Hanley Ramirez struggled through the final two months of the regular season and was left out of the Boston Red Sox’s starting lineup in Game 1 of their American League Division Series. The veteran slugger seems to be back in form after an injury gave him another shot and looks to stay hot as the Red Sox attempt to even the best-of-five series at two wins apiece when they host the Houston Astros on Monday afternoon.
Ramirez, who batted .213 with 45 strikeouts in his final 43 games of 2017, needed an injury to Eduardo Nunez to regain the role of designated hitter and has gone 6-for-10 with three RBIs in the first three games of the series. Houston will try to contain Ramirez while getting its offense going again after being shut out by Boston’s bullpen over the last eight innings of a 10-3 loss in Game 3 on Sunday. AL batting champion Jose Altuve continued his torrid hitting by recording three hits for the Astros and is 8-for-11 in the series while Carlos Correa went deep for the second time in two games and has knocked in six runs in three contests. Charlie Morton won a career-high 14 games and will get the start for Houston in Game 4 against Rick Porcello, who went 11-17 with a 4.65 ERA this season after posting a 22-4 record en route to the AL Cy Young Award in 2016.
TV: 1:08 p.m. ET, FS1
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) vs. Red Sox RH Rick Porcello (Playoffs: 0-0, 0.00)
Morton won his final three starts of the regular season, including one at Fenway Park, as he allowed just four runs and 13 hits over 18 1/3 innings. The 33-year-old limited Boston to two runs in 5 1/3 frames on Sept. 29 as he improved to 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA in two career starts against the Red Sox. Morton, who has handled Ramirez (1-for-15) and Mookie Betts (0-for-4), went 4-4 with a 4.17 ERA in nine turns on the road in 2017 and 4-1 with a 2.54 mark in September.
Porcello won his last two decisions and went 7-3 in the final two months of the regular season to get the start despite pitching one scoreless inning of relief in Game 1 on Thursday. The 28-year-old New Jersey native was 7-11 with a 5.43 ERA at home this year after going 13-1 with a 2.97 mark at Fenway Park in 2016. Carlos Beltran is 10-for-27 with a homer and Josh Reddick 3-for-10 with a blast versus Porcello, who gave up seven runs over six innings in a loss to Houston on June 17.
1. The Astros have not won a division series since 2005, when they beat Atlanta while in the National League.
2. Boston Cs Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez have combined to go 6-for-11 with a walk and two RBIs over the first three games.
3. Houston 1B Yuli Gurriel has gone 6-for-12 in the series after recording nine hits in 27 at-bats against the Red Sox in the regular season.
PREDICTION: Astros 7, Red Sox 5