Jose Altuve looks for another memorable performance as his Houston Astros vie for a 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series on Friday afternoon against the visiting Boston Red Sox. Altuve, the AL batting champion three of the last four years, including 2017, launched three solo homers in the series opener on Thursday as the Astros posted an 8-2 victory after taking three of four at Boston to end the regular season.
Altuve went 10-for-24 with one blast against the Red Sox in the regular season on the way to a career-high .346 overall batting average, a .410 on-base percentage, 24 homers and 81 RBIs. Altuve is 7-for-17 with a double and a walk versus Boston’s scheduled starter Drew Pomeranz, who finished the regular season strong and will face 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel on Friday. Slugger Hanley Ramirez recorded a pair of hits in the opener after coming on when Eduardo Nunez suffered a knee injury, while Mookie Betts and Sandy Leon also notched two hits apiece as the Red Sox lost their fourth consecutive postseason contest after being swept by Cleveland in the last year’s ALDS. Boston will need more from Dustin Pedroia, who went 0-for-3 with a walk on Thursday and was 3-for-36 to end the regular season while hampered by a lingering knee injury.
TV: 2:05 p.m. ET, FS1
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Drew Pomeranz (17-6, 3.32 ERA) vs. Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (14-5, 2.90)
Pomeranz won three of his last four decisions during the regular season and gave up fewer than two runs in three of his final four appearances. The 28-year-old went 7-3 with a 3.19 ERA on the road this year and 1-0 with a 1.46 ERA in two starts against the Astros. Carlos Correa (3-for-5) and Jake Marisnick (4-for-12, two homers) have caused plenty of trouble for Pomeranz, who is 2-2 with a 3.69 ERA in 12 career games (seven starts) versus Houston.
Keuchel finished the regular season strong, limiting his final three opponents and seven of the last nine to fewer than three earned runs. The 29-year-old Tulsa native is 36-20 all-time at Minute Maid Park, including 6-2 with a 1.64 ERA this year, and went 2-0 there in the 2015 postseason. Ramirez is 2-for-2 while Betts and Xander Bogaerts each have homered versus Keuchel, who is 0-1 with a 9.88 ERA in three career appearances (two starts) against Boston.
1. The Red Sox finished with the second-best bullpen ERA (3.15) in the regular season, while Houston was 10th in the AL at 4.27.
2. Houston’s Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, LF Marwin Gonzalez and C Brian McCann, drove in a total of four runs in the series opener.
3. Boston CF Jackie Bradley Jr. was hitless in three at-bats on Thursday and is 1-for-16 with nine strikeouts during his postseason career.
PREDICTION: Astros 6, Red Sox 3