Correa slugs Astros to rout of Red Sox in Game 2
HOUSTON — On the heels of a historic Game 1 performance by his infield partner Jose Altuve, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa was prepared for a shift in strategy by the opposition that would nullify Altuve and yield for Correa opportunities to produce with runners in scoring position.
Correa bashed a two-run homer in the first inning and drilled a two-out, two-run double in the sixth as Houston rolled to a second consecutive 8-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Friday at Minute Maid Park in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
Correa finished 2-for-4 with four RBIs as the Astros secured a 2-0 series lead with Game 3 set for Fenway Park in Boston on Sunday.
Boston was determined to not let Altuve dominate like he did in the opener when he posted the 10th three-homer game in postseason history. The Red Sox instead tried their luck with the All-Star batting cleanup, intentionally walking Altuve twice to face Correa at critical junctures.
“I came to the ballpark today mentally prepared for that situation,” Correa said. “He hit three homers yesterday, he’s the best hitter in the game right now, so I was expecting when first base was open with guys on base in important situations he was going to get walked. I came mentally prepared for it and was able to come through.”
That strategy paid dividends when Boston left-hander David Price induced Correa to pop out with George Springer on second base and Altuve on first to end the fourth inning. When Boston tried the gambit two innings later, this time with Addison Reed on the mound, Correa pounced.
Correa drove home Springer and Altuve by lining the first pitch from Reed to left field and scored on the ensuing pitch when Evan Gattis followed with an RBI single. Houston plated four runs in the frame to double its output, end the suspense, and seize control of the series.
“He’s been dynamite,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of his decisions to intentionally walk Altuve twice. “You pick your poison. He’s extremely hot, an extremely good hitter. Felt like we were going to move on and go to the next guy.”
Altuve still went 2-for-3 with two runs, two walks and an RBI single that chased Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz (0-1) in the third. Altuve scored when Correa homered in the first.
Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel (1-0) survived a 30-pitch second inning and pitched into the sixth, allowing one run on three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. He surrendered an RBI single to Jackie Bradley Jr. that cut the Houston lead to 2-1 in the second before rallying to retire 13 consecutive batters. Keuchel departed following his two-out walk to Hanley Ramirez.
“They had a good game plan early on and that was to look over the plate and raise their eye sights, and I wasn’t able to pull up the two-seam (fastball),” Keuchel said. “So I just went to plan B and that was go extreme, extreme in with the cutter and slider and was able to get some early strikes, get ahead in the count, attack them and kind of put them back on their heels, and was fortunate enough to make an adjustment early enough before it was too late.”
Springer clubbed an opposite-field home run off Pomeranz leading off the third inning, the Astros’ sixth homer of the series. Correa and Springer were a combined 0-for-8 in the opener. In a showcase of the Astros’ depth, they produced 12 total bases and scored four runs in Game 2.
“Honestly, I think I just made one bad pitch there in the beginning against Correa,” said Pomeranz, who allowed four runs on five hits and one walk over two-plus innings. “They hit some pretty good pitches off of me after that.
“They’re a good lineup, and they’ve had a good offensive lineup all year. You’ve got to make pitches against those guys.”
NOTES: Major League Baseball approved a roster substitution for Boston due to 3B Eduardo Nunez aggravating his right knee injury in Game 1. Nunez was replaced on the ALDS roster by OF Chris Young and is ineligible to return for the ALCS should the Red Sox advance. However, Nunez could participate in the World Series if Boston wins the pennant. ... Astros manager A.J. Hinch named RHP Brad Peacock as his starter for Game 3 with RHP Charlie Morton set to start Game 4 is the Red Sox extend the series with a victory. ... Red Sox LHP David Price made his seventh career postseason relief appearance, but just his second since 2010, when he entered with one out in the third inning. His first five postseason outings, all in 2008 with Tampa Bay, were out of the bullpen.