Astros look to take down Red Sox again

MLB

The Houston Astros entered the closing stretch of a difficult nine-game homestand on Monday and earned a runaway victory over the Boston Red Sox. They’re hoping the win provides some propulsion.

The Astros remain without three lineup mainstays in Michael Brantley (hamstring), Yuli Gurriel (finger) and Yordan Alvarez (wrist), and their beleaguered bullpen played a critical role in the series loss to the San Diego Padres over the weekend. But three starting pitchers have returned to the rotation in four days, and Jose Altuve homered to spark an 11-2 victory over Boston on Monday.

Optimal health remains just out of reach, though Houston does seem to be inching closer.

“We needed a game like this,” Altuve said. “It’s always good to score a lot of runs and win the game. This is why we’re here. I think we’re playing good, but we need to play even better. I like where we’re at.”

Rookie right-hander Luis Garcia (3-3, 2.93 ERA) will start for the Astros on Tuesday. He is 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA and .175 opponent batting average over his previous three starts, including a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, when he posted career highs in innings (six) and pitches (100). Garcia will face the Red Sox for the first time in his career.

Right-hander Garrett Richards (4-3, 3.83) has Tuesday’s starting assignment for Boston.

Richards suffered his first loss after four straight wins in his previous outing after allowing three runs on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings against the Atlanta Braves on May 25. He was 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings in his previous five starts, with Boston winning four of those games.

Richards, who has worked at least five innings in six consecutive starts, is 5-5 with a 3.02 ERA over 16 career games (13 starts) against Houston.

Boston starters entered the series having thrown at least five innings in 29 of 31 games. One of the two outings where a Red Sox starter failed to last five innings came against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 23, when left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez lasted four innings in a 6-2 setback.

Rodriquez again failed to record at least 15 outs Monday. He allowed a season-high six runs on seven hits plus two walks while logging just 4 2/3 innings in suffering his fourth consecutive loss.

Rotation stability has helped fuel Boston through an exceptional first two months of this season. But with Rodriguez 0-4 with an 8.69 ERA over his last four starts, the Red Sox are searching for ways to get him back on track and in sync with the remainder of a rotation that is pitching well.

“I told him that if he throws the ball the way he threw it (Monday) with one more adjustment, he’s in a good place,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of his conversation with Rodriguez when he replaced him in the fifth inning. “I do believe if he throws the ball the way he threw it (Monday), good things are going to happen.”

Rodriguez was pleased with the results from his fastball, and Cora felt the same and was impressed by the cutter as well. But both acknowledged the changeup remains a concern.

“I’ve got to go out there, keep working, keep grinding and hope the next start goes good,” Rodriguez said.

–Field Level Media

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