Red Sox

Correa, Altuve, Astros rout Red Sox 8-2, take 2-0 ALDS lead

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Correa, Altuve, Astros rout Red Sox 8-2, take 2-0 ALDS lead

HOUSTON -- Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and the high-powered Astros led the majors in runs, hits and batting average in the regular season.

Now that it's playoff time, Houston is still hammering away.

Correa homered , doubled and drove in four runs, Altuve got two more hits and the Astros battered the Boston Red Sox 8-2 Friday to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.

George Springer also homered to back Dallas Keuchel in Houston's second straight romp by the exact same score.

"One through nine, everybody can do damage, everybody can go deep," Correa said. "That's the good thing about our lineup, there's no holes in our lineup, and we feel very confident no matter if we went 0 for 4 the day before or if we went 4 for 4."

The Astros will go for a sweep in the best-of-five matchup Sunday at Fenway Park, a year after Boston was swept in the ALDS by Cleveland. Brad Peacock (13-2) starts for Houston against Doug Fister (5-9).

"We couldn't really script it any better," Keuchel said.

A day after Altuve hit three home runs in the playoff opener, he got things going with a two-out single in the first inning off Drew Pomeranz. Correa, who went 0 for 4 on Thursday, made it 2-0 when he launched a towering shot onto the train tracks atop left field.

"For me if he's not No. 1, he's No. 2 in the league," Altuve said of Correa, often referring to him as his little brother. "One of the best players, I'm really happy to have him on my team. Believe it or not I have learned from him."

Keuchel pitched into the sixth, allowing one run and three hits while striking out seven to improve to 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in three career postseason starts.

After Jackie Bradley Jr. had an RBI single in the Boston second, the Astros started to break away.

Springer hit his first postseason homer when he sent the second pitch of the third inning into the front row of the seats in right field.

So is Red Sox manager John Farrell surprised that the series has been this lopsided so far?

"They're very good, they're deep, and they have got a number of ways to beat you," he said. "So we fully respect and understood the opponent, and they're playing like that."

A double by Alex Bregman set up an RBI single by Altuve later in the third, making it 4-1 and ending Pomeranz's first career postseason start after two relief appearances. The lefty kept his head down as he trudged toward the dugout after being lifted.

"Any mistake that we've made these past two games, they've made us pay for them," Pomeranz said. "It's playoff baseball, and these guys have come out swinging."

David Price, the starter-turned-reliever with the $217 million contract, pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the Red Sox. Following his exit, Houston tacked on four runs in the sixth.

A two-out intentional walk to Altuve, the major league batting champion this season, led to a two-run double by Correa . The top overall pick in the 2012 draft and crown jewel of Houston's yearslong rebuilding project raised his hands in delight and motioned for the crowd to get louder as he stopped at second base.

Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts had an error that looked like it was pulled from a blooper reel earlier in the sixth when he caught a fly ball by Bregman then simply lost the ball as he tried to throw it back in. Betts looked confused as the ball dribbled away from him and he was charged with an error, allowing a run to score.

"I'm not even sure how it happened," Betts said. "I messed up."

Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, known as much for his beard as his devastating sinker, was cheered on by Houston's other famous bearded superstar as Rockets guard James Harden watched from a front-row seat behind home plate.

Keuchel's father, Dennis, also was in attendance and multiple television shots showed him looking a mixture of excited and nervous as he gazed at his son's work.

The left-hander had trouble settling in early and after needing 30 pitches to get through the second inning, it looked like this start might be a short one. But he struck out the last two batters of that inning as the first of 13 straight he retired.

Keuchel exited to a standing ovation after walking Hanley Ramirez with two outs in the sixth inning.

Altuve, who hit .346 this year, kept punishing pitchers. After singling in his first two trips to the plate, giving him five hits in the series, the Red Sox had seen enough and intentionally walked him in the fourth. That drew a loud chorus of boos from the home crowd, which greeted Altuve with a standing ovation in his first at-bat.

Farrell was asked if the fourth inning was too early to intentionally walk Altuve.

"No, he's been dynamite," he said. "You pick your poison. He's an extremely hot, extremely good hitter. Felt like we were going to move on and go to the next guy."

Many fans held signs saying that Altuve should be this season's MVP and one behind home plate proclaimed in sparkly multi-colored letters: "Altuve, He's Pretty Good."

Boston also gave him a free pass in the sixth inning, but had to pitch to him in the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs. Austin Maddox, who gave up Altuve's third homer on Thursday, jumped into the air and pumped his fist after striking him out.

It didn't matter much. Even with the strikeout, his average in the series is .714.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Betts said his wrist flared up on a swing in the eighth inning but that he's OK.

"It's going to take some time to heal, but we don't have that kind of time right now," he said.

HURRICANE MARIA RELIEF

Correa, who is from Puerto Rico, has partnered with Astros owner Jim Crane to charter a plane filled with water, food and other supplies to deliver to the island on Sunday to help those affected by Hurricane Maria.

"Obviously a lot of people are suffering from hunger and they're going through tough times right now, so I just want to bring a little bit of help over there," Correa said.

UP NEXT

Fister (5-9, 4.88 ERA), who pitched for the Astros last season, will start for Boston in Game 3 on Sunday against Peacock (13-2, 3.00 ERA), who will be making his postseason debut.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Give the Red Sox time, patience can pay off

Give the Red Sox time, patience can pay off

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — If the lineup looks the same on Opening Day, set off on a tantrum. For now, just keep your anger primed in the queue. Maybe even prepare for an eventuality of relief and excitement.

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is moving with discipline. Even if some of his process this winter has been questionable, he’s still taking a measured approach rather than setting a match to an already shriveling farm system and payroll. 

Discipline requires waiting, and the lull invites frustration for those who want everything now.

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“Even though some things are starting to happen, there’s a lot to still be done over the winter time,” Dombrowski said Wednesday.

He’s right.

As a Sox fan, you can’t have it both ways. Either you want Dombrowski to act responsibly with the sustainability of the franchise in mind, or you want all the big names now, now, now — and are keen on an inevitably disastrous roster. 

The Sox have had a lot of big splashes in recent years. They have to move cautiously in waters this deep. As one executive put it recently: “Only horrible organizations keep spending and spending and spending.”

Here’s betting fans will be rewarded this winter with an upgraded lineup to feel good about, even if the Sox haven’t crossed the finish line yet. 

“Every time we have a meeting we talk about [timing]. Some players are going to start signing pretty soon,” Dombrowski said. “And some players that we have interest in, we’ll start signing pretty soon. And if you wait, you lose some players that you may have interest in.”

One thing is for sure — and it appears to be getting lost even with big names like J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer still out there — just because the Red Sox haven’t completed a deal, they are doing a ton of work behind the scenes.

"I think we're closer to getting answers on some things,” Dombrowski said Wednesday. “There have been a couple of things, calls we've made and heard from people that have eliminated us and some have kept us in there. But I can't say that I'm any closer to getting things done other than gathering continued information — because I don't know what happens with other clubs. I don't know where they stand with their conversations with other teams. There’s still a lot, so many conversations going on, and a lot of different possibilities, a lot of different trade things happening so I'm not really sure. 

“I think we've got a pulse of what's happening and I don't think anything's happened that's surprised us so far, but there haven't been that many things that have happened either. A lot of relievers have signed, that's been the biggest thing and that hasn't been our biggest thing that we're pursuing.”

(Whether they should be pursuing it with a little more aggressiveness is worth a thought, however.) 

- The Sox were keeping tabs on Marcell Ozuna, the Marlins outfielder who was traded to the Cardinals.

“We asked about him and they called me back beforehand, just to let me know,” Dombrowski said of the Marlins. “So we were in the mix enough to do that.”

Ozuna could have done some DH’ing and also played outfield. Dombrowski noted the Marlins got upper-level pitching in the trade. He didn’t specifically note that the Red Sox don’t have as much upper-level pitching to offer, but that is the case.

- The Sox have talked “generalities” with free agents when it comes to contract terms, Dombrowski said. 

- Dombrowski said bringing back free agent Eduardo Nunez is on his radar.

- Super agent Scott Boras on Wednesday defended J.D. Martinez’s defense, which isn’t generally well regarded. Boras also talked about the "prestige value" of Eric Hosmer, another client.

- Boras said the Red Sox have not told him it’s their intention to trade Jackie Bradley Jr.