Red Sox-Astros Preview
Following a disappointing opening homestand, the Boston Red Sox look to turn things around on a five-game road trip that begins in Houston.
It's quite possible that could happen considering the way the Astros have begun their season.
The Red Sox can hand the Astros a fourth consecutive defeat Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
Boston (7-8) won three straight at one point on its 10-game home stretch but Thursday's wild 12-8 loss to Tampa Bay concluded a 4-6 stay. The Red Sox appeared in position to take that three-game set after getting out to a 5-1 lead in the finale, but David Price allowed eight runs over 3 2/3 innings and the visitors scored three times in the ninth.
“To jump out to a quick 5-1 lead, we feel like (we were) in pretty good shape,” Red Sox manager John Farrell told MLB's official website.
Boston opened the season with a 3-2 trip and heads to Houston where it was swept in a three-game series last season. However, the Astros (5-11) are tied for the worst record in the AL after dropping all three at Texas this week.
“We have to continue to try to hold our heads up,” said Houston's Colby Rasmus, who homered twice in Thursday's 7-4 loss to the Rangers.
Dustin Pedroia, who had three hits Thursday including his 1,500th, batted .449 in 19 games against the Astros before going 1 for 8 in two at Houston last season.
Steven Wright (0-2, 2.13 ERA) would love to have the support the Red Sox provided Thursday when he takes the mound in this series opener. The knuckleballer has allowed three earned runs in 12 2/3 innings of his two starts that both came against Toronto. But his teammates provided one run with him on the mound.
Despite that lack of run support, the right-hander is pleased with his solid start and credits former Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield for making it possible.
“I've just gained a lot of confidence working with Wake and just being able to stay under control,” Wright said. “If I can stay under control, I can attack the zone.
“I throw such an inconsistent pitch, so the more consistent as far as staying back, attacking the zone and repeating my release point, the more I can throw quality strikes, and that's all I'm trying to do.”
Wright last faced the Astros out of the bullpen in 2014, but his first career start came at Houston on Aug. 6, 2013. He allowed three runs and walked two in an inning.
Collin McHugh (1-2, 6.39) went 2-1 with a 2.95 ERA over the past two seasons against the Red Sox, but has been inconsistent through his three starts in 2016. He yielded six runs in one-third of an inning at Yankee Stadium to open his season then pitched seven scoreless to beat Kansas City.
The right-hander allowed four runs and 10 hits but struck out seven without a walk in 5 1/3 innings of a 5-3 home loss to Detroit on Saturday.
''I thought McHugh hung in there pretty well,'' manager A.J. Hinch said.
David Ortiz is 0 for 7 with two walks in nine plate appearances against McHugh.
Houston's Jose Altuve is 18 for 35 with 10 runs scored and eight RBIs in his last eight against the Red Sox.