Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – Justin Verlander opposite Chris Sale had all the makings of a classic pitching duel, instead, the Houston Astros took it to the Boston Red Sox as they won game one 8-2.
Sale who is on track be a major contender for the American League Cy Young, did not have his best outing as the Astros would chase him from the game two batters into the sixth inning.
Overall Sale would get tagged for seven earned runs and nine hits in five innings of work.
Thanks to Jose Altuve, Sale will not have pleasant memories of Minute Maid Park as the Astros MVP candidate took him for three solo home runs, something only done 10 times in postseason history, putting him with names like Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols just to name a few.
“At this point, nothing surprises me anymore,” Carlos Correa said trying to some up Altuve’s night at the plate. “I think I’ve seen it all from him, and he’s just (Jose) Altuve, he’s the best player on the planet right now.”
The Astros slugger followed Alex Bregman in the first inning for back to back solo shots, to give the team a 2-0 lead.
Altuve would grab another solo shot off of Sale in the fifth inning, and he’d tag Austin Maddox for his third and final solo home run in the seventh inning.
After trotting around the bases, the Astros short speedster rose to the top of the steps in the dugout and tipped his cap towards the fans as deafening MVP chants rained down on him.
“I couldn’t believe any of my homer’s,” Jose Altuve said of his night at the plate. “I hit one and I was like wow, the second one I was like what’s going on here, but it feels great, everything I can do to help my team in these kind of games, I’m going to be happy to do it.”
Altuve and Bregman supplied four home runs, but the Astros offense also got a boost from its regular season RBI leader.
In the fourth inning, with the game tied 2-2, Marwin Gonzalez came to the plate with two on and two out, he would smack a double to center field clearing the bases, putting the Astros ahead and they never looked back.
“We pass the baton pretty well around here,” A.J. Hinch said. “I think our guys take great pride in putting up good at-bats and being productive and today was an example of that.”
With Justin Verlander on the mound, he’s proved he hasn’t needed much run support since joining the team and while he didn’t have his greatest outing, he gave the Astros more than enough.
Verlander would toss six innings, allowing six hits, two earned runs, two walks while striking out three.
Through four innings it looked like the Red Sox had his number, while they didn’t put together very many hits, they were patient and made him work. With a high pitch count heading into the fifth inning, Verlander would lock in and get the next six outs in order.
The Astros handed off to the bullpen and despite a minor hiccup eighth inning when Will Harris allowed two hits, it was pretty much lights out from the relievers.