Houston wastes another chance at a sweep

Astros drop finale in slug-fest with Red Sox

Houston couldn't out-slug Boston on Thursday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With a chance to sweep this three-game series against Boston, Houston tried to replicate the success of the first two games on Thursday night against the Red Sox. Instead, the Astros would come up short in a slug-fest where Houston's bullpen would once again give up too many runs.

Final Score: Red Sox 12, Astros 8

Astros' Record: 35-27, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Darwinzon Hernandez (1-2)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (0-1)

Greinke lasts just three innings

After notching a one-run complete game in his last start against the Blue Jays, Zack Greinke would encounter a disappointing start in this one against the Red Sox. After a 1-2-3 first, Boston put up two runs against him in the second, one on an RBI single and another on a bases-loaded walk as they would send eight batters to the plate in the frame.

They scored two more on him in the next inning, with a leadoff solo homer and then a two-out RBI single, pushing him out of the game early after using 64 pitches to get through those three innings. His final line: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 64P.

Both teams continue to trade runs

Those four runs had the Astros down 4-3, as they could put up three of their own over that span on a solo homer by Yuli Gurriel in the second and two-RBI double by Yordan Alvarez in the third. Houston regained the lead in the top of the fifth, getting four runs on a bases-loaded walk by Gurriel and a two-RBI double by Kyle Tucker with a run scoring on an error in the same play, making it 7-4.

Boston tied the game up in the bottom of the same inning, putting two on base against Brandon Bielak on two singles to set up a three-run homer to make it 7-7 going to the sixth. In the top of that inning, Jose Altuve put Houston back in front with a solo home run to make it 8-7, but Boston roared back with a big inning of their own.

Astros drop the finale

Blake Taylor started the bottom of the sixth trying to get through at least an inning but instead would allow a game-tying sac fly turned error before he would leave with two outs. Enoli Paredes entered to try and get that last out, but he would not be able to get it done, allowing four runs, one each on a bases-loaded hit by pitch and walk, then a two-RBI double to extend their new lead to 12-8.

After a scoreless seventh and eighth, Houston would watch the four-run deficit go final in the top of the ninth as Boston would salvage a game in this series to avoid the sweep. The loss keeps Houston behind Oakland, for now, on top of the AL West standings as the Astros continue to try and overtake them for the division lead.

Up Next: Houston will finish this nine-game road trip with a three-game set in Minnesota against the Twins, starting with the opener at 7:10 PM Central on Friday. Jose Urquidy (4-3, 3.76 ERA) will try and get the win for the Astros, while Matt Shoemaker (2-7, 7.28 ERA) will be on the mound for the Twins.

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With the end of the regular season in sight, the Houston Astros host the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, coming off a huge walk-off 2-1 win against the Orioles.

Two players from the finale against Baltimore really stood out for the 'Stros. Jeremy Pena, who had a clutch double late in the game, and Cristian Javier.

Javier struck out 11 batters over 5 innings surrendering only one run, which was exactly what the Astros needed in possibly the most important game of the regular season.

Both Pena and Javier were critical pieces to the Astros title in 2022, and it looks like they're rounding into form at just the right time.

Javier's struggles have caused many to question who would be the team's third starter in the postseason, behind Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander. Let's put this to bed right now, it's Javier.

This should be everything you need to know. Let's start with Hunter Brown. Brown has given up 5 earned runs or more in 4 of his last 7 starts.

How about JP France? France has surrendered 5 or more earned runs in 3 of his last 5 games.

However, Cristian Javier hasn't allowed 5 or more runs in a start since July 3. Javier may only give you 5 innings, but that's actually pretty common for starters in the playoffs. Teams typically remove their starters before the third time through the order.

Prime Time Pena

While the power hasn't been there for Pena this year, he is swinging the bat much better of late. Over his last 30 games, he's hitting .325 while slugging .453. Pena may only have 10 bombs on the year, but he's getting on base and hitting plenty of doubles.

If these two can contribute at a similar level to last postseason, the sky is the limit for the 2023 Astros.

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