After splitting last week’s series with Boston, the Astros swung their way to back-to-back wins to end the weekend in Detroit, including recording 25 hits in Sunday’s 17-4 win.
Reigning World Series MVP Jeremy Pena went 5-for-6 with three RBIs and three runs to lead the way. He has reached base at a .426 clip in August.
“When you perform well, it breeds confidence,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “There was a time (when Pena) was struggling, but that’s behind him and it’s time to look forward.”
Pena is a former Rhode Island resident and University of Maine product, meaning the 25-year-old star shortstop has extra confidence entering the series at Fenway Park.
“I always say it’s home,” Pena said. “I grew up going to Pawtucket games, Triple-A for the Red Sox, seeing all those guys before they were in the big leagues. I’m going to have a lot of friends, a lot of family. So I always look forward to that series.”
Houston’s Cristian Javier (9-2, 4.52 ERA) will make his second straight start against the Red Sox after taking the ball last Monday and working five, three-run innings. The right-hander tied his season high of 105 pitches in that outing.
Javier will face Boston for the fifth time in his career (third start). He is 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA in the previous meetings.
Despite homering in 16 consecutive games, the Red Sox have lost four of their last seven after losing two of three to the Dodgers this past weekend after the series in Houston. Thursday’s final game of the Astros series was a 17-1 Boston win.
Boston left-hander Chris Sale (5-3, 4.68) will make his fourth start since returning from the 60-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation.
The Red Sox are 10-4 in Sale’s starts this season and 5-1 in his last six after he retired the last nine batters he faced in a no-decision in Houston last Wednesday. He allowed four runs on six hits but struck out nine over five innings.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora is expecting more out of his rotation over the final month of the season, with Tanner Houck and Sale having recently returned from injuries.
“That’s part of 162. Guys are going to go six or seven, and then they are going to grind through it. We’ve just got to find a way. We got to get better,” Cora said. “We’ve been facing some good hitters, tough lineups just like ours that they’re gonna keep grinding with you.”
Sale allowed all four earned runs in the first three frames before settling in for the remainder of his most recent outing.
“Obviously didn’t get off on the right foot but just grinded,” Sale said of that effort. “Sometimes you’ve got to do that. It’s not always going to be pretty.”
Sale is 5-3 with a 2.56 ERA in 10 career starts against the Astros, whom he had not faced since 2019 before last week.
—Field Level Media
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