On Friday the Astros welcomed the Red Sox circus in to town for a three game set before the All-Star break. The pitching match-up featured two veteran right handers, John Lackey versus Scott Feldman. The Astros took a significant blow before the game with the announcement of George Springer being out day to day with knee discomfort.
It was a tough evening for the Astros as they were able to bang out three runs on seven hits, but found themselves trailing most of the time. Feldman struggled with his pitches in the zone as just about everything the Red Sox touched was hard hit. Oh yeah and then there was that guy “Big Papi”.
The game remained scoreless until the top of the third inning when heavily touted catching prospect Christian Vazquez banged out his first major league hit, followed by a Brock Holt RBI triple. The ball was just outside of L.J. Hoes glove in right center banging off of the Astros bullpen. Dustin Pedroia followed by lacing a tracer into the left field corner for an RBI double giving the Red Sox a 2-0 advantage.
The Astros struggled to get a hit through the first three innings, only settling for an L.J. Hoes walk. It was quite the contrary for Feldman who could not figure out how to stop the Red Sox bats. He gave up back to back doubles to Stephen Drew and Vazquez plating a third run. The Red Sox totaled a whopping eight hits in only four frames. Feldman’s main struggles were with fastball command while in the strike zone. Boston did a fantastic job attacking pitches, yet it could have been a lot worse up to this point.
Jon Singleton helped turn the negative tide in the bottom of the fifth by drawing a hard earned 10 pitch walk. Robbie Grossman was able to reach base with a two out walk, followed by an Enrique Hernandez single up the middle. The first Astros hit plated Singleton making the contest 3-1. Marwin Gonzalez followed with a ground out, allowing Lackey to escape the frame.
Mike Carp lead the top of the sixth off with a walk, followed by a Daniel Nava single. The single turned into a sloppy turn of events when Hoes bobbled a ball in right allowing each runner to advance an extra base. Feldman issued and intentional walk to Stephen Drew which proved to be very costly. The electric young catcher Vazquez continued his hot night by lining a double to right and driving in two. Darin Downs entered following the carnage by leading with a walk to Holt. After retiring Pedroia, with two outs the big guy David Ortiz hit a three run double that one hopped the facing of the Astros bullpen thus blowing the game wide open to 8-1. The Red Sox scoring would end there with the game completely out of hand.
Chris Carter was able to get one of those runs back with a solo home run into the front row of the Laundry’s Crawford Boxes. It was Carter’s 18th home run of the season as he stays hot with the home run stroke. The score was 8-2 after six.
Lackey’s day would end after six innings pitched hauling in a quality start. Coming in for relief was Burke Badenhop, followed by Craig Breslow in the eighth. That is when Carter added his second home run of the night with a laser off the left field foul pole. This was Carter’s fourth two home run effort of the season.
That would be it for the Astros as they went out quietly in defeat 8-3. The Astros are frankly not the same team without Springer in the lineup and it showed on this night. Lackey was effective but probably a tad hittable at times. It is good to see Carter continuing to pull the ball with power, and with better pitching the Astros should have a better shot in the rest of this series. Jake Peavy will take on Brett Oberholtzer in game two of the set, slated for a 3:10 start time on Saturday.