Red Sox-Astros Preview
One of Colby Rasmus' finest performances at the plate allowed the Houston Astros enjoy their highest-scoring game in nearly two weeks.
Rasmus and his teammates will try to sustain their offensive momentum Sunday night while spoiling Henry Owens' season debut for the Boston Red Sox.
Rasmus hit his fifth career grand slam and drove in five runs, one shy of matching his personal high, in an 8-3 victory Saturday that ended Houston's four-game slide. The Astros (6-12) surpassed their run total from their prior three games and plated more than five for the first time since an 8-2 win over Kansas City on April 11.
They produced an average of 2.7 runs in their 10 subsequent contests while batting .136 with runners in scoring position and .215 overall.
"We've had a tough stretch, so to be able to do something for the team I feel blessed and thankful that that gave us a spark,'" said Rasmus, who has three of his six homers in the past three games. "We had some good energy, got the crowd going with us and everybody was having a good time."
Houston will seek to win its three-game series over the visiting Red Sox (8-9) when it faces Owens, a former top prospect and 2011 first-round draft pick. The 23-year-old left-hander couldn't win a spot in the rotation out of spring training but is coming back up after posting a 1.00 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 18 innings over three starts at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Owens went 4-4 with a 4.57 ERA in 11 starts in his first major league season but did not face the Astros.
"In the final outing of the spring, I thought he pitched with a lot more crispness, better command, and he's maintained that through his starts at Pawtucket thus far," manager John Farrell told MLB's official website. "This is also someone who came up last year and handled this environment well. With major league innings under his belt, he's the guy we're going to."
The Astros haven't won in any of Scott Feldman's three starts, and the chances of earning a victory don't appear promising given his struggles against Boston. Feldman (0-2, 4.11) is 1-4 with a 9.37 ERA in seven career starts versus the Red Sox and has a 15.23 ERA in losing the last three starts, with the most recent Aug. 14, 2014.
The right-hander gave up four runs - three in the first of his five innings - in a 7-5 loss in Texas on Tuesday. He was coming off his best outing of the season, two unearned runs allowed in 6 1-3 innings in a 4-2 defeat to Kansas City.
"I've got to come out better than that," said Feldman, who also gave up three first-inning runs at Milwaukee on April 8. "I settled down a little bit, but next time I've got to come out better in the first."
Dustin Pedroia, 7 for 15 with three extra-base hits in his last three games, is 10 for 23 lifetime against Feldman. Christian Vazquez is 4 for 5 with two doubles against the veteran starter while Brock Holt has two doubles and a triple in six at-bats.
The Red Sox are hoping to get Xander Bogaerts back in the lineup. He sat out Saturday after being hit on the right wrist by Astros pitcher Luke Gregerson on Friday.