HEADLINE

Morton set to return for Astros vs. Red Sox

The Sports Xchange

September 07, 2018 at 9:13 pm.

BOSTON — Having rallied to win a game played in a playoff atmosphere on Friday, the Houston Astros bring Charlie Morton off the disabled list to start against the Boston Red Sox in the second game of a three-game series at Fenway Park Saturday.

The defending world champions could do nothing against David Price, but scored three runs in the seventh inning and three more in the eighth to win their sixth straight and end Boston’s five-game winning streak in the opener of a series that could be repeated in the postseason.

The game had a playoff feel to it as the fan intensity was increased by the presence of a large number of Houston fans proudly wearing their orange and battling with the locals all night.

Asked after the game if it was special getting a road win against a very good team, Houston manager AJ Hinch, whose team came in 3 1/2 games ahead of the Oakland A’s in the American League West, said, “Special? It’s just another win. It really is just another win. We’re chasing down a division title. Special? It’s nice to win in the big leagues, but nothing more than a game in September.”

Now Hinch sends Morton, who has been out with right shoulder discomfort, and his 13-3 record and 3.14 ERA out to face Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez, who comes in 12-3 with a 3.34 ERA.

Morton is 2-1 with a 4.60 ERA in three career starts against the Red Sox, but that loss came June 3 at Houston when Boston reached him for six runs, including two home runs, in 5 1/3 innings. That was his first loss of the season after a 7-0 start.

He is 1-0 in one career start at Fenway.

Rodriguez, who came off the disabled list (sprained ankle) Sept. 1, has allowed just one run on 13 hits in 22 2/3 innings over his last four starts. He came off the DL with 12 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings, defeating the Chicago White Sox last Saturday.

The left-hander is 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in two career starts against the Astros.

Price, who missed a start after getting hit on the left wrist with a line drive, was masterful, striking out 10 in 6 1/3 innings Friday.

But Ryan Brasier quickly surrendered the lead in the seventh. The Red Sox re-tied the game before the Astros scored three in the eighth off Joe Kelly to go to 13-4 in their last 17 road games. They are a major league-best 48-21 on the road.

“I felt good,” Price said when asked about being pulled with two runners on base in the seventh. “I’m never going to take myself out of a game. I didn’t get the job done. If I don’t want to come out in that situation, don’t have anyone on base and just go out there and pitch better.”

Red Sox hitters have some impressive numbers against Morton. Mitch Moreland is 3-for-4 (.750) with a home run, Steve Pearce is 4-for-7 (.571), Ian Kinsler 3-for-7 (.429), Andrew Benintendi 2-for-5 (.400), Xander Bogaerts 3-for-9 (.333) and new arrival Brandon Phillips 13-for-43 (.302). J.D. Martinez is 2-for-9 (.222).

The current Astros have just 30 at-bats against Rodriguez, but Carlos Correa and Marwin Gonzalez are each 3-for-3. Overall, the current roster is a combined 12-for-30 (.400) with a homer and six RBIs against the veteran left-hander.
Gonzalez, out with right oblique discomfort, is expected to return Saturday, while Hector Rondon, hit on the right hand with a comebacker earlier in the week, pitched Friday night.
Lance McCullers, on the disabled list for the last month with a right elbow problem, is expected to throw a bullpen Saturday en route to a return. When he comes back, he is slated to go to the bullpen.

The news wasn’t as good for the Red Sox, who announced Dustin Pedroia underwent another knee operation in July and is officially done for the season. That was the indication when Boston acquired Ian Kinsler, but there was no word on the new surgery.

The Red Sox were also without reliever Matt Barnes Friday night. The righty is dealing with left hip inflammation and had an MRI Thursday.