BOSTON — The Houston Astros are sending an early message to the rest of baseball.
They’re playing and sounding like they’re the best.
Tyler White’s two-run double capped a five-run first inning, Josh Reddick hit a solo homer and the Astros kept rolling, beating the Boston Red Sox 7-3 Saturday night for their 10th straight victory.
“I feel like this is the team to beat,” Reddick said. “We have the target on us, even though we didn’t make it all the way last year.”
Michael Brantley had three hits and an RBI for Houston (31-15), which matched the best start in franchise history — along with the 2017 World Series winning team — after 46 games. It’s the Astros’ second 10-game streak this season.
“We want to keep winning as many games as we can,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “Obviously, it’s a huge accomplishment. These guys out here, they’re playing hard, they’re playing well, we’re playing good defence, we’re pitching, we’re hitting. When we play all facets like that, we have a chance to win every night.”
Christian Vazquez hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, who had won six of eight.
The Astros can complete a three-game series sweep Sunday when they send left-hander Wade Miley against Boston ace Chris Sale.
It’s the first meeting between the teams since the Red Sox ousted Houston in last fall’s American League Championship series en route to their World Series title.
Josh James (1-0) got the victory with three innings of hitless relief after starter Corbin Martin went four, giving up three runs, two earned, in his second major league start.
Boston spot starter Hector Velazquez (1-3) retired just one batter, giving up five runs and three hits with two walks and had a spattering of boos cascading down as he walked off.
“I made a couple of mistakes and tried to battle through it. I just couldn’t,” he said through a translator.
George Springer opened the game with a triple off the centre-field wall, just over a leaping bid by Jackie Bradley Jr. on the first pitch. Brantley made it 1-0 with an RBI double over the head of right fielder Mookie Betts’ leap at the shorter bullpen wall before Reddick’s sacrifice fly.
Yuli Gurriel’s bloop single made it 3-0 and chased Velazquez. White then hit reliever Colten Brewer’s first pitch down the right-field line for a two-run double.
“That’s what they do,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “They battle with two strikes and they put good swings with two strikes. It was a bad one today.”
After losing their first two games this month, the Astros have won 13 of 14 and closed in on the longest winning streak in franchise history of 12, accomplished in 1999 and 2004.
The first inning lasted 44 minutes. After Houston’s big start, Boston loaded the bases on consecutive two-out walks and scored one run on Max Stassi’s passed ball before Rafael Devers lined to left.
INTERESTING TO HEAR
Red Sox LF Andrew Benintendi’s walk-up song is ‘Houston, We Got a Problem’ by country music star Luke Combs.
Astros: Hinch said he’d like to stay away from INF Aledmys Diaz, who exited Friday with left hamstring discomfort, for the rest of this series. “He’s not going to play unless it’s a huge emergency of some sort,” Hinch said. “Luckily, the diagnosis is very mild.” . Despite not being in the lineup, C Robinson Chirinos was fine after being shaken up by a foul tip late in Friday’s win. “It’s predetermined that he was going to sit,” Hinch said. . 2B Jose Altuve (Injured List, strained left hamstring) worked out on the field.
Red Sox: Both utility player Brock Holt (IL, scratched right eye) and 2B Dustin Pedroia (soreness left knee) continued their rehab assignments with Triple-A Pawtucket. Cora said Holt was scheduled to play second Saturday and Sunday with Pedroia the DH both days.
Astros: Hinch shuffled his rotation and said Miley (4-2, 3.51 ERA) would start the series finale with RHP Brad Peacock being pushed to Monday.
Red Sox: LHP Sale (1-5, 4.24) looks to continue his stellar turnaround after a rough start this season. In his last outing, he became the first pitcher in major league history to strike out 17 in only seven innings and also the first ever with three or fewer hits, strike out at least 14 without allowing a walk in consecutive starts.