|Astros sending ace Verlander out to sweep Red Sox|
With Astros outfielder George Springer placed on the 10-day injured list with a Grade-2 left hamstring strain, Houston recalled outfielder Derek Fisher from Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday, a decision that required some explanation given the status of two higher-profiled prospects.
Kyle Tucker, the Astros' second-ranked prospect overall, was slashing .266/.345/.614 with 14 home runs and 33 RBIs. Yordan Alvarez has been arguably the top overall hitter in the minors this season with a slash line of .374/.460/.816 with 19 homers and 57 RBIs. Yet the Astros envision filling the void left by Springer with a reserve, a role Fisher has managed previously.
"Whoever we're bringing up is probably going to be a substitute and play occasionally and be more of a fourth or fifth outfielder in the mix with (Tony) Kemp," Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said prior to a 4-3 win over Boston Saturday. "That's the playing time that's out there."
Ace right-hander Justin Verlander (8-1, 2.24 ERA) will start Sunday with Houston seeking the series sweep against Boston. He carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his previous start, ultimately allowing one run on one hit and one walk while striking out a season-high 12 in a 5-1 win over the Chicago White Sox on May 21.
He leads the majors with 72 1/3 innings. Verlander is 5-5 with a 2.89 ERA over 18 career starts against the Red Sox. In his only appearance against Boston last season, he allowed two runs on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts over six innings and did not factor into the decision of a 5-4 Astros loss on June 2 at Minute Maid Park.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (4-3, 5.43 ERA) will start as Boston attempts to salvage the series finale. He is 0-2 with a 9.90 ERA over three career starts against Houston, including a 5-3 loss on Sept. 8, 2018 at Fenway Park, when he allowed five runs on six hits and three walks with four strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings.
Prior to losing at Toronto on May 21, Boston had won each of his previous seven starts. Sunday will mark his 100th career start including the postseason, with Boston going 61-38 previously.
What was initially a moment of concern for the Red Sox quickly dissipated when it was revealed that left-hander David Price departed after facing just three batters due to flu-like symptoms.
Price looked uncomfortable during his brief appearance on the mound, an unwelcome sign after he missed 14 team games while on the 10-day IL with left elbow tendinitis. Price made his first start off the IL last Monday in a victory at Toronto, allowing two unearned runs over five innings.
Moving forward, Price declared that he should be fine to make his next scheduled start. Still, he made it clear that he was prepared to pitch through the illness against the Astros, which yielded some discord in determining whether the Red Sox were being overly cautious in removing him.
"My back, my legs, my neck, just achiness all over," Price said when asked to explain his discomfort. "Nothing really feels good right now. I'm sure everybody here experienced that. Think about trying to just go out there and make pitches.
"I could have just ducked this start from the get-go. I didn't want to do that. I didn't want to put us in that position. I went out there and tried to take the ball and AC (Red Sox manager Alex Cora) didn't like what he saw, so he took me out of the game. I wanted to stay in the game when he came out there. That's that."
--Field Level Media