HOUSTON — Alex Verdugo hit a four-hit leadoff and rookie Willer Abreu hit his first major league home run of four as the Boston Red Sox beat JB France to 10 runs in a 17-1 win over the Houston Astros on Monday. Thursday.
The margin of defeat of 16 is tied for the largest in Astros history. This was the seventh time Houston had been hit this badly, according to ESPN Stats & Info, and the last time was against the Colorado Rockies on September 25, 2011.
The Red Sox hit season-highs with 17 runs and 24 hits, the most runs and hits the World Series champions have allowed this year. Boston has at least one home run in 13 straight games, the team’s longest streak since taking home a 19-game winning streak in 2019.
The 24 strikeouts in the game were Boston’s most since August 15, 2015, and the 16-run margin of victory was the team’s highest since its 19-3 victory over the New York Yankees on July 25, 2019.
“They were so hot,” said Astros manager Dusty Baker. “The bats were hot and they could hit, and when the strikes start, it’s hard to stop them.”
Verdugo drove in two runs and Abreu, who debuted on Tuesday, added four RBI in the victory.
“He’s a good hitter,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “He kept hitting well, even in the end. He was relentless.”
Eight different batters have had multi-hit games for Boston and nine batters have recorded an RBI, which is tied for second among MLB teams this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Tampa Bay had a 10-RBI hit against Seattle on June 30.
The Red Sox were leading 13-1 before Astros’ Martin Maldonado took the mound and gave up five hits, including a homer to Conor Wong, and four runs in the ninth. It was his second career appearance and first since he threw a scoreless inning for the Brewers in 2014.
Boston went 10-for-22 with runners in scoring position, while the Astros were 1-for-12 with 11 men left on base.
Thursday’s lopsided win salvaged a split in the four-match series between the two clubs.
The Astros were hoping to get a solid start from France (9-5) to give the Bulls a taxing break. Instead, the rookie pitched the worst performance of his young career, giving up 11 hits and 10 runs — both career highs — without getting out of the third inning.
“It doesn’t look like he and (hunter) Yeiner (Diaz) have been on the same page for a while,” Becker said. “You could tell they were out of sync and…the guy was great to us. I know he feels bad.”
Boston’s Brian Bellew (10-7) struck out nine hits and ran in seven innings for his second straight win.
The Red Sox got going right away as Verdugo sent France’s third pitch to the bench in right field for his third leadoff homer of the season.
There was one player winless in the second half when Abreu moved to right center to extend the lead to 3-0. Abreu is a former Astros client who was traded to the Red Sox last season as part of a deal for catcher Christian Vázquez.
“As soon as I hit that ball, I knew it was gone,” Abreu said through a translator. “I can’t put into words what I felt in that moment…but it was an amazing experience and a great feeling, and I’m so glad that day happened.”
Rafael Devers hit an RBI single with one out in the inning to make it 5–0.
Luis Urías added an RBI double with one out in the third and Verdugo hit another run on a single later in the inning to give Boston a 7–0 lead. France Devers then walked to load the bases and end his day.
Brandon Belak, who was called up from Triple-A Sugar Land on Thursday, hit Justin Turner with a pitch before walking Adam Duvall to send home two more runs. Masataka Yoshida singled next to make it 10-0, and the Red Sox added another home run by Pablo Reyes.
Mauricio Dupont doubled to start the fifth and made the Astros 11-1 when he scored on a single by Alex Bregman. Yordan Alvarez went 1-for-3 in his comeback after missing two games after hitting a door with his left hand and injuring his index finger.
Red Sox: Closer Kenley Jansen was unavailable Thursday after he left Wednesday night’s game due to tight right hamstring. Cora said Jansen will be evaluated when they return to Boston on Friday, and the team hopes to avoid being put on the injured list.
Astros: Michael Brantley (right shoulder surgery) will return to Sugar Land to resume his rehabilitation assignment this weekend. Baker said Brantley, who has not played since June 2022, was not ready to return and needed more time at Sugar Land before returning to the Astros.
Boston: RHP Kutter Crawford (6-6, 3.66 ERA) will start Friday’s opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
HOUSTON: LHP Framber Valdez (9-9, 3.55 ERA) starts for the Astros against Detroit RHP Matt Manning (5-4, 4.31) Friday night in the first of three games against the Tigers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.