HOUSTON -- The Astros had the biggest run differential in the Majors during the regular season, but mashing at that pace in the postseason is probably unrealistic.Select Houston batters continued to add to their already record-setting statistics with more hits in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against
HOUSTON -- The Astros had the biggest run differential in the Majors during the regular season, but mashing at that pace in the postseason is probably unrealistic.
Select Houston batters continued to add to their already record-setting statistics with more hits in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against Boston on Tuesday. But collectively, the timely hit eluded the Astros -- and they lost big, 8-2, to the Red Sox at Minute Maid Park.
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"You're not going to be perfect at this stage of the year with facing really good pitching when they execute their pitches," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "But if we do feel like we give ourselves enough opportunities, then we're going to find that hit."
It didn't happen this time, though the game wasn't without its notable contributions from the usual suspects. Alex Bregman's first-inning single extended his postseason streak of reaching base to 15 games, and George Springer's third-inning single extended his team-record postseason hitting streak to 12 games.
But overall, hits were scarce in this swing game with the Red Sox, who now lead the best-of-seven ALCS, 2-1. Houston managed just seven hits, none off of the final three relievers Boston utilized to seal the win.
"There is no time for frustration or to feel sorry for ourselves," said Jose Altuve, who went 2-for-3 as the Astros' designated hitter. "We have a couple of games that we need to win. I'm not worried about my team. The confidence is there. We have Marwin [Gonzalez], Springer and Breggie. They're hot right now. I know we're all going to come back tomorrow and try to win the game."
The Astros scored their runs in the first and fifth innings. Altuve lined a single off Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi in the opening frame and scored on Gonzalez's base hit to right. Altuve also came home four innings later after walking and scoring on Bregman's double that rolled to the corner in left.
In between, Houston managed three baserunners, and, overall, the Astros stranded at least one in six different innings.
"We definitely pride ourselves in two-out hitting, having traffic on the bases and driving in runs," Bregman said. "We didn't do a good enough job of that today, but I can guarantee you, when everyone shows up at the ballpark tomorrow, we're going to have all the confidence in the world in each other and we'll compete and lay it on the line."
The Astros' track record this October, and combined with last year, suggests Bregman may be on to something. Before the streak ended on Tuesday, Houston had homered in a Major League-record 14 straight postseason games. Springer has 36 career postseason hits, which ranks second on the Astros' all-time list and is three behind Hall of Famer Craig Biggio for the most in team history.
Springer's teammates aren't far behind him -- Altuve has 33 career postseason hits and Carlos Correa has 32.
But the Astros' bats were quiet against Eovaldi on Tuesday. The right-hander walked two and struck out four over a 92-pitch, six-inning outing, marking his second strong start of the postseason. He has allowed three earned runs over 13 postseason innings, spanning two starts.
Eovaldi, who grew up in nearby Alvin, Texas, acknowledged making adjustments against a Houston lineup that tends to feast on high-velocity pitching.
"First time through the lineup, I attacked them with a lot of fastballs, and they were aggressive," Eovaldi said. "That second time through, I wanted to at least get that first-pitch strike with offspeed pitches and kind of try to read their swings. I think I had a quick inning that inning as well, so I was able to get some quick outs with my offspeed pitches."
Given what time of year it is, the Astros realize they're not going to be facing much weak pitching, unlike the regular season, which features a wide range of talent levels. In that respect, they took Tuesday's loss in stride as something that happens in October.
"If you're in the postseason and you're on the mound, whatever team you're on, you're a really good pitcher," Bregman said. "They have game plans on every single hitter that we have. And we have a game plan to attack them. It's a cat-and-mouse game in the postseason. It's the best form of baseball possible. Elite pitching against elite hitting."
Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.