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Astros ride big 1st to 2nd 10-game streak

@brianmctaggart
May 19, 2019

BOSTON -- The Astros are leaving little room for debate that they’re the best team in the Major Leagues, and no one can contest they’re definitely the hottest after they completed their second 10-game winning streak of the season on Saturday. The Astros came to Fenway Park and won a

BOSTON -- The Astros are leaving little room for debate that they’re the best team in the Major Leagues, and no one can contest they’re definitely the hottest after they completed their second 10-game winning streak of the season on Saturday.

The Astros came to Fenway Park and won a series against the defending World Series champion Red Sox, scoring five runs in the first inning on Saturday and running away with a 7-3 victory. They’ve reeled off 10 consecutive wins twice this season -- in only 46 games played.

Box score

“We talk about how special this team really is, and we keep finding ways to surprise outsiders,” said outfielder Josh Reddick, who hit a solo homer in the fifth. “I don’t think we’re surprising ourselves, but we expect this out of ourselves. It’s really spectacular what we can do. That first inning was huge for us.”

The Astros, who improved to a Major League-best 31-15, are only the third team in Major League history to have two winning streaks of at least 10 games before June 1 of a season, following the 1941 Cardinals and 1955 Dodgers. In franchise history, only the 1969 Astros won 10 games twice in a season.

Standing in the way of their streak will be Red Sox lefty Chris Sale, who starts on Sunday coming off a 17-strikeout performance against the Rockies.

“Obviously, it’s a huge accomplishment,” manager AJ Hinch said. “These guys out here, they’re playing hard, they’re playing well, we’re playing good defense, we’re pitching, we’re hitting. When we play all facets like that, we have a chance to win every night. You put these streaks together, and they’re fun. We try not to look too much into it. We have a big obstacle tomorrow in Sale, but we expect to win when we show up.”

Houston, which also won 10 in a row from April 5-16 after a 2-5 start, is hitting .311 with 24 homers and averaging 7.6 runs per game during its 10-game streak. The Astros have won 13 of their last 14 games, mashing 36 homers in that span.

“That team can put up runs,” Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. “Obviously, they’re the hottest team right now in baseball."

The Astros eliminated the Red Sox on their way to the World Series title in 2017 and saw the Red Sox turn the tables last year. Houston is playing like a team with a chip on its shoulder and with something to prove despite winning 103 games in 2018.

“This series is going to make that statement a little bit truer when we can come here and hopefully sweep them tomorrow and make a bigger statement,” Reddick said. “I feel like this is the team to beat with us, and we have a target on our back even though we didn’t make it all the way last year. I feel like other teams think that as well, because they see how dangerous we really are.”

George Springer crushed Red Sox starter Hector Velazquez’s first pitch for a triple to center field, and the Astros were off and running.

Michael Brantley hit an RBI double and Reddick added a sac fly -- the only out Velazquez recorded of the six batters he faced. Velazquez was out after 30 pitches, and Tyler White greeted reliever Colten Brewer with a two-run double for a 5-0 lead.

Rookie Corbin Martin, in his second big league start, induced only two swings-and-misses after striking out nine in his debut on Sunday and pitched into the fifth before Josh James came out of the bullpen and fired three scoreless innings for the win.

“We put up really good at-bats early -- five or six in a row to start the game,” Hinch said. “You look up, and we have a 5-0 lead. I don’t have to say it’s comfortable, but it kick-starts the night into our favor. We play ahead very well, obviously. Good win for us.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.