BOSTON – For a few seconds it looked like the inning was over. Then, a couple of minutes later, Jose Altuve’s grand slam broke the game open.
Altuve hit his first slam after Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts made a mental gaffe on a play that would have ended an inning Sunday, carrying the Houston Astros to an 8-1 victory over the Red Sox.
Leading 2-0, the Astros got a break when manager Bo Porter won a challenge and they scored four runs after Bogaerts’ mistake. The shortstop picked up Marwin Gonzalez’s grounder, ran to second for what looked like a force and fired to first. The problem was he threw the ball about a step before he tagged the bag. After Joe Kelly walked the bases full, Altuve homered into the Green Monster seats.
“That there’s a big play,” said Porter, who said he was first told by the umpires that the play wasn’t reviewable. “You look at that stage of the game and what proceeded to happen after that, Altuve with the big grand slam, one could say that was the biggest play of the game.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected by first-base umpire Doug Eddings after Altuve’s slam when he came out to argue.
“My initial explanation on the field was that it was a neighborhood play,” Farrell said. “My interpretation is that neighborhood play should not be determined by a feed throw or not, a neighborhood play is not a reviewable play.”
Crew chief Jim Joyce, speaking to a pool reporter from the AP, said because he had never seen the play before that the crew decided to ask the replay center for help.
“Actually, we have not have had that play per say where the shortstop or the second baseman go right to the bag on their own,” he said. “So, just to make everything clear, I explained to Bo that I was going to ask New York, the replay center, if it was in fact reviewable because a neighborhood play is not. New York came back to me and said, ‘Yes, that play is reviewable’ and I came back to them and said, ‘OK, Houston is challenging that play’ and that was the outcome.”
Altuve, who leads the majors in hits, went 4 for 5, raising his hit total to 173 and majors’ best average to .339 as the Astros completed a split of the four-game series.
Dexter Fowler and Jon Singleton added solo homers for Houston, which earned its 52nd win to surpass last year’s total.
Daniel Nava had an RBI double for Boston.
Collin McHugh (6-9) gave up one run on seven hits in six innings for Houston.
Kelly (0-1) was tagged for seven runs on seven hits, walking six over four innings in his Fenway Park debut with the Red Sox. He was acquired at the non-waiver trade deadline along with first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig for right-hander John Lackey.
Fowler’s homer in the third made it 7-0.
WHAT A DAY
Altuve became the first Astros’ player to collect four hits and a slam in the same game since Jeff Bagwell did it on April 9, 2004 at Milwaukee. He also matched his career high with the hits for the seventh time, last came on June 27 against Detroit.
The Astros entered the day second in the majors with 50 homers since July 1. They have 16 games this season with three or more homers and have gone 14-2.
Astros 1B Jesus Guzman, on the DL since August 2 with back spasms and on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City, is eligible to come off.
Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia was out sick and it was his 31st birthday. He had three homers in seven previous games on his birthday.
The Astros are off Monday before opening a three-game series at Yankee Stadium Tuesday when LHP Brett Oberholtzer (4-8, 3.87 ERA) is scheduled to face New York’s lefty Chris Capuano (1-3, 4.13).
RHP Brandon Workman (1-6, 4.45 ERA) is slated to go for Boston Monday, facing C. J. Wilson (9-8, 4.71 ERA) when the Red Sox open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels.
Actor Matthew McConaughey watched the game from the second row down the left-field line just past the Astros’ dugout. He appeared to go fairly unnoticed until he left in the top of the ninth and many fans took pictures and shook hands as he was walking out.