HOUSTON — The Astros know who their starter will be for Game 3 at Fenway Park Monday night: Righthander José Urquidy, manager Dusty Baker announced.
The Red Sox? They’ll get back to you.
Eduardo Rodriguez and Nick Pivetta are the leading choices. Rodriguez faced Houston twice this season and allowed 12 earned runs on 13 hits and five walks over 9⅓ innings. Pivetta faced the Astros on June 2 at Minute Maid Park, and gave up two runs on three hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out nine.
However it works out, both will be needed at some point in the series.
Urquidy was 8-3 with a 3.62 earned run average in 20 starts in the regular season. The 26-year-old did not appear in the Division Series, but is 1-1 with a 2.81 earned run average in eight games of postseason experience, four of them starts. Urquidy faced the Sox at Minute Maid Park on May 31, and allowed one run on three hits over six innings and struck out nine with one walk.
Hunter Renfroe’s double down the left-field line drove in Rafael Devers and gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead in the third inning of Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night. Should it have been 4-1?
Replays showed the ball shot between the legs of a stool used by a ball boy and caromed into left field. Had it continued down the line, J.D. Martinez could have scored. Instead he stopped at third.
Cora couldn’t see the play from where he stood in the dugout. He learned about it after seeing a replay Saturday morning.
“I don’t know. If that ball goes down the line, maybe we score,” he said. “J.D. is not the fastest guy. But [Houston left fielder Yordan] Álvarez is not the fastest guy either.”
One replay showed the ball ricocheted around the stool as left-field umpire Jim Wolf signaled safe, meaning it was not a dead ball. But MLB’s replay system would have utilized multiple angles.
“When I saw it, I was like, ‘Wow, unreal.’ It just happens. Things happen in games,” Cora said. “From where we were, there was nothing we could do.”
MLB senior vice president of on-field operations Raúl Ibañez was at the game and the issue didn’t come up after the game with the umpires.
Renfroe thought he had a chance to drive in two runs.
“I saw the replay. It’s too bad it didn’t go down the line,” he said. “But the ball boys are in play. If it’s a dead ball it’s two bases and J.D. was on first. So who knows?”
Shaw is steady
For a second, Travis Shaw looked like he had a two-run homer in the eighth inning Friday when he pinch hit for Christian Vázquez. But the 335-foot shot off Kendall Graveman was caught on the warning track in right field.
“He put a good at-bat. It’s amazing what he’s doing,” Cora said. “That was a really good at-bat.”
Shaw is 1 for 3 in the postseason, seeing 15 pitches. He’s the only lefthanded hitter on the bench, although Danny Santana is a switch-hitter.
Graveman, Houston’s primary set-up man, held righthanded hitters to a .348 OPS. That’s where Cora wants to use Shaw.
“He’s going to be a big part of this,” the manager predicted.
Baker was asked about the dearth of Black managers in the majors and was pleased to steer the conversation toward Red Sox bench coach Will Venable.
“Will is a bright young man. Very conscientious young man. His dad and I grew up together in Sacramento, Max Venable,” Baker said.
“So I’ve been knowing of the Venables for quite a while. Comes from a great family. He checks all the boxes. Not only did he play, but he is African-American. Everybody is going to Ivy League as a criteria for something, and he is an Ivy League guy too. So it’s hard to say that he doesn’t fit everything. I’m pulling for Will.”
Cora is 16-5 in the playoffs with the Sox. The only other manager to win 16 of his first 21 playoff games was Hall of Famer Earl Weaver from 1969-71 with the Orioles . . . The crowd of 41,476 was the largest of the season at Minute Maid Park . . . Rookie center fielder Jake Meyers missed another game for Houston, the product of a collision with a wall in Game 4 of the Division Series. “He’ll be 100 percent when we get to Boston,” Baker predicted . . . The Astros will work out at Minute Maid Park on Sunday morning before flying to Boston . . . Garrett Richards briefly played catch on the field three hours before first pitch. The righthander strained his left hamstring before Game 2 of the Division Series, was replaced on the roster, and is not eligible to return until the World Series. “Slower than what we thought,” was Cora’s assessment of Richards’ recovery. “It was the right decision to put him on the IL because he’s not ready to pitch. Hopefully he’s healthy by the end of the series and if we win four then we’ll make a decision” . . . The “taxi squad” of extra Red Sox players has been renamed the “Uber Squad” by José Iglesias. “There’s no taxis out there. Everything’s Uber,” Cora explained. “So we’ve got the Uber Squad.”