(AP) – Dusty Baker doesn’t believe he’s seen the best of Jake Odorizzi.
The Astros manager is hoping the 2019 All-Star right-hander’s latest performance against the Red Sox is a glimpse of what may be on tap going forward.
Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman homered to help Odorizzi pick up his first win since 2019, and Houston rolled past Boston 8-3 on Wednesday night.
Houston has won three straight and will look to sweep the series in Thursday’s finale. Boston led 2-0 early, but the Astros responded with five quick runs to take control.
Odorizzi (1-3) allowed three runs and three hits over five innings, striking out six to post his first victory since Sept. 24, 2019 when he was still with Minnesota. Despite giving up a home run to Xander Bogaerts, he was mostly in control, throwing 54 of his 77 pitches for strikes. Cristian Javier allowed one hit and struck out three over four scoreless innings to get his first save.
Odorizzi called it “a step in the right direction.”
“Obviously I’m going to go through bumps and bruises along the way because I’m still trying to sort things out,” he said. “I feel like I’m blending closer to where I want to be.”
Odorizzi was limited to just four starts for Minnesota during the shortened 2020 season after dealing with a series of non-arm related injuries, including taking a line drive off his chest.
A free agent this past offseason, he didn’t sign with Houston until early March, limiting him during spring training. He was slowed at the start of the season after dealing with forearm tightness. It contributed to him failing to register a win in his first five starts this season.
But he said the arm issue is no longer a factor.
“I just need to keep on my path,” he said.
It was an improvement from Odorizzi's first outing against Boston last week, in which he made it just three innings in what was Boston's only win over Houston this season.
“He showed a lot of progress from the time before. That’s the key," Baker said. "That means he’s en route.”
Nathan Eovaldi (7-3) lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up five runs and a season-high 11 hits while striking out five. The loss snapped his three-game winning streak.
Trailing 2-0, Astros got on the scoreboard in the second when Kyle Tucker scored on Myles Straw’s ground-rule double. Altuve tied it in the third when he connected on a first-pitch fastball from Eovaldi and drove it over the left-field fence for his 10th home run of the season.
Houston added three more runs to take the lead, scoring on Yordan Alvarez’s RBI double, Yuli Gurriel’s ground-rule double and Michael Brantley's single.
Boston got one back in the fourth thanks to Bogaerts’ towering shot to left field.
Houston pushed it back up to 6-3 in the seventh when Brantley scored off Straw’s sacrifice fly, just sliding in under Christian Vázquez's tag following Hunter Renfroe’s throw from right field.
Bregman provided extra cushion in the eighth, blasting a two-run shot over the Green Monster for his seventh homer of the season.
Astros: Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., who has been on the injured list since May 23 (right shoulder soreness) is scheduled to make a rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Sugar Land.
Red Sox: OF Alex Verdugo sat out his second straight game with tightness in his back. He is expected to return for the series finale Thursday.
Red Sox fans haven’t held back during the first two games of the series in their first opportunity to boo Astros players after the team was disciplined in 2020 following a sign-stealing scheme that took place during the club’s 2017 World Series championship season.
Boston manager Alex Cora — Houston's bench coach in 2017 who helped orchestrate the cheating — said the expletive-laced “cheater” chants that have been hurled at Astros players hit him, too.
“Tough to swallow, tough to hear it. Because at the end I was part of that. I was part of the 2017 Astros and I was part of the whole sign-stealing situation,” Cora said before the game. “The fact that they were booed like that, that kind of like hit me, too.”
Astros: Right-hander Zach Greinke is coming off the 17th complete game of his career. He is the only major-league pitcher in 2021 to throw eight or more innings four times.
Red Sox: Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (5-4, 5.59) has struggled in his last five starts, going 0-4 with a 7.92 ERA.
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