Jose Altuve Flexes His Muscles and the Astros Flatten Chris Sale

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The former Monarch makes his 17th MLB postseason start Thursday in the American League Division Series - but his first wearing a Houston Astros uniform.

Astros starter Justin Verlander, meanwhile, kept the Red Sox in the ballpark and largely off-balance for six innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Chris Sale will likely start in the first game, followed by either Rick Porcello or Pomeranz.

"We have got to go through a protocol here to determine his inactivity before we make a roster move", Boston manager John Farrell said. Carlos Correa would get off the races early for the Astros, hitting a two-run shot in the first inning. The Red Sox dropped five of their last seven games to wrap up the regular season at Fenway Park.

These two teams went head to head seven times through the season so far, and things were pretty even, with the Astros just getting their noses out in front, winning four of the seven games.

State of the series: The clubs play again Friday at Minute Maid Park, with Drew Pomeranz starting for the Red Sox against the Astros' Dallas Keuchel.

Buoyed by chants of "MVP" in each trip to the plate, the 5-foot-6 Altuve hit solo homers in the first and fifth innings off Sale. There he gave up eight runs off ten hits over six innings, the most runs he gave up in any appearance previous year.

After a Jackie Bradley Jr. hit an RBI single in the second to cut the Red Sox deficit to 2-1, Houston pulled away. Becoming the 9th player in history to hit 3 home runs in a single postseason game. Max Schezer, who was pushed back in the rotation because of an injured right hamstring, starts Game 3 for Washington on Monday vs. Jose Quintana, who went 7-3 for the World Series champions after being acquired from the White Sox during the All-Star break.

Verlander, a trade-deadline acquisition for the Astros, has gone 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA since coming over from Detroit.

"To be honest with you", he said, "I already forgot about my batting title".

"We got to win another game, we got to continue to play like we've been playing the first two games", said catcher Brian McCann.

"We've just got to hit", Ramirez said later.

CARLOS CORREA: The Boston Red Sox got exhausted of Jose Altuve hitting home runs, so the decision was made to walk to Altuve to face Correa. Last year's nightmarish flop in Game 1 of the 2016 ALDS against the Indians is still fresh in the minds of Red Sox fans. Whether it was the loss of David Ortiz or the lack of power or any other theory, people tried to put their finger on the lack of buzz surrounding the team that used to own Boston's hearts and minds for 12 months of every year. They nearly did that in 2015, but the Royals came back to win Games 4 and 5.

MOOKIE BETTS: Betts is one of the most important players for the Red Sox - they're not going to compete in this series if he doesn't find a way to break out. The Astros have the slight advantage here with pitching as their starters have been on point all season long. Brad Peacock (13-2) starts for Houston against Doug Fister (5-9).