Carlos Correa and the Astros take the Red Sox to the woodshed once again

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Sometimes, when a team loses, there is room for finger-pointing and criticism. Sometimes, however, they just get whupped. That’s what’s gone down in Minute Maid Park in Houston the past two days anyway. The Astros pounded the Red Sox once again this afternoon, winning 8-2 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in their best of five Division Series.

Game 1’s hero was Jose Altuve, who smacked three homers. Altuve was solid once again today, going 2-for-3, walking twice, driving in a run and scoring twice. The hero of Game 2, however, was Carlos Correa.

In the first inning, with Altuve on first base after a single, Correa took a 91 m.p.h. Drew Pomeranz fastball way deep to left field to make it 2-0 Houston. Boston put a run on the board with a Jackie Bradley Jr. RBI single in the second, but Houston increased its lead in the third with an Altuve RBI single and a homer from George Springer to make it 4-1.

Both teams were kept off the board for the next few innings, with David Price providing the Red Sox’ only bright spot in the form of two and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief, but Houston put the game away with a four-run sixth inning. The rally was highlighted by Correa’s two-run double and lowlighted — for Boston anyway — with this rather interesting play from Mookie Betts:

That came on a shallow fly ball off the bat of Alex Bregman that likely would not have scored the runner from third but did so anyway thanks to the miscue. How much of that play by Betts was attributable to what is clearly an injured thumb — it was bothering him greatly during an eighth inning at bat — is unknown, but we’ll likely hear more about that tonight and into the weekend. Later that inning Evan Gattis‘ RBI single plated Correa gave Houston its eighth run. Boston added a second run in the top of the ninth, but it was too little, too late.

The clubs are now en route to Boston where they’ll get a day off tomorrow before Sunday’s Game 3. It’s not impossible for the Sox to make a comeback or, at the very least, to make this series competitive, of course, but thus far they’ve been at the Astros mercy.

Not because they’ve done anything wrong, really. They’re just getting beat by what appears to be a clearly superior ballclub.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.