Astros' bullpen shows its potential vs. Sox

Having Devenski, Harris, Giles all clicking could be lethal for Houston in postseason

Astros' bullpen shows its potential vs. Sox

BOSTON -- The postseason-bound Indians, Red Sox and Yankees have the three best bullpens in the American League, when measured by ERA and batting average against. The Astros' bullpen has had a few bumps in the road this season, but it showed how lethal it can be in Friday's 3-2 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

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Houston's relief corps, which entered Friday ranked 10th in the AL in bullpen ERA, held the Red Sox to one hit in 3 2/3 innings in relief of Charlie Morton. No out was bigger than Chris Devenski entering the game with the bases loaded in the sixth and retiring Hanley Ramirez on a grounder.

Devenski followed with a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out a pair, Will Harris worked a scoreless eighth and Ken Giles pitched around a two-out double by Ramirez in the ninth to lock down his 34th save in 38 opportunities, keeping the Astros one game behind the Indians for the best record in the AL. Cleveland owns the tiebreaker for the AL's No. 1 seed and has a magic number of one to clinch home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs.

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"Our 'pen is good," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I know we've used them a lot this year, and [at] different times they've all gone through a little bit of a lull. I have a lot of trust in these guys. I think these guys are going to come through when we need it. They're making big pitches. They're our guys and they've all done something remarkable, and if we can get them going at the same time, we're going to be really tough to beat."

Harris' rebound from a shoulder injury that cost him six weeks in the summer will be key for the bullpen heading into October. He's thrown 9 2/3 innings in 11 games since his return, including hitless, scoreless outings in four of his last five appearances.

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"My shoulder feels great," Harris said. "Everything kind of feels good. I just feel normal now for me. It's been nice. Guys have stepped up down there and been pitching really, really well. It's always a good thing when it's competitive to get innings. That's obviously a positive for any team, which is why we're where we're at."

Hinch said Harris is throwing the ball firmer with a power breaking ball again.

"When he's attacking the zone like that early, he can get them to expand," Hinch said. "The high fastball to [Andrew] Benintendi [on a strikeout in the eighth] was a good pitch. He didn't make the All-Star team by accident last year. He's a real weapon when he's right."

Getting Devenski -- who had consecutive rough outings earlier this month -- back on track is another key storyline for the Astros heading into the playoffs. Like Harris, Devenski has posted hitless, scoreless outings in four of his past five, including strikeouts of Sandy Leon and Rajai Davis to end the seventh Friday.

"Is there anybody better in big moments than Devo? He's pretty good," Hinch said.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.