Sunday was one last tune-up, and the 101-62 Astros prevailed, 4-3, in Game No. 162.
"It was an incredible regular season for us," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who guided Houston to its second-highest wins total in team history. "Obviously, we switch gears to the postseason now, but there will be a reflection back on a spectacular regular season. Even with the lull we had in August, to come out of it with 101 wins, a division championship for the city of Houston and our fanbase, it was a great run in the regular season."
The Red Sox finished at 93-69 for the second consecutive season. Houston won the season series, 4-3. Both teams rested many of their regulars
"The familiarity, I think, is a benefit," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We certainly have a better read on them and vice versa, I'm sure. We're looking forward to getting things going. Come Thursday, it will undoubtedly take a different tone. We fully anticipate that."
Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve, a top candidate to win the AL's Most Valuable Player Award, went 0-for-2 but finished with a career-best .346 average to win his third batting title. He's just the third right-handed batter in AL history to win at least three batting titles.
"This one is a little bit more special," Altuve said. "This is the first time I won a batting title and the team is going to the playoffs."
Collin McHugh, trying to win a spot on the ALDS roster for the Astros, held the Red Sox to five hits and three runs over six innings to improve to 16-0 in his career in September/October regular-season games. The righty walked one and struck out eight. Hector Velazquez pitched the first four innings for Boston, firing four shutout innings.
Rafael Devers finished his rookie season in strong fashion when he belted a two-run double off the Green Monster to make it 2-0, Red Sox, in the fourth. Playing in his 58th game of the season, it was the 14th double for Devers.
The Astros stormed back from a 3-0 deficit with four in the seventh against Boston's bullpen. Tony Kemp tied it on an RBI single and Houston went ahead on a sacrifice fly to right by Yuli Gurriel.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Martes fans Young: After Brock Holt alertly moved from first to third on a fielder's choice grounder due to the Astros being in a shift, Chris Young had a chance to drive in the tying run in the bottom of the eighth. However, Astros reliever Francis Martes struck him out on a 97-mph fastball.
"Any time you can get an opportunity to play in the postseason, you have to take advantage of it. Some people play years and years and they never make it. To be able to make it once, and now twice, is pretty special." -- Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Red Sox finished the season with a 3.70 ERA, the club's lowest since 1992.
In the bottom of the third, there was some confusion when Deven Marrero hit a popup that Astros first baseman Colin Moran dropped. The ball was caught right on the line and Marrero hustled to first base. However, it was ruled a foul ball and Marrero had to continue his at-bat, which ended in a strikeout. Farrell called for a challenge, but the call stood because the replay official couldn't definitively tell if the ball was in fair or foul territory when it hit Moran's glove.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: The Astros will meet the Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday in Houston. Hinch will announce the starter on Tuesday.
Red Sox: The Red Sox will work out at Fenway on Tuesday, in Houston on Wednesday and then play Game 1 of the ALDS against the Astros on Thursday. Lefty ace Chris Sale (17-8, 2.90 ERA) will try to get the series off to a strong start for the Red Sox.