Harris makes pitch, but ambushed by Betts

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HOUSTON — The Astros’ most reliable relief pitcher for the past three seasons threw the fastball he wanted and was tagged for a homer. There wasn’t much right-hander Will Harris could do except tip his cap to Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts, whose leadoff homer in the eighth sent the Red Sox to a 2-1 win over the Astros on Friday night.

The homer was the third allowed in 27 2/3 innings this year by Harris, who ranks among the top 10 in American League relievers in ERA and WHIP since the start of the 2015 season. It was the fourth homer of Harris’ career that came on the first pitch of at-bat (Khris Davis of the A’s did it earlier this year).

“First-pitch fastball away and it generally cuts with Will,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch sid. “Betts is known for taking pitches early in the game, taking the first pitch and then he ambushes you late. He got a pitch and he hooked it into the Crawford Boxes and hit it very well. Pitcher vs. hitter. Hitter wins.”

The homer traveled an estimated 394 fee according to Statcast™, and had a hit probability of 49 percent based on the 25-percent launch angle and 98-mph exit velocity.

“I looked at his reaction when he hit it and he knew he got it,” Harris said. “But yeah, I wouldn’t say it was the best I’ve thrown, but it definitely wasn’t the worst. He’s just an MVP-caliber player, and he got the head out and won the game.”

Betts, who threw out a runner at the plate in the sixth, now has 12 homers on the season.

“The home run came at the big time,” Betts said. “Today was a good day.”

The pitch was a 91.4-mph cutter away that ended Harris’ streak of scoreless appearances at six.

“I didn’t think it was that bad of a pitch,” Harris said. “He just got the barrel out and won the game for his team or whatever, you know? I didn’t think I made a mistake. He made a play.”

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

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