It's playoff time

Previewing the Astros-Red Sox American League Divisional Series

Previewing the Astros-Red Sox American League Divisional Series
Will the Astros make the plays they need to in order to beat the Red Sox. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Tomorrow afternoon the Astros start their quest for the 11 playoff wins they need to get the first World Series in franchise history. First up, the Boston Red Sox whom the Astros won 4 out of 7 games against in the regular season. Big disclaimer on that, though, they never faced Chris Sale. On the flip side, the Red Sox never went up against Keuchel this season either. So, how the series will ultimately go is hard to predict, but I’m going to give it a shot:

Game 1 – 3:08 PM Thursday, October 5th @ Houston
Starting Pitchers: Sale v. Verlander

Although the Astros didn’t face Sale this year, they did play him a couple of times last year. Altuve went 3 for 7 against him including a homer, while Springer and Correa combined to go 3 for 15 with five strikeouts. However, I’d argue that Altuve is the same great hitter, and Correa and Springer are improved, meaning there’s a good chance they do even better than those numbers suggest. Verlander and Sale have gone head to head twice this year when Verlander was with the Tigers. In the first meeting on April 10th the Tigers won 2-1 as Verlander edged out Sale by giving up just one run in seven innings while Sale gave up two in seven and two-thirds. In the second head-to-head matchup, Verlander did much worse, giving up three runs in just five innings while Sale gave up three in seven innings of work as the Red Sox went on to win that one 11-3. I think Verlander pitches a great game and benefits from the strong Astros offense behind him that do enough against Sale to get the series started with a win at home. Prediction: Astros win 4-2.

Game 2 – 1:05 PM Friday, October 6th @ Houston
Starting Pitchers: Pomeranz v. Keuchel

Pomeranz has done really well against the Astros this year in two starts, going at least six innings in both starts and giving up just one run in each game allowing the Red Sox to win both, one in Houston and one in Boston. However, Keuchel at home is almost always a lock to be lights out, and I expect nothing less in a playoff game. I think with the crowd behind them, the offense pulls this one out behind a strong showing from Keuchel. Prediction: Astros win 5-1.

Game 3 – 1:30 PM Sunday, October 8th @ Boston
Starting Pitchers: TBD

We don’t know who the pitchers will be just yet, but I expect it’ll be Peacock going for the Astros on Sunday. I think the Red Sox offense will be fired up to be at home, enough to allow them to edge out their one win against the Astros on Sunday. That being said, it would not surprise me by any means if the Astros get the three-game sweep. Prediction: Red Sox win 5-4

Game 4 (If Necessary)- Time TBD Monday, October 9th @ Boston
Starting Pitchers: TBD

Game 4 is another game that’s hard to give exact numbers and reasoning on since so many things could change depending on decisions the Red Sox could make if they are down 2-1 or vice versa for the Astros. The Red Sox could be desperate enough to put Sale back out on extremely short rest or start Porcello or Rodriguez. I think the Astros will be up 2-1 and trust Morton to get the job done and he does just that. Prediction: Astros win 7-3

Game 5 (If Necessary) – Time TBD Wednesday, October 11th @ Houston
Starting Pitchers: TBD

I don’t see this series going 5 games. If it does, however, there are a few things to consider. The ghosts of 2015 could sneak up on the Astros where they blew a 2-1 lead and lost the series to the Royals, allowing the Red Sox to sneak one over. I think this team is too mature for that, though, and with home field advantage, I don’t see them falling to the same fate in 2017. Prediction: Game Not Necessary, But If I’m Wrong, Astros win 6-2

Ultimately, I think this Astros offense will be too much for the Red Sox to handle, especially if they play like they did the last week of the season. I expect Verlander and Keuchel to be dominant, and for the Astros to get a great effort out of Peacock and Morton, whom I expect to be the third and fourth starters. That means you potentially have Mchugh and McCullers in the bullpen, which if brought in to pitch only pitch one or two innings could do some real damage. Kimbrel may be a monster, but Giles has been pretty dominant as well, and guys like Musgrove and Devenski have been great too. All of this isn’t to say the Red Sox aren’t dangerous or talented, I just think the Astros get it done with home-field advantage.

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Astros lose to Braves, 6-2. Composite Getty Image.

Reynaldo López struck out seven over six scoreless innings, Orlando Arcia homered and the Atlanta Braves won their third straight, 6-2 over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

López (2-0) allowed four hits and walked one in his third straight sterling outing to start the season.

“It’s like I’ve always said, for me, the important thing is to focus,” López said through an interpreter. “To have the focus during the outings and then, to be able to locate those pitches.”

He has given up one run in 18 innings for an ERA of 0.50.

“He threw the ball really well against a really good hitting club,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Another solid one.”

Arcia hit a solo home run to left in the second and a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Luis Guillorme and backup catcher Chadwick Tromp each hit a two-run double in the ninth to put the Braves ahead 6-0.

“Tromp has done a good job ever since we’ve been bringing him in these situations and filling in,” Snitker said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in him back there. ... He’s an aggressive hitter. He’s knocked in some big runs for us in the limited time that he’s played.”

Kyle Tucker homered for the Astros leading off the ninth against Aaron Bummer, and Mauricio Dubón had a two-out RBI single to cut the lead to four. After Bummer walked Chas McCormick to put two on, Raisel Iglesias induced a groundout by Victor Caratini to end it and secure his fourth save.

“They pitched well, and our guys are grinding out at-bats,” Houston manager Joe Espada said. “Even in the ninth inning there, we’re grinding, fighting until the end.”

Hunter Brown (0-3) yielded two runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks in six innings. Brown allowed nine runs in two-thirds of an inning in his previous start, last Thursday against Kansas City.

Brown said he executed better Tuesday than he had in his previous two starts.

“He mixed all his pitches well,” Espada said. “The breaking ball was effective. He threw some cutters in on the hands to some of those lefties. He mixed his pitches really well. That was a really strong performance.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves: 2B Ozzie Albies was placed on the 10-day injured list with a broken right big toe. IF David Fletcher had his contract selected from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Albies’ place on the roster.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Tuesday, but Houston will wait until Wednesday to see how Verlander feels before deciding whether he will make his first start this weekend against the Nationals, Espada said. ... RHP Luis Garcia (right elbow surgery) threw around 20-25 pitches off the bullpen mound, and RHP José Urquidy (right forearm strain) also threw off the mound, Espada said. ... LHP Framber Valdez (left elbow soreness) played catch off flat ground.

UP NEXT

Atlanta LHP Max Fried (1-0, 8.74 ERA) starts Wednesday in the series finale opposite RHP J.P. France (0-2, 8.22).

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