It's playoff time

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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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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