Series Preview: The Red Sox go to Houston to end the first half


The Red Sox are trying to do something they have tried to do all season, namely, get rolling. Two straight walk-off wins after the DFA of A.J. Pierzynski has given the team and Red Sox Nation a sliver of hope that things can be turned around. A sweep, or at least a series win, would go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.

The Houston Astros suffered through one of the worst season for a Major League Baseball team in recent memory in 2013, winning only 51 games while losing 111. In 2013, the Red Sox swept a four-game set from Houston in Boston, and took two out of three in Houston. The 2014 version of the Astros has been better, posting a record of 39-54 so far this season, and getting out of the division cellar, topping the struggling Texas Rangers by one-half game. Like the Red Sox, the Astros have fallen on hard times as of late, losing 16 of their last 23 games. Also, like the Red Sox, they are trying to gain some momentum before the break. They swept a three-game set from the Rangers, scoring 28 runs in the three game series.

The pitching matchups feature Scott Feldman (4-5, 3.86) vs. a struggling John Lackey(9-6, 3.84, but 10.29 ERA over his last three starts) in the first game. Collin McHugh (4-8, 3.28) vs. Jake Peavy (1-7, 4.64) is the matchup in the second game. To close out the first half, we will see Jarred Cosart (9-6, 4.17) vs. Clay Buchholz (3-5, 6.28).

For some background on the Houston Astros, Greg Thurston from the FanSided Astros website Climbing Tal’s Hill answered some questions for me about the Red Sox’ next opponent.

BSI: The signing of Scott Feldman to a 3 year/ $30 million contract in the offseason was seen as a surprise to some. Was this a good move by the team and has he lived up to the salary?

CTH:  The Astros may have overpaid a bit for Feldman, but it hasn’t been a bad deal to this point. After a hot start, he missed some time and has been average since returning. If he can eat up 180 innings and provide some leadership for the Astros young rotation then I will consider the first year a success. What happens in years 2 and 3 of the contract could be another story. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets traded before the end of the contract.

BSI: Coming off an 111 loss season, expectations could not have been terribly high for this season, but it is clear they will exceed that win total this year, barring a total collapse. What were the Astros goals for the season? How long will it take for them to contend again?

CTH:  I think the goals this year were to : a) not lose 100 games b) avoid having the worst record in the league for the fourth straight season and c) get some of the young prospects some big league experience. If all goes well they could start to make some noise as early as the 2016 season.

BSI: What are some things you’d like to see happen with the Astros for the remainder of this season?

CTH:  I’d like to see relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Albers get healthy. The bullpen is a mess without them. I’d also like to see AAA shortstop Gregorio Petit get a chance to play every day in the big leagues.

BSI: Sox fans may have heard of Carlos Correa, the 2012 #1 overall pick, who has been lost for the year with a broken leg. What other prospects are knocking at the door of the majors for the Astros that we might see playing against the Sox in the near future?

CTH: Starting pitcher Michael Foltynewicz is a prospect that has Astros fans excited. This is his age 22 season and his first at the AAA level. He has a 100 m.p.h. fastball and a good curve to go with it. He could be up by September. Domingo Santana is another youngster on the horizon. The 21-year old outfielder was recently called up when Dexter Fowler went on the disabled list. Unfortunately, he was overmatched by big league pitching and was sent back down after only 13 at-bats. He has a lot of power and a great arm in the outfield. I hope to see him back in September.

Thanks to Greg Thurston for his insight on the Astros. You can also find him on Twitter: @astrossince1975.