The Boston Red Sox have completed their first test of this postseason and get a grade of “A.” Now comes the next test and it will be more difficult and that is the Astros.
The most notable item surfacing is the decision by Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora to start David Price in the second game of the series at Fenway Park. The Astros hit rather well against lefties and, alas, Price has a genetic disposition to use his left hand. And that is the good news.
The bad news is Price has done nothing of merit in his postseason starts to earn such confidence that somehow he will end his 0-9 drought. I am amazed that a pitcher this accomplished – and Price is – can be just so awful when it really counts. Price wins and Cora is a genius. Price fails and Cora is an idiot.
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There is no hate factor surfacing from Red Sox Nation regarding the Astros. No decades of animosity that has fermented to make this a good versus evil. The Astros have clearly accomplished one significant point in our history – dispatching the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS.
Minute Maid Park – formerly known as Enron Field – is just a great park. My last visit was July Fourth weekend in 2011 when the Astros were awful, but that park is clearly constructed with tidbits of other noted parks incorporated into the design. A baseball version of a scavenger hunt trying to decide each.
The Crawford Boxes or Crawford Corner – not named after Carl Crawford – are the left field answer to the Green Monster and an ideal location to catch home runs at Minute Maid. But the highlight of any visit to the park is a giant waffle cone of Blue Bell Ice Cream.
Too bad the Red Sox moved Mookie Betts to right field from his early days second base position. Just think of the chants at Fenway of “Mookie’s better” each time the remarkable Jose Altuve came to the plate. Both are similar in talent and both will – at least real soon – have an MVP on their resume.
The fear factor exists against the Astros pitching with special emphasis on the starters and especially Justin Verlander. Verlander has become the Anti-Price (sorry) in the postseason and expect the same. Then there is the addition of Roberto Osuna in the bullpen, but watch out for fellow righty Ryan Pressly.
After watching Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, can anything in a baseball uniform be larger? Let me say, Evan Gattis! The hulking right-hand slugger is a true behemoth and unlike the Yankee, twosome looks the part of a WWE villain.
The Astros player I enjoy watching is the ever-dangerous George Springer – a right-hand slugger who seems to thrive on the dramatic. Springer reminds me of a long time Astros star Hunter Pence who left before the team became relevant. And both play right field.
The Astros have a Brock Holt only better and that is Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez is more of a regular than Holt since he played in 145 games and – like Holt – all over the place. Gonzalez also is a switch-hitter with a bit more punch than Holt. Gonzalez is also a pending free agent and put on quite a display of hitting aggression against Cleveland.
Alex Bregman could slide into the AL MVP slot if Betts and J.D. Martinez split the vote. Most certainly a long shot and I expect the talented Bregman to finish a respectable third unless voters get all warm and cuddly over Mike Trout‘s bWAR or fWar.
Now for a bit of a travelog for Red Sox fans going to Houston. I would suggest a trip down I-45 towards Galveston and a stop at NASA, the battleship Texas (WW I), San Jacinto Monument, and a stop at Kemah Boardwalk. The boardwalk also has a great wooden roller coaster.
Then head down to Galveston and the historic Strand District with a special visit to La King’s ice cream right in the district. Top it off with a trip to Pleasure Pier. Plenty of restaurants for seaside dining in the Strand.
Can you run on the Astros catchers? In 2017 you could, but even Brian McCann has improved on his 13% CS and brought it up to 32% CS. Then there is Martin Maldonado and his 63% CS. The Astros catchers are limited offensively (19/64/.221) but are Johnny Bench compared to the Boston crew.
Is home field an advantage? If so it is fractional since both teams surpassed 50+ wins on the road. Neither would get rattled as visitors by exuberant fans since both teams have faced the ultimate hostile crowds in New York in 2017 and 2018.
I just cannot see the winner of this series losing to either National League team. The American League has become more of a proving ground than the National League and I would expect a quick demolition of the NL.