The Red Sox and Astros will meet for the first time since the ALCS
By Isaac Aaron
The Boston Red Sox will meet the Houston Astros for the first time since the ALCS and it could be a make or break series for both teams.
On October 18th, 2018, Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers would come up to the plate with runners on first and third with one out. This wasn’t just any at-bat for Devers, however, as the Red Sox were just one win away from going back to the World Series. They were in Houston, facing Justin Verlander the day after winning a nail-biter which was capped off by a game-saving Andrew Benintendi catch in left.
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An extraordinary catch that would give Boston the commanding 3-1 series lead. So with Devers coming up and nobody out, the Red Sox were looking for some insurance runs as they had already been up 1-0 via a J.D. Martinez home run in the third.
Raffy would take the first pitch he saw into the left-field Crawford box seats in Minute Maid Park, extending the lead to 4-0. Meanwhile, David Price would strike out 9 while hurling 6 shutout innings. The Red Sox would win the game, take the pennant, eliminate the defending World Series champions and well, you know the rest.
Skip ahead almost exactly 7 months from that moment, and these two teams are slated to meet again for the first time since October. The Red Sox haven’t started out the year exactly as planned, currently sitting in third place, and 4 games back of the Rays. They’ve caught fire recently, however, winning 12 of their last 15 games.
The Astros, on the other hand, have started off just right. They are riding a 29-15 record, and have won 11 of their last 12. That is the definition of on fire; now it was a bunch of lesser teams that they were going up against, you can only beat the teams that are in front of you, and that’s exactly what Houston has done.
If you want an idea of how good this Astros lineup has been thus far, think about this for a second. Out of every hitter in the Astros lineup, all but one have an OPS over .800, with 6 players having one over .900. George Springer leads the way with a 1.051 OPS and he’s a leadoff hitter, mind you. Michael Brantley has been awesome for his new team and Alex Bregman along with Carlos Correa have done exactly what’s been expected of them.
Even the guys in the bottom of the order such as Josh Reddick, Robinson Chirinos, and Jake Marisnick are doing extremely well. You also have to factor in that former MVP Jose Altuve is on the Injured List right now. This offense has been insanely good and they don’t even have one of their marquee players. That’s just nuts.
As for Boston, their best hitters up until this point have been Mookie Betts, JD, Devers, and despite hitting in the low .200’s, Mitch Moreland who has also been extremely productive. This matchup over the weekend is a great one for many reasons that Houston currently has the edge on.
That’s not to say the Red Sox won’t catch up to the Stros eventually in the standings. It can happen, there’s just no doubt at the moment that Houston is the best team in baseball.
So this is going to be a big challenge for the Red Sox, as this Astros team is no joke. The offense is absolutely smashing as you can see above and if you thought losing Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton would be a problem for the rotation, it has been anything but. Gerrit Cole will get the start for Houston on Friday night, followed by Corbin Martin on Saturday and Brad Peacock on Sunday.
Over Cole’s last 4 starts, he has a 2.39 ERA with 42 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings. Rick Porcello, who will get the nod on Friday night to face Cole has been solid in his last 6 starts, with a 3.47 ERA along with 32 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings. The other two starters for Boston over the weekend are still to be decided.
So although this is only a May series, it’s a potentially big one, as both these teams are juggernauts. There will be some new faces between these teams as well, with Micheal Chavis being one of them. If the Red Sox can leave Fenway on Sunday with 2/3 from the Astros, I’d call it a success. That should be the goal. Get it done.