For the first time ever, the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros will face off in baseball’s postseason as they open the best-of-5 American League Division Series in Houston on Thursday. MLB odds have the Astros as -190series favourites at Sports Interaction.
Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros
Game 1: Thursday, 4:08 p.m. ET
Where: Minute Maid Park, Houston
Series Line: Astros -190, Red Sox +150
Houston won the regular-season series 4-3. The two teams faced off at Fenway Park on the final weekend, a meaningless series for the Astros – but they won three of the four. Boston’s lone victory was Saturday when it clinched the AL East Division; believe it or not, it’s the first time the Red Sox have won back-to-back division titles. Houston clinched the AL West weeks ago.
The Boston hitter with the most success vs. Houston in 2017 was shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who batted .304 with two homers and five RBIs. Mookie Betts was 6-for-20 with two solo homers. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit only .182 in 22 at-bats and Andrew Benintendi was an ugly 2-for-21 against Houston pitching. For the Astros, Carlos Correa was 11-for-21 against Boston with two homers and five RBIs. Jose Altuve hit .417, Marwin Gonzalez .364, Carlos Beltran .357, Yuli Gurriel .333 and Brian McCann .333 with three homers.
Boston Red Sox
Former Blue Jays skipper John Farrell is the first Boston manager to win three division titles, having also guided the Sox to last year’s and the 2013 AL East crown and, eventually, that year’s World Series championship. Boston finished 10th in the majors in runs scored despite hitting just 168 homers, the fewest in the American League. The Sox didn’t have a regular hit better than .300, with second baseman Dustin Pedroia leading the team at .293. Betts leads the club in homers (24) and RBIs (102). The Sox were fourth in MLB in team ERA at 3.70. That group was led by Cy Young candidate Chris Sale (17-8, 2.90), who led the majors with 308 strikeouts. Sale will start Game 1 and, presumably, a Game 5 if it goes that far. The 28-year-old lefty has a 1.31 ERA in six career starts against the Astros, who haven’t faced him since July 2016 while with the White Sox. Sale has never pitched in the postseason.
The Astros led the majors by a wide margin in runs (896) and batting average (.282). All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve (MLB-best .346 with 24 HRs, 81 RBIs) won a third career batting title and is expected to be named the AL MVP. He’s the first player ever to lead the AL or NL in hits for four consecutive seasons. Houston has plenty of power with 11 guys hitting at least 12 homers. Pitching-wise, the Astros were 11th in ERA (4.12). They will start Aug. 31 trade acquisition Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.36) in Game 1. The former Tiger was 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA in five starts since the trade and has plenty of playoff experience. He faced the Red Sox twice this year while with Detroit, not getting a decision despite a 2.25 ERA.
Red Sox vs. Astros Series Prediction
The Verlander trade changed everything for Houston. It wins the series in five.