Houston Astros (100-60 SU, 85-75 RL, 80-71-9 O/U) vs. Boston Red Sox (92-68 SU, 84-76 RL, 70-84-6 O/U)
MLB: Sunday, October 1, 2017, Fenway Park, Boston, Massachusetts, 1:05 pm ET
Lines: Boston N/A, Houston N/A; Over/Under: N/A
It’s the conclusion of the final series of the year and a potential AL Division Series preview in Beantown. The Houston Astros are on the road for the final game of a four game set against the Boston Red Sox Sunday afternoon. Houston rolled to an easy win in the opener, taking a 12-2 victory Thursday, and followed that up with a 3-2 triumph Friday night. The pitching matchup for the third game of the series Saturday afternoon saw Lance McCullers Jr. pitch for Houston against Boston’s Drew Pomeranz. First pitch in the game was set for 1:05 pm ET.
Houston Astros Ready for Postseason Run
Houston took the first two games of this series, which could serve as a good precursor for the playoffs: if Boston wins the AL East, these two teams will be right back at it next week. The Astros entered Saturday one game behind the Indians with two to play for the AL’s top record. Alex Bregman (run, three RBI) had three of Houston’s six hits in the game, including a two-run homer, his 19th of the year, that gave Houston a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning. Charlie Morton (14-7) picked up the win after allowing two runs on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts over 5.1 innings. Ken Giles pitched the ninth and picked up his 34th save.
Collin McHugh takes the mound for his 12th start of the season for the Astros. He missed the first three months of the season with an elbow impingement: he is 4-2 with a 3.45 ERA, a 1.326 WHIP, 19 walks and 54 strikeouts over 57.1 innings of work. McHugh picked up the win in his last start, which came Monday on the road against the Rangers. He threw five innings, allowing two runs on seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts in an 11-2 Houston victory. McHugh is 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA, a 1.62 WHIP, five walks and 12 strikeouts over 13 innings in his last three starts. He makes his sixth career start against the Red Sox in this contest: he is 2-2 with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.871 WHIP over 28.1 innings of work. McHugh is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.962 WHIP over 17.1 innings in his three career starts at Fenway Park.
Boston Red Sox Still Looking to Lock Down AL East
Boston lost for the fourth time in five games and missed another chance to lock up the AL East title. The Red Sox had a magic number of one entering Saturday but you actually have to click that one off in order to secure the division. Boston had just five hits Friday night with no player recording more than one. Rafael Devers and Dustin Pedroia each drove in a run for the Red Sox in the loss. Hanley Ramirez doubled in the ninth but Boston couldn’t push across the tying run. Doug Fister (5-9) took the loss as he allowed three runs on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts over 5.1 innings.
Chris Sale takes the mound for his 33rd start of the season for the Red Sox here. He is 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP, 43 walks and a league leading 308 strikeouts over 214.1 innings of work this season. Sale took the loss in his last start, which came Tuesday at home against the Blue Jays. He threw five innings, allowing five runs on eight hits with two walks and eight strikeouts in an eventual 9-4 Red Sox loss. Sale is 1-1 with a 4.34 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP, five walks and 30 strikeouts over 18.2 innings in his last three starts. This is his seventh career start against the Astros. Sale is 5-1 with a 1.31 ERA and a 0.708 WHIP over 48 innings of work. Sale is 8-4 with one save, a 3.25 ERA and a 1.021 WHIP over 110.2 innings of work in 19 appearances, 16 starts, at Fenway Park.
- No Key Trends
- Red Sox are 5-1 in their last 6 games vs. a starter with a WHIP greater than 1.30
- Red Sox are 9-3 in their last 12 games vs. a right-handed starter
Take note that a lot can change here depending on how things unfold. Sale may only pitch a couple of innings or not at all depending on Saturday’s action. McHugh likely starts anyway to keep him sharp for the postseason, though he’d be slotted as a back of the rotation guy or in the bullpen. It boils down to this really: Boston needs some momentum for the postseason after falling flat on their faces over the last week of the regular season. Playing at home, the Red Sox prevail to close the regular season on a positive note.
Pick: Boston Red Sox
There are some questions that remain to be answered on the final day of the regular season for both teams. For Houston, there still are questions in their rotation. Justin Verlander seems to be the #1 guy in the rotation with Dallas Keuchel, if he’s healthy, at #2. Where does that leave the rest of the group, like McCullers Jr., Mike Fiers, Morton and McHugh? Who is the odd man or odd men out? For Boston, is this rough stretch over the last week of the season an aberration or is it a concerning trend manifesting itself at the exact wrong time?
The over is 5-1 in the Astros last 6 overall, 5-1 in their last six on grass, 5-1 in their last six against a lefty starter, 4-1 in their last five on the road, 4-1 in their last five on the road against a lefty starter and 27-8-2 in their last 37 games on Sunday. Boston has seen the over go 4-1 in their last five overall, 4-1 in their last five on grass and 4-1 in their last five at home. With Boston’s shaky pitching of late plus Houston likely using a lot of bullpen arms, this one goes over the total.