It’s the start of the American League Championship Series when a pair of teams do battle in the Lone Star State. The Boston Red Sox are on the road as they travel to face the Houston Astros in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series Friday night. Boston comes in after dropping Tampa Bay three games to one in the AL Division series, capped by a 6-5 home win on Monday night. Houston advanced to the AL Championship Series by dropping the White Sox three games to one, including a 10-1 romp on the road in Game 4 Tuesday. The Astros won five of the seven meetings in the regular season, including two of three on the road in the most recent series June 8-10.
Boston Red Sox Looking to Continue Magical RunBoston finished the regular season 92-70, eight games behind the Rays in the AL East race. The Red Sox had to beat the Yankees in the AL wild-card game just to get to the AL Division Series. After dropping the opener of the set, Boston won three straight against Tampa Bay to take the series and advance. On Monday, Boston got three hits from Rafael Devers (run, three RBI) while J.D. Martinez (RBI) and Christian Vazquez (run) each added two. Devers hit his second homer of the postseason in the win while Enrique Hernandez knocked in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth for the walk-off win. Eduardo Rodriguez threw five innings, allowing two runs on three hits with no walks and six strikeouts, but didn’t factor in the decision. Garrett Whitlock (1-0) threw two scoreless frames, allowing no hits with no walks or strikeouts, to earn the win in relief.
Right on Hereford, left on Boylston, straight to center 💪 pic.twitter.com/B8Ot4DWwKC— Red Sox (@RedSox) October 12, 2021
Chris Sale is expected to take the ball for his second postseason start after making nine regular-season starts following his return after Tommy John surgery. He was 5-1 with a 3.16 ERA, a 1.336 WHIP, 12 walks and 52 strikeouts over 42.2 innings of work in the regular season. Sale was roughed up but escaped with a no-decision in his last start, which came in Game 2 of the AL Division Series against Tampa Bay on the road last Friday. He lasted just one inning, allowing five runs on four hits with one walk and two strikeouts in a game the Red Sox came back to win 14-6. On the road this season, Sale was 0-1 with a 4.61 ERA, a 1.463 WHIP, six walks and 16 strikeouts over 13.2 innings in three starts. Sale makes his 10th career start against the Astros in this contest. He comes in 5-3 with a 2.20 ERA, a 0.842 WHIP, 13 walks and 86 strikeouts over 65.1 innings of work. Sale is 1-3 with a 3.33 ERA, a 0.963 WHIP, five walks and 34 strikeouts over 27 innings in four career starts at Minute Maid Park. In the postseason, Sale is 1-2 with a 7.27 ERA, a 1.462 WHIP, 10 walks and 38 strikeouts over 26 innings in eight career appearances, five starts.
Houston Astros Try to Maintain Home Field AdvantageHouston won their final two games the regular season against Oakland though they were just 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Astros finished the regular season with a 95-67 record, giving them the AL West crown by five games over the Mariners. Houston won the first two games at home against the White Sox, lost Game 3 and then put the series away with an emphatic Game 4 win. On Tuesday, Jose Altuve (four runs, three RBI) and Michael Brantley (two RBI) each had three hits to pace a 14-hit attack. Altuve hit his first homer of the postseason in the victory. Lance McCullers Jr. didn’t factor in the decision as he threw four innings, allowing one run on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Yimi Garcia (1-1) earned the win with a scoreless inning: he allowed no hits or walks while striking out one.
Framber Valdez is slated to toe the slab for his second postseason start in this contest after making 22 regular-season starts for the Astros. He comes in 11-6 with a 3.14 ERA, a 1.248 WHIP, 58 walks and 125 strikeouts over 134.2 innings of work this season. Valdez didn’t factor in the decision in his last start, which came last Friday at home against the White Sox in Game 2 of the AL Division Series. He threw 4.1 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with one walk and six strikeouts in an eventual 9-4 Houston victory. At home this season, Valdez is 5-2 with a 3.45 ERA, a 1.372 WHIP, 34 walks and 68 strikeouts over 62.2 innings in 11 starts. Valdez makes his fifth career appearance and third start against the Red Sox in this contest. He comes in 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA, a 0.941 WHIP, three walks and 19 strikeouts over 17 innings of work. Valdez is 13-5 with a 3.45 ERA, a 1.286 WHIP, 78 walks and 170 strikeouts over 156.1 innings in 34 career appearances, 24 starts, at Minute Maid Park. In the postseason, Valdez is 3-1 with a 2.86 ERA, a 1.129 WHIP, 11 walks and 32 strikeouts over 28.1 innings in five career appearances, four starts.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This one is going to be interesting as Houston had success against Boston in the regular season but the stakes are higher here. The Astros are in the AL Championship Series for the fifth straight year so they have plenty of experience in this stage. Alex Cora has said that it’s going to be all hands on deck from a pitching standpoint so you could see anyone and everyone on the mound at any point in this series. Sale has sputtered a bit in his last couple of outings though we know he can shut teams down and Boston has some momentum on their side. Valdez struggled down the stretch in the regular season and he was battered around in his first postseason start. Boston can take advantage of young pitchers and that works in their favor. Look for the Red Sox to steal one on the road as they ride their October momentum.
Full-Game Total Pick
Sale has seen the over hit in six of his last 10 starts entering this one, including his lone postseason outing. In that span, he’s seen an average total of 12.7 runs per game with the Red Sox scoring at least six runs in eight of those 10 starts. Valdez was roughed up by the White Sox as he didn’t make it through the fifth inning in his first postseason outing. The over has hit in five of his last six starts, with an average total of 11.17 runs per game in that stretch. In the regular season, Houston was first in the majors with 5.39 runs per game while Boston was fourth with 5.16 runs per contest. This one ends up going over the total.