After 3 days off from play the Boston Red Sox are back it again tonight for Game 1 of the ALCS. Best team in baseball (record wise and eye-test wise) facing off against the defending champs: the Houston Astros. Just how it should be. A trip to the Fall Classic on the line.
Many people are saying the winner of this series will win the World Series. I think that's a little extreme, they both would be the heavy favorite, but people seem to forget that anything can happen in October. Considering how squeamish and stressful the 9th inning of game 4 was against the Yankees, I know as a fan, a few days off wasn't the worst thing.
Now we're here. I'm ready. I'm fired up. Hate how I seem to have no friends who care enough to watch with me, but that's okay. Fuck them and fuck the Astros. What a match-up on the mound. Chris Sale vs. Justin Verlander. A pitching match-up I was lucky to see last summer before Verlander was traded to the Astros.
Last year Verlander showed his 2011 form and a was a vital part of the Astros' World Series run. He was 2017 ALCS MVP against the Yankees. 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA.
The 2011 American League Cy Young winner and league MVP had another Cy Young quality year for the Stros in 2018. 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA, a league leading 290 strikeouts, league leading whip of 0.902. Verlander's 2018 was a JV Jacob deGroom season in the sense of hard-luck losing. 9 losses despite an ERA that was good for 3rd in the American League.
Verlander pitched incredibly well in his postseason start against the Indians. He had a no-hitter through five innings but was pulled after allowing two hits and a walk, receiving the quick hook that has been a theme this postseason. JV did pick up the win in 5.1 innings of work allowing 2 runs and 2 hits.
Here's the Red Sox line-up Verlander will face
The man he's opposing in Game 1, Chris Sale went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA and 237 strike outs in a shortened season. Only 27 starts for Sale. He didn't qualify for league leaders in ERA due to his innings. But when healthy it looked like the Cy Young was his to lose this year. Now it'll go to Blake Snell likely. He can enjoy that as he watches the playoffs at home. Sale had virtually the same performance as Verlander his postseason start (game 1 vs NYY) 5.1 innings, 2 hits, 2 runs (one more strikeout [8 to 7]) picking up the win.
Last year against the Astros in the playoff Sale got rocked in game one, and was pretty solid in relief in game 4...until Alex Bregman happened.
Bregman homer twice against Sale in the playoffs last year. It felt like everybody on the Astros batted over. 500 in the short ALDS last year. Last year the Sox looked like they didn't even belong on the same field as the Astros, they were playing a different game. That was last year, this season the Red Sox are 15 games better, and have a competent manager.
I think just like last series, if the Red Sox want to move on they have to win tonight. The pressure is on Sale to be Sale, while the offense is going against arguably the best right handed pitcher of this generation. Mookie Betts needs to start playing like the MVP he is. 3 hits and 2 RBI in the ALDS. It felt like he did even less. The Red Sox are going to need him to take over games in this series to have a chance.
The Astros are better than they were last year on the mound, but offensively nearly every major player from last year, with the exception of Bregman had a worse 2018 than 2017. Carlos Correa battled injuries and only appeared in 110 games, batting just .239. He's a stud and could show the player he has been in the past this series, but up to this point (including the playoffs) he's been a major disappointment. The Red Sox have the advantage offensively, but I think the pitching (starting and relief) goes to Houston.
With David Price pitching tomorrow, this feels like a must win for the Sox.
The Astros starting rotation is gonna go Verlander, Cole, Kuechel. We'll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow but simply put, in a very elementary take, with Chris Sale pitching, the Red Sox have to win those games to have a chance in this series. The Astros are the favorite, and if you are a stat nerd who lives and dies with numbers and forgets about the human element you would say the Astros are the better team. They may be, but the Tigers were a better team in the 2013 ALCS, and you could argue the Cardinals were a better team in the World Series, but it was the Red Sox who won it all.
And in that 2013 ALCS the Red Sox beat Justin Verlander (at home) 1-0. S/o Nap. I know only Xander is left from that team (from dudes who play offensively) but it can be done again!!!
Alex Cora to me is the X factor for the Red Sox, as the bench coach of the Astros last year he knows this team inside and out. Other than Cole and that woman beater they got from the Blue Jays, he knows everything about this roster, and how to put them in situations that favor the Red Sox.
Idk how the series goes, but I think the Red Sox win tonight. For my sanity and sleep, I hope they do. I'll write more after the game, and before game 2 tomorrow. I love that Brock is getting the game 1 start. Maybe he hits another cycle?? Probz not but I'll take a couple hits. I think the Sox win 6-4. Little higher scoring than you'd think with these guys on the mound, but I'm expecting both of these line ups to shine this series.
Check out A-Rod paying off his bet with Big Papi. What a sight! One we nearly got in 2004 (thank God we didn't). Although, my dude does look great in red.
LET'S GO RED-SOX. LET'S GO RED-SOX.