Astros start Verlander in ALDS opener

Jon Gray's first inning in the Wild Card game nearly goes as poorly as Luis Severino's

Jon Gray's first inning in the Wild Card game nearly goes as poorly as Luis Severino's

If Chris Sale could secure for the Red Sox a pivotal opening victory, it would inoculate this young team with the confidence that they need to go on a serious postseason run.

Boston has had its struggles as of late, but don't be fooled.

Team USA looks to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. And their pitching matches up very well with Houston, especially in a shorter series. Both pitching staffs have a number of well-known stars, and this isn't a case where the Q scores exceed the on-the-field production by any means. Farrell's other choices for the team's third starter include 2016 Cy Young victor Rick Porcello and veteran Doug Fister.

Unfortunately, left-handed starters are exactly what Boston has in abundance.

This five-game series could all be determined by what happens in Game 1, and what a Game 1 it should be: Justin Verlander against Chris Sale. He was the losing pitcher in Games 2 and 5 of last year's World Series against the Chicago Cubs. The guy misses bats like nobody else in the game and is sure going to get his fair share of strikeouts against a swing happy Astros clubs that swings big. Taking sort of a myopic, yet calculated, look at Boston's path in the 2017 postseason, it's evident that we should be able to get off to a strong start against the Astros - much stronger than the start that we got off to a year ago. He's 2-8 with a 5.54 in his career there. That last time out, however, he ran into a bit of trouble, giving up five runs over seven frames. After Pomeranz, the Red Sox likely will turn to Eduardo Rodriguez, but they also have Doug Fister and, far less likely, the reigning AL Cy Young victor, Rick Porcello.

Houston's baseball team winning 11 more games in the year of Hurricane Harvey.

Over his last 16 starts, Verlander, 34, went 10-3 with a 1.92 ERA.

Verlander has faced the Red Sox twice this season, going 1-1. The Astros have other options, including Charlie Morton. Sunday's Game 3 at Fenway is set to start at 2:38 p.m. also on FS1.

It's no secret how tough Houston's lineup has been all year. Mayor Sylvester Turner joined by Astros owner Jim Crane and players Derek Fisher and Joe Musgrove pumped up the crowd saying, "We are Houston proud and Houston Strong".

The Astros led the majors by a wide margin in runs (896) and batting average (.282). Jose Altuve hit.417, Marwin Gonzalez.364, Carlos Beltran.357, Yuli Gurriel.333 and Brian McCann.333 with three homers.

It will be interesting to see how Sale performs under the bright lights of the playoffs.

That game against the Astros was a sample of how Farrell will use his bullpen in the playoffs.

Houston also has momentum coming into the playoffs. To repeat: Given the uncertainty after Sale, Game 1 might be crucial if the Red Sox are to win this series. They are familiar opponents having spent multiple seasons battling each other in the American League Central Division on their respective former teams, the Tigers and White Sox. So, it's obvious they were the most dominant offensive team in the Major League Baseball. If Bogaerts can perform up to his normal standards and one of the trio of Dustin Pedroia, Andrew Benintendi or Mookie Betts can get hot, then the Sox will be in business. If they get past NY in the winner-take-all wild card, they even hold a 6-3 record in 2017 in games played at Cleveland's Progressive Field. But that's still a long ways away. Which team is best stacked to save a championship? That would make me really proud.

Recommended News

  • Start times revealed for first two games of Red Sox-Astros ALDS

    Start times revealed for first two games of Red Sox-Astros ALDS

    Rick Porcello has been pretty bad all year, while Doug Fister went from awful , to great, back to awful in a short period of time. If the Red Sox are facing elimination in Game 4 then Farrell will presumably be more open to bringing Sale back to pitch early.
    Yankees Advance To ALCS After 8-4 Wildcard Win Over Twins

    Yankees Advance To ALCS After 8-4 Wildcard Win Over Twins

    After all, a couple of his moonshots this season have visited that area of the ballpark, where Yankees greats are honored. Maybe the Yankees would still have scored eight runs, even if they had fallen behind by five.
    More misery for Crystal Palace as Christian Benteke faces injury lay-off

    More misery for Crystal Palace as Christian Benteke faces injury lay-off

    The Eagles are also undergoing a striker crisis as Christian Benteke has been ruled out for six-eight weeks. Even dealing with injuries early in the 2017-18 Premier League season, Manchester United have been rolling.
  • Astros start Verlander in ALDS opener

    Astros start Verlander in ALDS opener

    Farrell's other choices for the team's third starter include 2016 Cy Young victor Rick Porcello and veteran Doug Fister . Jose Altuve hit.417, Marwin Gonzalez.364, Carlos Beltran.357, Yuli Gurriel.333 and Brian McCann .333 with three homers.
    Start times revealed for first two games of Red Sox-Astros ALDS

    Start times revealed for first two games of Red Sox-Astros ALDS

    Rick Porcello has been pretty bad all year, while Doug Fister went from awful , to great, back to awful in a short period of time. If the Red Sox are facing elimination in Game 4 then Farrell will presumably be more open to bringing Sale back to pitch early.

    Steelers vs. Ravens: Highlights, game tracker and more

    How do they enjoy football season? CBS will be doing the TV coverage while the game can be watched online live on FuboTV . The Ravens have traditionally played the Steelers tough and the defense had looked sharp prior to the Jaguars defeat.
  • Sebastian Vettel set to avoid Suzuka gearbox penalty

    Sebastian Vettel set to avoid Suzuka gearbox penalty

    Most strategists had modelled his race and had him finishing fourth, catching Ricciardo at the end. But was Vettel's crash another "mistake"? Vettel was up to sixth by Lap 17 and pushing hard.
    Saints vs Dolphins: Game Pick - Can Saints sink Dolphins?

    Saints vs Dolphins: Game Pick - Can Saints sink Dolphins?

    It's another Sunday of Breakfast at Wimble... er, Wembley Stadium in London as the Miami Dolphins take on the New Orleans Saints . Last Sunday , the Saints scored a touchdown in the first quarter at Carolina, the first one allowed by the Panthers this season.
    Hugh Hefner's Son Honors Dad in Surprisingly Touching Tribute

    Hugh Hefner's Son Honors Dad in Surprisingly Touching Tribute

    The daughter of legendary musician Frank Sinatra described Hef as "one of the nicest men" she's ever known. She thanked the magazine titan for believing in her vision and giving her artistic freedom.
  • Yankees' advance to AL Division Series with bullpen, home runs

    Yankees' advance to AL Division Series with bullpen, home runs

    Both home runs were set up by Gardner, the leadoff man and the longest-tenured Yankee, and the team's unofficial captain. I've missed watching Twins games with her this summer a lot, especially with their unexpected return to the playoffs.
    Hundreds Injured As Police Try To Stop Catalan Independence Vote

    Hundreds Injured As Police Try To Stop Catalan Independence Vote

    Officials said 90% of voters backed independence during the referendum , with the turnout reaching 42.3%. By Sunday night, almost 2.3 million of the region's 5.3 million voters had cast ballots.
    Ways Your Taxes Might Go Up Under the GOP's Plan

    Ways Your Taxes Might Go Up Under the GOP's Plan

    Nor is it clear how Trump officials are weighing the benefits of the lower corporate taxes - which would primarily help investors. But even those proposed changes were left vague - and wouldn't remotely pay the full cost of the tax cut.

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.