Boston Red Sox: Series showdown vs. Houston Astros

The Boston Red Sox welcome their 2018 ALCS opponent, the Houston Astros to Fenway Park on Friday night for a three-game, weekend series.

The Boston Red Sox last met the Astros on October 18. 2018 in game five of the American League Championship Series.

A night in Houston that led to Boston’s ninth franchise World Series title. The Sox and Rick Porcello will welcome the Astros to Fenway Park for a three-game series starting Friday night.

Boston enters this ALCS rematch series following a two-game split series of inter-league play against the Colorado Rockies. One in which Chris Sale took a split decision despite reaching a career high in strike-outs (17) while allowing just two runs in the most dominant outing on the mound we’ve seen from Sale yet this season.

That extra innings loss followed with an extra innings win with the rookie, Michael Chavis continuing to show out with every opportunity he gets to come through for this ball club.

In the 11th inning with Xander Bogaerts on second, Chavis came through huge with his first career walk-off and Boston’s second of the season.

Now come the American League West leading Houston Astros to town, entering the series 14 games above .500 with a 29-15 record thus far. Houston enters Friday night tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the most wins in baseball thus far.

With the Boston Red Sox sitting 4.0 games back of Tampa Bay for the division lead, this series comes as Boston’s most challenging for the still young season so far.

The pitching match-ups are expected as so.

Pitching Probables:

Game 1- Friday May 17, 7:10 p.m. E.T.

  • RHP Rick Porcello (3-3, 5.15 ERA, 40 SO) versus RHP Gerrit Cole (4-4, 3.88 ERA, 86 SO)

Porcello’s Search For Stride:

Like the vast majority of the Red Sox pitching staff, Rick Porcello is looking to dig himself out of a slow start to the season. In his first six starts between April and March, Porcello posted a 2-3 record with an ERA of 5.52 in 31.0 innings pitched.

Porcello has slowly progressed to turning that around, going 1-0 in his last 12.2 innings pitched for the month of May. Through that stretch Porcello’s allowed three runs off 10 hits while striking out 12 batters.

In his last outing against Seattle, Porcello got off to an ugly start in which he allowed four runs to cross in the first inning. However he quickly flipped the script and went on to pitch 5.2 hit-less innings right after in a 9-5 Red Sox win. Hopefully Porcello doesn’t find himself in a similar position to set the tone in the series opener.

Game 2- Saturday May 18, 7:15 p.m. E.T.

Our Tampa Bay-esque Start:

Not much to say regarding Hector Velazquez. With Boston struggling early season to establish their pitching rotation, following a struggling open to the season, Velazquez was called upon to fill a void. With said call, comes Velazquez playing the infamous role which takes a page right out of the Tampa Bay Rays book in pitching. Extract an arm for your bullpen and get the arms ready early for a short-term expected outing.

However, despite Velazquez’ role which doesn’t include high expectations in regards to innings depth, Velazquez is coming off a 5.0 inning. two-run outing against the Mariners on Mother’s Day. Expect Alex Cora to have the arms ready and throwing early in game two.

Game 3- Sunday May 19, 1:05 p.m. E.T.

  • LHP Chris Sale (1-5, 4.24 ERA, 73 SO) versus RHP Brad Peacock (4-2, 4.01 ERA, 41 SO)

Chris Sale’s Resurrection:

It’s no secret that Chris Sale got off to a rough, disappointing start to kick-off the first month and a half of 2019 Boston Red Sox baseball. In six starts from April to March, Sale went 0-5 with a  6.30 ERA, allowing 32 hits, and seven home runs through 30.0 innings pitched. He allowed 21 earned runs through that stretch. However it would appear as so Sale is beginning to slowly find his stride, getting right back in the usually dominant lefty form we’re accustomed to seeing on the mound.

Next: Boston Red Sox have fully awakened from their slumber

In three starts for the month of May, Sale has improved, allowing just one home run and three earned runs in his last three starts. Despite earning just one win in his last three starts, don’t let the record mislead you. Chris Sale’s ERA for the month of May sits at 1.29 and in just 21.0 innings pitched for the month, he’s already collected 41 k’s, increasing his strikeouts per nine innings pitched from 9.6 in April/March to 17.6 in May.

Sale’s biggest challenge will come against the hottest team in the American League.

The Astros offense leads all of baseball in batting average (.282), runs (245), and hits (423). The Boston Red Sox however have managed to build their own offensive momentum, scoring 8.8 runs through their last five games. Let’s see how Boston answers to the challenge.