The Houston Astros wrapped up their dominant 2017 season by claiming three wins in a four-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park last weekend.
Their next opponent? Those same Red Sox, who travel to Houston to begin the best-of-five American League Division Series on Thursday.
The series win was surely a good sign for the Astros, who have rounded back into mid-season form after a slow start to the second half. But don’t read too much into their emphatic victory at Fenway—you can believe that both teams will be significantly more motivated now that the post-season is officially underway.
The ‘Stros have yet to formally announce a starter for Thursday’s inaugural playoff bout, but are expected to place prized trade acquisition Justin Verlander on the bump to trade darts with Chris Sale of the Red Sox.
Verlander compiled another vintage season, pitching to a 15-8 record and a 3.36 ERA. He’s made 16 career playoff starts and has generally fared well, with a 3.39 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 98.1 innings. For his career against the Red Sox, the Houston ace is a pedestrian 5-5—but with a stellar 2.88 ERA.
Long a member of the struggling Chicago White Sox, Sale has never pitched in the postseason. He’s coming off a year for the ages, though, having racked up 308 strikeouts in 214.1 innings en route to a 2.90 ERA and probable top-two finish in the AL Cy Young Award voting. He’s had his way with the Astros in the past—he’s made 6 starts against the ‘Stros totaling 48 innings, has struck out 65, walked just 5, and is 5-1 with a negligible 1.31 ERA.
These are two of the most dominant pitchers in modern baseball history—it should be a game to remember. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 Central.
Altuve Atop The League—Again
Jose Altuve wrapped up his 2017 campaign with a .346 batting average—tops in the American League for the third time in four years. This season was his fourth consecutive time cracking the elite 200-hits club, and he tied a career high in home runs with 24. It’s safe to expect a strong showing in the AL MVP balloting later this year.