The Astros won the World Series in 2017 and the Red Sox did the same in 2018. Then, of course, both the Astros and Red Sox were caught and punished (to some extent) for signal theft scandals.
And here they are in 2021, fighting again for a spot in the World Series.
That will be a talking point during the first few games of the ALCS, but it will have very little impact, okay, zero impact, in the actual games.
MORE: How Red Sox manager Alex Cora was involved in the Astros cheating scandal
Red Sox odds vs. Astros for the American League Championship Series
(Odds courtesy of FanDuel sports betting)
Spread: Astros -1.5
Money line: Astros -152, Red Sox +128
The Astros went 5-2 against the Red Sox this season. Both series ended in June. Houston went 3-1 at home and 2-1 at Fenway Park in Boston. The Astros, as the NL West champions, have home-field advantage in this series over the Red Sox, who are wild cards.
Red Sox vs. Astros all-time series
Boston holds a historic 34-29 lead over Houston in regular season play. Houston played in the National League until the 2013 season. The Boson franchise has been in the American League since 1901.
The Red Sox and Astros have met twice in the postseason, though never in the World Series before Houston’s trade to the American League. In 2017, the 101-win Astros defeated the 93-win Red Sox in the ALDS, 3-1. In 2018, the Red Sox with 108 wins outscored the Astros with 103 wins in the American League Championship Series, 4-1.
MORE: MLB playoff schedule, schedules, TV channels
Three things to look at
How do the Astros make up for the absence of Lance McCullers?
As of Friday morning, there is no official information on his status, but even if he is on the list, he would be limited. McCullers is certainly important. He was the best starter of the regular season and allowed just one run in 10 2/3 innings against the White Sox in the ALDS. So yeah, if it’s out or limited, it seems like a problem. But the Astros have pitching options. Future Hall of Famer Zack Greinke could start or veteran Jake Odorizzi could step in. Neither is McCullers, but anyone could give Houston five or six solid innings with enough run prevention for the Astros offense to take care of the rest. . It’s probably worth noting that McCullers didn’t start any of the seven games against Boston.
How will the Red Sox use Tanner Houck?
Houck, a rookie right-hander, saved Boston’s season in the ALDS. It could have been overshadowed by the rush of runs his teammates scored in the last three games against the Rays. Tampa Bay won the first game and scored five runs in the first inning of Game 2. The series looked set to be a disaster for the Red Sox. Enter Houck, who shut down the Rays with just two hits and one run in five innings, allowing his team to catch their collective breath and mount a comeback. Will Houck start? Will he stay in that wheelie role if a starter misses?
How are the Red Sox getting closer to the Houston hitters?
The Astros led the majors in runs scored this year, then averaged nearly eight runs per game in the ALDS against a White Sox team that allowed the fewest runs of any American League team. Boston pitchers, on the other hand, allowed more runs than any other playoff team, and they weren’t even close (77 more than the Cardinals and 113 more than the White Sox). How deep is the alignment? Carlos Correa, the All-Star shortstop set to land a massive free agent contract this offseason, batted sixth in Houston’s lineup in the first two ALDS games.
MORE: White Sox manager Tony La Russa says Astros have “character shortage”
Statistics that matter
6.00 and .300. That’s the Boston team’s seven-game ERA against the Astros this season and the Houston team’s batting average against Red Sox pitchers this year. In those seven games, Houston hitters hit nine home runs and scored 42 times, posting a .386 on-base percentage and an .884 OPS. That’s basically Freddie Freeman’s 2021 season (he was .393 and .896).
Prediction of the Red Sox against the Astros
Without a doubt, these Red Sox gave off strong “team of destiny” vibes at the ALDS, coming back from a game behind and trailing 5-2 after the first inning of Game 2 to beat the 100-win Rays. But can they maintain that magic against an Astros team that has a relentless lineup, full of boppers and “pro” hitters? It’s hard to see the Red Sox pitching through the long best-of-seven routine.
Prediction: Astros at 6.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.