American League Championship Series Preview
With each team winning north of 100 games, the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox have been the two of the best teams in baseball all season long. On Saturday night, Oct. 13, at 8:09 p.m., they will face off in the first of a best in seven series to determine who represents the American League in the World Series.
The Red Sox and Astros won a combined 211 games this season, the second-most combined wins in a series in the history of baseball (only the 1998 World Series between the Yankees and Padres, with 212, has more). Additionally, these two teams outscored their opponents by 492 combined runs during the regular season, and 28 in the ALDS.
This series will be a battle of each team’s strengths. The Red Sox were top in baseball in runs scored per game at 5.44, while Houston allowed the fewest (3.09).
Houston’s star-studded pitching staff, featuring three All-Stars (Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton), also gave up the fewest hits per nine innings this season.
Conversely, the Red Sox led all of baseball in hits per game ... by a long shot.
Both the Red Sox and Astros rank in the top five in fewest strikeouts per game on the offensive side, while also ranking in the top five for strikeouts per nine innings on the pitching side.
So far this postseason, teams leading after seven innings are a staggering 16-0. Whoever gets ahead, will more than likely stay ahead.
To get things started, each team will start their ace in Game 1, with Chris Sale for the Red Sox and Justin Verlander for the Astros taking the mound.
Beyond that, the Red Sox seem to have more questions than the Astros. David Price, who was unable to get through even 2 innings in his lone start in the ALDS, is 0-9 with a 6.04 era, which is the third highest in baseball history among pitchers with at least 10 starts.
Even more worrisome, Astros hitters Jose Altuve, Alex Bregmen, Yuli Gurriel and Brian McCann have a combined .342 batting average against Price. Rick Porcello, Boston’s starter in either Game 3 or 4 on the road in Houston, has a career postseason ERA of 4.75.
Boston’s home record was the best in baseball this year, at an impressive 57-24. But the Astros have the sixth best road record in the last 111 years.
Many would say that in the postseason, pitching wins games, series and championships. However, three of the last five World Series champions had a team ERA outside of the top 10 during the regular season.
Postseason baseball’s most predictable element is its unpredictability.
TBS will televise the ALCS which starts Saturday, Oct. 13, at 8:09 p.m. in Boston.