For the third time in five seasons, the Major League Baseball playoffs will feature a matchup between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros. Each team has taken one of the first two matchups en route to World Series titles.
The first of the two meetings was the 2017 ALDS that saw the Astros advance in four games to face the New York Yankees in the ALCS. Houston was able to advance to the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers after a hard-fought seven game series. They went on to win their first World Series title in franchise history.
The second of the two meetings was the 2018 ALCS that saw the Boston Red Sox take four out of five games to advance to the World Series. It was a year where it felt like no one could touch the Red Sox, who ran away with the American League before defeating the Dodgers in five games to capture the title.
A lot has changed for these franchises since their last postseason meeting. Both teams dealt with the fallout of the sign stealing scandal that was centered around the 2017 Houston Astros.
However, with that in the rearview mirror, the teams will look to create another memorable series starting Friday in Houston.
Many people counted the Red Sox out in their matchup against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. Following a shutout loss in Game 1, it seemed as if Tampa would roll right over Boston, but with extra motivation from Randy Arozarena eating popcorn in the dugout late in that game, Boston was able to bounce back strongly.
Despite some pitching troubles, Boston was able to win the next three games behind strong offensive performances.
Led by Kiké Hernandez, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo, Boston put up 24 runs in the final three games. A walk-off home run by Christian Vázquez in the 13th inning of game three gave Boston the extra momentum to finish the series the following day.
For Houston it was much the same. Despite dropping one game, they featured a strong offensive attack that propelled them past the Chicago White Sox in four games. Its pitching staff was able to stop one of the youngest and most prolific lineups in the league.
As is customary with the Houston Astros, their series win did not come without drama. White Sox’s relief pitcher Ryan Tepera said he believes the Astros were stealing signs again. While the truth behind this is unknown, it will still be something to monitor going forward.
There is no doubt that these lineups can produce, which makes it important for one of these pitching staffs to produce at a higher rate. Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Sale will look to keep the Red Sox staff sharp against the heavy hitting Astros lineup that features José Altuve, Carlos Correa and Yordan Álvarez.
Houston’s staff, led by Lance McCullers Jr., slowed down a heavy-hitting Chicago lineup that featured 2020 MVP Jose Abreu. Houston struggles with starting pitching depth, but still has a strong bullpen, which should give them the edge over Boston.
Prediction: Houston Astros advance in five games
Justin Ciavolella is a first-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.