Posted on October 8, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Boston Red Sox come home on Sunday facing from the ALDS. With a pair of 8-2 wins in Houston, the Astros are in complete control of the series and are no doubt hoping to close out the series as soon as possible. The Red Sox have been outplayed during the first two games in almost every conceivable way, so they definitely have their work cut out for them.
In both games of this series, the Astros scored two runs in the first inning to take an early lead. That has gotten the Houston crowd behind the home team and made it more difficult for the Red Sox to come from behind. Upon coming home in Game 3, the Red Sox need to do the same thing to the Astros. Boston doesn’t have the power in its lineup that Houston does, so it’s already hard for them to score runs in a hurry, so it’s critical that they don’t have to play catch-up at home. If the Astros score 1st inning runs in Game 3, the series could be over.
In an interesting move, the Astros have Brad Peacock lined up to start Game 3 over Lance McCullers Jr. and Collin McHugh. Peacock had an outstanding season, although he was bounced back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation based on the team’s needs. He was better out of the bullpen, but in 21 starts, he was 10-2 with a 3.22 ERA. His final start of the season came last week in Boston, as he allowed two runs over five innings and got the win. The Astros will gladly take a similar result on Sunday.
The Red Sox have also made an interesting decision by starting Doug Fister in Game 3 over Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez. Fister didn’t even make his first start of the season until June and showed inconsistency down the stretch, posting a 5.58 ERA in his six September starts. However, Fister does have postseason experience. In nine playoff appearances, Foster is 4-2 with a 2.60 ERA. In his last postseason start, coming as a member of the Nationals in 2014, Fister tossed seven shutout innings. However, last week against the Astros he took the loss after allowing three runs over 5.1 innings.
Boston’s X-factor in game 3 could be its speed. The Red Sox don’t have the pure power hitters that Houston does, but they do have better athletes and better team speed, so they need to utilize it as much as possible. Every chance they get, the Red Sox need to be running in an effort to put more pressure on Houston’s pitchers and defense. Of course, that means getting players on base, which has been a little bit of a struggle through two games. But once the Red Sox get runners on base, they need to be active and make things happen in order to give Boston an edge.
It’s difficult to envision Fister as the pitcher who can slow down Houston’s high-flying offense. Look for Carlos Beltran to get the start at DH, as he’s 5 for 13 with a home run against Fister in his career. Jose Altuve also has good career numbers against him, and several other Astros have had success in a small sample. Over two games, the Red Sox have shown few signs of climbing out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves. Houston wraps up the series with another 8-2 win.