Posted on October 6, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine

Houston Astros Dallas Keuchel

Image via espn.com

The ALDS began with a bang, at least for the Houston Astros, who triumphed over the Boston Red Sox 8-2 in Game 1. Batting champion Jose Altuve stole the show with three home runs, including two against Chris Sale. That has put Houston in a good position to take a commanding series lead if the Astros can keep it going in Friday’s Game 2.

Injury Woes

In the first inning of Game 1, the Red Sox lost Eduardo Nunez, as he re-aggravated the knee injury that kept him out down the stretch. It doesn’t appear that he’ll be back anytime soon, altering Boston’s plans for the series and taking away the team’s most versatile player. On top of that, Dustin Pedroia didn’t appear to be running well, getting thrown out while trying to go from first to third. But with Nunez hurt, the Red Sox will have to live with Pedroia at second base and either Hanley Ramirez or Chris Young in the DH spot.

Pitching Matchup

It’ll be up to Drew Pomeranz to swing the momentum back in Boston’s favor. Despite concerns about his health leading up to the season, the lefty was both durable and effective this year. Pomeranz managed to make 32 starts, going 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA. However, a pair of relief appearances last year is all the postseason experience he has, so Game 2 will be the first time he starts a game in the playoffs. After the way the Astros lit up Sale on Thursday, Houston probably won’t mind seeing another lefty on Friday. The silver lining is that Pomeranz handled Houston’s lineup twice this season, including last Saturday in Boston’s clinching game. Over 12.1 innings against the Astros this year, Pomeranz allowed just two runs.

Meanwhile, the Astros will send former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel to the mound in Game 2. Keuchel had some ups and downs this year, not to mention a couple stints on the DL with neck discomfort. But he closed out the season with a strong September and appears to be back at full health. More importantly, Keuchel was a reliable pitcher in the postseason two years ago, going 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA. The Astros should feel quite comfortable with him taking the ball on Friday.

X-Factor

If the Red Sox are going to get back in this series, they’ll need everyone in the lineup to contribute, so look out for rookie Rafael Devers as a possible X-factor. Devers drove in a run in Game 1 and now that Nunez is hurt again, there’s little doubt he’ll be starting Game 2, even against a lefty. Devers has never faced Keuchel before, but he put up impressive numbers against lefties during his brief time in the big leagues, collecting 20 hits in 50 at-bats (.400). He could be someone to watch in Game 2 and could provide the Red Sox with the spark they need.

Prediction

The Red Sox need to win Game 2, but the Astros have all the momentum, especially on offense, and that’ll be hard to slow down. Pomeranz had a great year, but once Houston starts teeing off, it’s hard to make it stop. Altuve and Carlos Correa are a combined 10 for 22 against Pomeranz in their career. Look for those two to become the catalysts for another impressive offensive performance by the Astros. Houston wins 9-6.

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