Yesterday was about as close as you are ever going to get to getting free money in the MLB playoffs. We took the over eight and a half runs in the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox game, and there was very little doubt in my mind we would have a slugfest. Rick Porcello was getting bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen for Boston, and he was pitching on three days rest and a broken routine. And the Astros Charlie Morton hadn’t pitched a full start in over a month with shoulder tightness, and I thought that throwing him right into a heated must-win game four was a lot to ask.
Throw in the fact that these were two of the best lineups in the game this season and each of the first three games of the series over sailed over the run total, and I was pretty confident in my bet. And these teams didn’t even make us sweat it as the runs came early and often. We had this line covered by the fifth inning and when it was all said and done runs were scored in every inning but the ninth. In total fourteen runs were put on the board.
The win couldn’t have been bigger for Boston as they now have taken complete control of the series and have won three straight games, the last two of those coming on the road in Houston. The Astros will have their backs against the wall tonight in game five at home as it is win or go home or stay home in this instance for Houston. The Red Sox need to just win one of the last three games of the series, the final two of which will be in Boston, to advance to the World Series.
Starting for the Astros today is Justin Verlander (16-9 2.52 ERA), and for the Red Sox, it is David Price (16-7 3.58 ERA). The Astros are major -182 home favorites. The game total over-under is set at eight runs. First pitch is scheduled for 5:09 PM PST from Minute Maid Park in Houston.
With no room for error, the Houston Astros will turn to their best arm in game five, Justin Verlander. Verlander was the hero last season in the playoffs for Houston as they won the World Series title and the Astros will call on him tonight to keep their dreams of repeating alive. Verlander has been solid but not spectacular in the postseason this year as he is 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in two starts and has been the recipient of a lot of run support.
He started game one of this series and picked up the win, throwing six innings of two-run ball while allowing just two hits. His issue in that game was his command as he uncharacteristically walked four batters in the game. He was pulled after throwing just 90 pitches. We know Verlander is capable of throwing a lot more pitches than that and in his game, I expect the Astros to ride him until his arm falls off as there is no tomorrow if they don’t win.
I was shocked that Boston decided to use David Price in this series at all. After how poorly he has pitched historically in the playoffs, I thought that Boston would find a way to send Price to the bullpen and utilize other arms. He showed in the ALDS that he has yet to exercise his playoff demons as he ran his career playoff record to 0-9 after getting pounded by New York for three runs in just an inning and a third of work.
Then Boston decided to give him another shot, in this series against Houston, in game two, and once again he got pummeled. Now in that one, the Red Sox managed to win a slugfest but Price in the playoffs is a huge gamble. In game two Price threw four and two-thirds of an inning and allowed four runs but it could have been even worse as he left the game with multiple runners on base.
What is Boston thinking in this game? Maybe they would rather clinch the AL pennant at home in Boston and feel that they will be able to get the job done in two chances in games six and seven? I know that Chris Sale is sick and resting him up for the deciding games at home makes sense, but to throw Price out their basically throws up the white flag of surrender in this one. Maybe they realized that a pissed off and fired up Justin Verlander at home is going to be impossible to beat anyway and that is why they are feeding Price to the wolves.
Whatever the case may be, I think the Astros dominate this game. They haven’t had trouble scoring runs most of the series, and with Price on the mound, I expect them to hit him hard. And Verlander? I’m guessing we will still see him in the game in the seventh inning or later as the guy is almost always good when his team needs him to be. This all adds up to me thinking this game is going to be a blowout.
Blowouts rarely happen in the postseason as runs are hard to come by, but in this series that hasn’t really been the case as all four games have gone over the game total and every game has been decided by multiple runs. So, I will take a shot on a big payout and back the Astros laying a run and a half on the run line in this one, in game that they just can’t lose. Give me the Houston Astros on the run line tonight at home in game five at +105!