The Houston Astros are in Boston for the final series of the regular season against the Red Sox. Tonight marks game one of a four-game series that will decide which team is the top seed in the American League playoffs. Entering play today the Astros are just one game back of the Cleveland Indians for that top spot. If the Astros fail to catch the Indians this series will be a preview of the first-round divisional series, featuring the Astros and Red Sox. Not many games on the slate mean anything today, but this one absolutely does. The Red Sox will start Eduardo Rodriguez (6-6 3.91 ERA) in game one, and the Astros will counter with Brad Peacock (12-2 2.98 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Fenway Park in Boston.
Houston Astros -110 at Boston Red Sox -110
Brad Peacock (12-2 2.98 ERA) vs Eduardo Rodriguez (6-6 3.91 ERA)
The Houston Astros aren’t getting a lot of media attention down the stretch. All the talking heads want to talk about is the Indians and their long win streak. But guess what? This Houston Astros team is hanging right with them and flying under the radar. I worry that the Indians peaked a little early this season and wasted a lot of emotional and physical energy chasing history with that crazy win streak. You can’t say that about these Astros.
The Astros spent most of the first half of the season as baseball’s best team. Then the injuries began to pile up and take their toll, and the Astros came down to earth a bit. But now the team is healthy and clicking on all cylinders and they are poised to snatch away that top seed from Cleveland. The schedule lays out much better for the Indians as they play the hapless Chicago White Sox in their last series of the year, but the lead is only one game, so anybody could take it at this point.
The Astros have spent the month of September red-hot and have used this run to end pretty much the rest of the American League West Divisions playoff hopes. Coming into the regular season’s last month, the Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, and the Texas Rangers all had legit shots to capture one of the American League wild-card slots. Well, the Astros put an end to all that talk as they ransacked through the division this month. The Astros went 13-2 against those three teams and effectively ended all of their postseason dreams. The Minnesota Twins owe the Astros a beer after the season for clearing their path to that second wild-card spot.
To get the series started off right, the Astros will turn to a guy that has been a very pleasant addition to their rotation, Brad Peacock. Peacock started the season in the Astros bullpen and has only been starting games since June. That being said, Peacock has been fantastic in that role and what started out as an injury replacement has now become a fixture in the starting rotation for Houston. Peacock isn’t going super deep into games, but he has been very effective. His 10-2 record as a starter proves that he is giving his team a chance to win every time out. Peacock has won 8 out of his last 9 decisions.
The Boston Red Sox still have a little bit of work to do this season as well as they could technically still lose the American League East Division title to the New York Yankees. The Sox own a three-game lead over the Bronx Bombers with just four games left to play. However unlikely it would be to see the Sox lose this big lead may seem, they still have something to play for tonight. They will send lefty Eduardo Rodriguez to the mound tonight to try and lock up the division title.
Rodriguez has had a very up and down year. He started off the season great as he rolled up a 4-1 record with an ERA under three in the season first two months. Then he struggled through the dog days of summer and got hammered in June and July to the tune of a 0-4 record and an ERA north of five. He seems to have it dialed back in at the moment though as the Red Sox look to finish out the season strong. Rodriguez is 2-1 with a 1.78 ERA in September.
This is a tight game. Both teams are good and are guaranteed a playoff spot. The question in this series is will the Red Sox clinch the division title and will the Astros take the number one seed. In a game this close I am going to lean on the slightly hotter team with the slightly better starting pitcher, the Houston Astros. Yes, the Red Sox are going to be playing hard, trying to lock down that division title, but I think that celebration can wait until tomorrow night as I see the Astros taking game one tonight. Give me the ‘stros in a hard-fought close game in game one.
Today’s Pick: Astros -110