HOUSTON ASTROS (98-60)
at BOSTON RED SOX (92-66)
First pitch: Thursday, 7:10 p.m. ET
Line: Houston -105, Boston -105, Total: 9.0
The Astros and Red Sox will meet in a battle between two of the American Leagueís best teams on Thursday.
Houston has been on fire lately, as the team has now won three straight and five of its past six. The Astros most recently swept the Rangers in Arlington, and that came after a series victory over an Angels team that had absolutely everything to play for. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are coming off of a series loss against the Blue Jays. Boston is currently fighting for the top spot in the AL East with New York, so the team has a little work to do in this series. These teams met in a three-game series earlier in the year and the Sox came away with two wins in that set. They also happen to be 5-2 against the Astros at Fenway Park over the past three seasons, and six of those seven games have gone Over the total. The starters in this one will be RHP Brad Peacock (12-2, 2.98 ERA, 159 K) for the Astros and LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (6-3, 3.91 ERA, 148 K) for the Sox. One trend that favors Houston here is the fact that the team is 39-11 against the money line on the road when the line is -100 to -150 this season. Boston, meanwhile, is an impressive 35-14 against the money line after three or more consecutive home games on the year.
Brad Peacock will be on the mound for the Astros on Thursday and he has been one of the teamís best pitchers this season. The righty has allowed two or fewer earned runs in six straight starts heading into this game, which is a number that will certainly give an explosive Houston offense a chance to win. Peacock has not, however, faced an offense quite like Bostonís. Heíll need to be a little careful here, as the Sox have their fair share of guys that can hit for power. Peacock has given up a homer in three straight coming into this one, but he must do everything he can to end that streak here. On offense, the Astros will be hoping that guys like 2B Jose Altuve and SS Carlos Correa can come through at the plate. Altuve is 0-for-3 against Eduardo Rodriguez in his career, which is something to keep an eye on here. Altuve can hit almost everybody in the league, so itís hard to believe that Rodriguez is his kryptonite. Look for him to figure him out here and come through with a couple of hits. Correa, meanwhile, is 2-for-2 against the lefty and it would not be shocking if he had a big day on Thursday.
The Red Sox are still playing for the top spot in the division and they have a reliable starter out there to win this game on Thursday. Rodriguez has been as good as anybody in the Boston rotation as of late, as the lefty has allowed just five earned runs in his past 25.1 innings on the mound. He has struck out six or more batters in each of those games and should be able to deliver here. Rodriguez has a 3.81 ERA at home this season, but his stuff is at its absolute best right now. On offense, one guy that Boston is hoping can keep it rolling now is DH Hanley Ramirez (.241 BA, 23 HR, 61 RBI). Ramirez has an RBI in three straight games and was 2-for-4 with a double and a homer against Toronto on Wednesday. It has been a miserable season for the slugger, but itíd be huge for the Red Sox if he can stay hot heading into the postseason.