BOSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox and Astros begin their battle for a trip to the World Series Saturday night at Fenway Park.
Boston has been the best team in baseball from start to finish, winning 108 games in the regular season, but the Astros were never far behind. The defending champs tallied 103 victories during the regular season, and just demolished the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. After Houston ended Boston’s season last year, it’s only fitting the two teams meet in this year’s ALCS.
Which team will be heading to the Fall Classic to take on the Brewers or Dodgers? Here’s how the WBZ-TV Sports team predicts the upcoming series playing out:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
Bring on the ALCS. The Red Sox have the No. 1 offense in the league, and the Astros have the No. 1 pitching staff. Something has to give.
These are the two best teams in baseball. Boston manager Alex Cora knows the strengths and weaknesses of the Astros, after winning a ring with them last year as a bench coach.
Red Sox in 7
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
I think this one will be a classic. I’m hoping for seven games too.
There’s no question that the Astros are loaded with Springer, Altuve, Bregman, Gurriel, Gonzalez, White, and Correa. Correa has been struggling mightily until breaking out with a three-run homer against the Indians in Game 3 of the ALDS. If he gets going, uh-oh.
Houston’s rotation begins and ends with Verlander. He’s a horse and won’t back down to anyone. Cole, Keuchel, Morton round out a strong four-man rotation. The Astros bullpen is stacked, with Osuna slamming the door and Ryan Pressly setting him up. Pressly has given up just two runs in 26 appearances since coming over from Minnesota.
The Red Sox are underdogs coming in. Yes, I know they won 108 games (now 111) and own a payroll of over $200 million. But, they are underdogs to the defending World Series champs. This Houston squad is as good a team as we’ve seen in years.
So, how do the Red Sox beat Houston? It won’t be easy. They have to stay aggressive and go right at them. They need Sale to match Verlander in Game 1, Price (yes, Price) to match Cole in Game 2, and so on and so forth.
I think if any team can match the Astros, it’s this Red Sox team. Boston finally won a playoff series and can now breathe, relax, and play. Go all out and don’t worry. I think the 16-1 rout in Game 3 against the Yankees was their signature win. They realized that they can be as good as anyone.
The Sox have home-field advantage and they need to use it. They can’t go down to Houston 1-1. They need a sweep at home and then figure out a way to win two of the remaining five games.
They believe in their manager, who has been pushing all the right buttons so far. I think the Sox are peaking at the perfect time. It won’t be easy, but I think it can be done.
Red Sox in 7
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
The Red Sox have had a great season but I get the feeling this is where it ends.
The Sox are great but Houston is special. They have playoff experience, the best starting pitching in baseball and they hit with runners in scoring position. Plus, they are red hot, 24-6 since the start of September.
The Sox are in step with the Astros in every way, but the starting pitching could tip the scales.
Astros in 6
Scott Sullivan, WBZ-TV Sports Producer
Astros in 6
Sully explained why he is picking the Astros in the latest edition of “A Slice Of Sully.”
Joe Giza, WBZ-TV Sports Producer
My prediction for the ALCS, in the words of Clubber Lang in Rocky III: “Pain”
I actually have no idea how this will play out. I don’t think there will be a sweep. The Astros hit home runs in BUNCHES so if there is a minuscule margin for error for the Sox pitching staff. The Sox bullpen can’t put themselves in the dangerous spots they did in the ALDS because Houston always seems to make teams pay.
Houston is confident because they beat the Sox last year in the playoffs and are the defending World Series champs, but this isn’t the same Red Sox team. Plus, Alex Cora has an intimate knowledge of everything Astros.
I guess I’ll be a homer and predict Red Sox in 7, with Cora playing the role of Jon Gruden when the Buccaneers demolished the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, because Gruden knew his former team inside and out.
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
I have to be honest: It’s hard to do anything here but pick the Red Sox after that heart-pounding finish to the ALDS in New York. Even for a deadened, lifeless soul like me, that ninth inning got me feeling all sorts of ways. It’s difficult to have witnessed that and then pick against the Red Sox.
But, well, I have to. It’s not that the Red Sox aren’t good, and it’s not that they don’t have a chance. They do. I’m picking the Astros in 6 because if you watched the Cleveland-Houston ALDS, then you should be very, very frightened of the team that’s coming to Fenway Park. The Astros are a near-perfect team. Their starting rotation led all of MLB in ERA (3.16), their offense ranked in the top five of the AL in just about every category, and they fixed their most glaring weakness by acquiring Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays. He posted a 0.882 WHIP while going 14-for-14 in save situations (12 saves, 2 holds) for Houston, and he’s kept that going thus far in the playoffs.
Watching that Cleveland series, the Astros have a way of igniting a rally in a completely overwhelming way. Once they get on you, the wave can be heavy. Might the Red Sox survive? Sure. But it’s hard to go against a team as balanced and confident as these Houston Astros.
Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
This is a special Red Sox team and if anyone is going to beat the Astros, it’s them. Unfortunately I don’t think that will happen; the Astros are just too stacked.
The Red Sox certainly have a chance, thanks to home-field advantage and Alex Cora’s in-depth knowledge of everything Astros. But winning depends on two things for Boston: Mookie Betts needs to start hitting, and David Price needs to give them a quality start (or two). I feel much more confident in one of those things than the other.
Both teams have powerful offenses, but the Red Sox own the edge in that department (especially if Mookie gets going). But Houston has the better overall pitching staff, and that will be the difference in this battle of strength vs. strength.
Astros in 6