By Dan Roche

HOUSTON (CBS) — The Red Sox and Astros are meeting in the postseason for the third time in five seasons. Houston took out Boston in the 2017 ALDS en route to a title while the Sox beat the Astros in the 2018 ALCS en route to their own World Series crown.

That makes this year a rubber match of sorts, with the bout getting started Friday night in Houston. Let’s take a look at four keys to Boston taking the series and securing a spot in the World Series.

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Win One In Houston

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts turns a double play against the Houston Astros. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

The Red Sox have to take one of the two games in Houston and Alex Cora will play that way. He starts Chris Sale in Game 1 with a well-rested bullpen, as well as Nick Pivetta and Eduardo Rodriguez behind him. And, if that fails, he’ll have Nathan Eovaldi with another day of rest for Game 2.

A split in Houston and the Sox will be in good shape as they’ll come home for three straight at a rockin’ Fenway Park.

Bats Cannot Go Silent

Kiké Hernández celebrates after driving in the game-winning run to eliminate the Rays from the ALDS. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The Sox need to hit, hit, and hit some more. Let’s face it, they aren’t the best defensive team and make some baserunning mistakes, but they can make up for that with their lumber.

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In five postseason games, Boston is hitting .328 while averaging over six runs and nearly 13 hits per game. Kike’ Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber need to keep setting the tone at the top of the lineup so Raffy Devers, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and company can keep the line moving.

I Need A Hero

Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez celebrates his walk-off home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during Game 3 of the ALDS. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Find a hero. What I love about postseason baseball is in these series, someone unexpectedly steps up with a huge hit or even a huge series. We saw Christian Vazquez do it with his Game 3 heroics against Tampa Bay, as well as Nick Pivetta, who dazzled in relief.

A guy like Christian Arroyo could fill that role as he gets healthier and gets his swing back to where he wants it. Or Hunter Renfroe could go on a home run binge. It’s what can make these playoff games so special.

All Arms On Deck

Red Sox pitcher Nick Pivetta reacts after getting the last out in a scoreless twelfth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3 of the ALDS. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The “whatever it takes” mode of pitching needs to work. Alex Cora was a master at it in 2018 and in the Tampa Bay series too. He’s great at finding the right spots for his starters to come in and close the door. In ‘18 it was amazing to watch Rick Porcello, David Price and Sale come out of the bullpen and come through time and time again.

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Cora will need to work his magic again if the Sox are to pull this one out.