The Astros season-long revenge tour is set to hit its biggest stop yet at Fenway Park
After winning the World Series in 2017, the Astros' 2018 season came to a premature end in the ALCS at the hands of the Red Sox. The Red Sox, of course, went on to win the World Series while the Astros could only watch longingly from home.
Over the offseason, they made clear that they don't want that to ever happen again and have approached 2019 as an airing of grievances, seeking revenge on all who stood in their way last year. Their star third baseman Alex Bregman -- who really leaned in to the role of the heel in the 2018 postseason -- predicted a Miami Heat-like dynasty. Even their mascot Orbit has gotten in the spirit of the revenge season.
More specifically, they've taken aim at the team that ended their 2018 campaign. A couple weeks after predicting a dynasty, Bregman said that beating Boston was what he most wanted to accomplish in 2019.
Sure, it's only May, but the Astros revenge tour will make its biggest stop this weekend for a three-game series against those very Red Sox at Fenway Park. Like the Beatles' performance at Shea Stadium on their 1965 tour, this series has the potential to define the team's 2019 Revenge Tour.
Rivalries are best when both teams are at the height of their powers and the Red Sox and Astros have been hitting their stride in recent weeks. They are the top two teams in runs scored in May. The Astros have won eight straight games and the Red Sox are right there with them, going 12-3 in their last 15 games.
When the two teams met last October, they were widely seen as the two best teams in baseball, with the winner as the likely favorite to win the World Series. The stakes aren't quite as high this time around -- again, it's only May -- but the atmosphere feels eerily similar to the one that produced some of the greatest social media trash talk in the history of baseball.
Bregman’s instagram story right is a video of the Astros going back-to-back-to-back dingers off Nate Eovaldi in June.— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) October 15, 2018
After a slow start to the season, the Red Sox have turned it on in recent weeks. Mookie Betts is ... well, he's being Mookie. That means that he's doing a little bit of everything. Jackie Bradley Jr. has been excellent as usual defensively, but took that to another level when he made the meme of the summer with a game-saving catch last week.
On the mound, Chris Sale has been dominant with double-digit strikeouts in each of his last three games, including a 17-strikeout performance against the Rockies.
The Astros mission for vengeance has shifted into hyperdrive over the last week. Josh Reddick is making leaping catches in basically every game now. Even the bullpen is getting involved in the outfield defense.
George Springer is leading the American League in home runs and RBIs, including an inside-the-parker that left him gasping for air on the dugout floor. Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are the top two pitchers in the AL in strikeouts and, more important, they're super pumped about it.
When your mission is revenge, you have to have some swagger and, for that, the Astros are not lacking. Not one bit.
No matter how this series goes, one thing is for sure: We're going to need some CPR sometime between now and Sunday.
Eric Chesterton is a writer for MLB.com. He is an appreciator of the stolen base, the bunt against the shift and nearly every unconventional uniform design. He eagerly awaits Jamie Moyer's inevitable comeback.