HOUSTON -- The Astros, who got homers from Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa and 6 1/3 scoreless innings from their bullpen to beat the Red Sox in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, will try to take a commanding 2-0 lead in Saturday’s Game 2 at Minute Maid Park.
“When you've got the two best teams in the American League going out there, you're going to get great games,” Correa said. “And when you look at the talent on the field, position by position, it's just a lot of special players out there trying to help their teams win. I feel like this series is going to be fun to watch just all around, however many games we play. It's going to be special, and I feel like baseball fans are in for a treat. These are two really good teams going at it.”
In a best-of-seven series, there was no panic from Boston and manager Alex Cora, whose team lost Game 1 of the 2018 ALCS to the Astros before reeling off four consecutive wins.
“No, we have a good baseball team, and I think on a daily basis we're getting the results,” Cora said. “We stay in the moment. You win, you turn the page, you prepare for tomorrow. You lose, you turn the page, you prepare for tomorrow. They've done an amazing job since Day One of the season, and I joke with that, but it's the truth. We lost the first three games of the season to Baltimore, and we felt like Game 4 [of the AL Division Series] against Tampa was the season, to be honest with you. We've been living like this for a while, so we'll be ready for tomorrow.”
When is the game and how can I watch it?
The game will air on FOX and FS1 at 4:20 p.m. ET/3:20 CT on Saturday. It is also available to stream on MLB.TV with authentication.
What are the starting lineups?
Red Sox: Kiké Hernández somehow maintained his torrid pace from the ALDS with a monster performance (4-for-5, two homers, a double) in the Game 1 loss. Now, he needs his teammates to follow suit. The Red Sox had a chance to add on to a 3-1 lead in the opener at Minute Maid Park. When they didn’t, it cost them. They’ll try to make up for that in Game 2.
Astros: Michael Brantley starts in left field, switching places with Yordan Alvarez, who will be the DH. Chas McCormick is back in the lineup after going 3-for-4 in Game 1.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Red Sox: Flame-throwing righty Nathan Eovaldi (11-9, 3.75 in regular season, 1-0, 2.61 in postseason) will take the ball in Game 2, just 30 miles from his hometown of Alvin, Texas. Eovaldi loves pitching in Houston almost as much as he loves pitching in the playoffs. He will try to duplicate his performance at Minute Maid Park in Game 3 of the 2018 ALCS, when he allowed two runs over six innings in a big win for Boston. In his career against the Astros, including the playoffs, Eovaldi is 2-2 with a 3.68 ERA in eight appearances.
Astros: Rookie right-hander Luis Garcia, who lasted only 2 2/3 innings in his ALDS Game 3 start at Chicago, will make his third career playoff start. Garcia (11-8, 3.30 ERA in the regular season) pitched much better at home (2.39 ERA) than he did on the road (4.24 ERA) in the regular season. He threw a career-high 155 1/3 innings in 2021, striking out 167, and pitched more than five innings only five times in his final 12 starts in the regular season. Garcia averaged only 82.4 pitches in his final five starts of the year as the Astros pulled back on his innings load.
How will the bullpens line up after the starter?
Red Sox: After another abbreviated outing by Chris Sale in Game 1, the Red Sox needed 16 outs from seven relievers. The good news heading into Game 2 is that nobody besides Adam Ottavino (1 1/3 innings) was asked to get more than three outs. Also, Garrett Whitlock, Boston’s best relief pitcher all season, didn’t pitch in Game 1. It will be interesting to see if Cora follows one of his favorite patterns and uses starters Nick Pivetta and/or Eduardo Rodriguez as rovers in Game 2.
Astros: In Game 1, the Astros used seven relievers who combined to throw 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball. The good news for the Astros is only one reliever threw more than 20 pitches, with Cristian Javier throwing 28 pitches in two innings. Every other pitcher threw one inning or fewer. Baker picked some good spots for Yimi García, Phil Maton and Brooks Raley before turning the ball over to Ryne Stanek, Kendall Graveman and Ryan Pressly to close it out. If Luis Garcia can give them five innings, they should have enough options to cover the final four innings.
Are there any relievers who are unavailable?
Red Sox: Aside from Sale, Boston’s entire staff should be available in Game 2. Cora isn’t one to hold back this time of year.
Astros: Javier threw 28 pitches in two innings in Game 1, so it’s not impossible he could come back and pitch in Game 2, but the Astros will probably try to stay away from him.
Any injuries of note?
Red Sox: The Red Sox are fully healthy aside from Garrett Richards, who was taken off the ALDS roster with a left hamstring strain and isn’t eligible to pitch in this series.
Astros: Right-hander pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. was dropped from the team’s roster for the ALCS after he was diagnosed with a right flexor pronator muscle strain, an injury suffered in his start in Game 4 of the ALDS. That means McCullers won’t be available for the Astros in the ALCS. Astros general manager James Click said an MRI performed on McCullers’ arm revealed no structural damage.
Who is hot and who is not?
Red Sox: Hernández isn’t hot. He is smoldering. As in 13-for-21 with four doubles and four homers in his last four games. Star third baseman Devers, who has looked hampered at times by a right forearm injury, is starting to come around. Devers had two hits in Game 1 and is 5-for-9 in his last two games. Schwarber started the postseason on fire but has one hit in eight at-bats in the last two contests.
Astros: Brantley has a 16-game postseason hitting streak, during which he’s batting .348 with three homers and 13 RBIs. The streak began in Game 1 of the 2020 ALDS. Correa is hitting .471 in the playoffs with five RBIs. Bregman is hitting .350 in the playoffs with four RBIs. Altuve is hitting .316 in the playoffs with two homers and six RBIs. Gurriel is 4-for-20 with four singles and Maldonado is 1-for-17.
Anything else fans might want to know?
The Astros are 4-0 in postseason games in which Altuve and Correa both hit home runs.
Rookie reliever Tanner Houck has electric stuff, but has given up a two-run homer in each of his last two outings. The Red Sox need to get him back on track.
The Red Sox had been 15-0 in postseason games under Cora when holding a two-run lead prior to the loss in Game 1 on Friday.
Altuve is tied with Derek Jeter for the third-most home runs (20) in MLB postseason history, directly behind Bernie Williams (22). He’s the fastest player in MLB history (68 games) to reach 20 career postseason homers. Altuve has also scored 60 career postseason runs, placing him fifth in MLB postseason history, directly behind Kenny Lofton (65).
Correa’s 55 career playoff RBIs are the most among active players and fifth most in playoff history, and his 18 career postseason homers are tied with Nelson Cruz, Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for seventh most in MLB postseason history.