How Boston fared vs. ALCS foes Astros in '21

October 13th, 2021

BOSTON -- As the Rays and Red Sox battled for a chance to play in the American League Championship Series, Houston and Chicago faced off halfway across the country looking for the same opportunity.

Boston polished off Tampa Bay on Monday night on Kiké Hernández's game-winning sac fly, but the Sox had to wait one more day to discover their opponent in the battle for the AL pennant after Game 4 between the Astros and White Sox was rained out and rescheduled for Tuesday. When all was said and done, Houston had romped to a 10-1 win to clinch its fifth straight ALCS appearance and set up a rematch of the 2018 ALCS, which Red Sox fans remember fondly.

The 2021 iteration of the ALCS begins Friday at Minute Maid Park, but before we get there, here’s a breakdown of how the Red Sox fared against Houston in 2021.

Season series: 2-5
Run differential: minus-17 (25-42)
May 31-June 3 at Houston: Series loss
June 8-June 10 at Fenway: Series loss

What went right
Little went right for the Red Sox in their two series meetings with the Astros. Unlike in its losses to Chicago, Boston had no close games with Houston. Though the Red Sox scraped together a win on June 3, they didn’t see everything click until the final game of the second series, with a crazy 12-8 win. In that victory, catcher Christian Vázquez compared the environment at Fenway to that of a postseason game -- perhaps foreshadowing a matchup this October? The win highlighted something the Red Sox have been doing all of 2021, including in the postseason: coming back. Though the club ultimately won by four runs, Boston battled through six lead changes to come out on top.

What went wrong
Boston’s offense struggled mightily against Houston, particularly the middle of the order. On June 1, the combination of Alex Verdugo, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers went 2-for-16. The good news for the Red Sox? The offense has since found its stride. So far this postseason, the quartet of Verdugo, Martinez, Bogaerts and Devers is slashing a combined .359/.412/.628 with six homers, nine extra-base hits and 20 RBIs.

Where were they
In their first series at Minute Maid Park, the Red Sox were opening a seven-game road trip (four vs. Astros, three vs. Yankees) while sitting two games back of the Rays. After its June 1 loss, Boston sat at 32-22 one-third of the way through the season. Less than a week later they met again, with the Red Sox having made a slight jump in the standings (1 1/2 games back).