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Red Sox vs. Astros ALCS Game 1 Preview and Best Bet

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Red Sox vs. Astros ALCS Game 1 Preview and Best Bet
Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox. Bob Levey/Getty Images/AFP

Football is king on Saturday and Sunday this time of year, but the weekend sports betting lineup begins on the diamond instead of the gridiron as the Boston Red Sox meets the Houston Astros in the ALCS.

Boston Red Sox vs. Houston Astros

Friday, October 15, 2021 – 8:07 PM EDT at Minute Maid Park

Houston and Boston each dispatched their ALDS opponents in four games, the Astros taking out Tony La Russa and the Chicago White Sox while the Red Sox upset the top-seeded Tampa Bay Rays. With the Los Angeles Dodgers advancing in their NLDS, they still own the top line on the baseball futures board, Houston and Boston trailing in the 2-3 slots with the Atlanta Braves bringing up the rear of MLB’s Final Four.

The Astros are favored to win the best of seven series, online betting sites generally carrying them in the -140 to -150 range. Alex Cora and the Red Sox have yet to officially name their starting pitcher for Game 1, though it’s expected to be veteran lefthander Chris Sale (5-1, 4.12). Houston will send its young southpaw Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.30) to the bump as -135 chalk with 8 runs for the scoreboard target.

Valdez and Sale Each Knocked Around in LDS Starts

Sale was lit up in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Rays last Friday, Tampa Bay jumping on him for five runs in the bottom of the first inning. Boston batters picked him up, however, to turn in a 14-6 win over the Rays who were small favorites in the contest. That would be the extent of Sale’s work in that series, and his first playoff appearance since a relief outing in Game 5 of the 2018 World Series against the Dodgers.

It has been close to 29 months since Sale went up against the Astros, Boston splitting a couple of back-to-backs starts the 32-year-old made against them in May 2019. Sale faced the Astros three times in the 2017 and 2018 playoffs, all three going into the loss column for the Red Sox while the Florida native compiled a 7.24 ERA (13.2 IP).

Chris Sale #41 of the Boston Red Sox. Kathryn Riley/Getty Images/AFP

Chicago cracked on Valdez a week ago in Game 2 of the ALDS, coming up with seven hits and four runs before chasing him from the mound in the fifth. Fortunately, Houston hitters were up to the task that day and supplied their own barrage against White Sox hurlers in a 9-4 Astros triumph. The 27-year old closed with three lackluster efforts among his final five starts of the regular season, and Houston is 14-9 in Valdez’s 23 starts this year, including the playoffs.

Valdez posted his first two dubious of 2021 in back-to-back starts against the Red Sox in June. He enjoyed a 7-IP, 1-R effort in Houston on June 2nd, then worked into the eighth allowing just a run six days later in Boston. He didn’t surrender a home run in either assignment, striking out 18 and walking only two.

Both Lineups Clicking in LDS Round

While both pitching staffs contributed some, Houston and Boston hitters were the main reason that seven of their nine combined postseason games went ‘over’ the MLB betting odds. The one ‘under’ winner the Astros and Red Sox each experienced came in their ALDS openers, probably just a coincidence but perhaps a sign their hitters were pressing a little more to begin those sets.

Boston is led by Kiké Hernandez who has been a man among boys this October. The Boston outfielder is batting .435 (10-23) in five playoff games, swatting a pair of homers, and driving in six runs along the way. Houston has been sparked at the top of the batting order by Jose Altuve who hit .313 in the series with Chicago and scored nine times.

‘Under a Winner Seven of Last Eight Meetings in Houston

It was the Astros who claimed regular-season honors against the Red Sox, Houston taking five of the seven clashes and winning three of the four at Minute Maid Park. The MLB scores in Houston ran 1-3 O/U and 3-4 O/U overall. In their 2018 ALCS collision, the ‘over’ prevailed in four of the five matchups. That was the second playoff meeting between the Red Sox and Astros, Houston winning three of four in a 2017 ALDS battle.

There is a 30% to 40% threat of afternoon showers in the Houston area on Friday, but the forecast really has nothing to do with the roof being shut at Minute Maid Park, which it will be for all games in this series. Boston bats are behind my free MLB pick to get this ALCS underway.

MLB Pick: Red Sox +125

*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.