Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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MLB Preview: Boston Red Sox (66-59) at Houston Astros (71-55)


STATE OF THE SOX: The Red Sox last night snapped a 3-game winning streak…They are 8-4 in their last 12 games. The Sox are 26-17 (.605) in their last 43 games since 6/30, MLB’s 6th-best record in that time (3rd in AL). At 66-59 (.528), the Sox own MLB’s 11th-best record.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT: The Red Sox lost their series opener in Houston last night, 9-4…They recorded 11 hits, and have recorded double-digit hits in 4 of their last 5 games. Adam Duvall hit a 3-run HR in the 1st inning and finished 3-for-5 (R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI)…Alex Verdugo also recorded 3 hits (3-for-5, R, 2B).

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: 27 of Boston’s remaining 37 games will be against teams that currently have a winning record (BAL-7, HOU-6, TB-5, TEX-3, TOR-3, LAD-3). Yesterday began a stretch of 10 straight games against teams with a winning record (at HOU, vs. LAD, vs. HOU). From 8/7-20, the Red Sox went 9-4 over a stretch of 13 consecutive games against sub-.500 teams. BOS is 33-33 against teams with a current record of .500 or better, and 33-26 against teams below .500.

NO TIME TO REST: The Red Sox are currently on a season-long 10-game road trip (3 at WSH, 3 at NYY, 4 at HOU). The Sox are in a stretch of 32 games in 34 days (7/28-
8/30)…That includes a stretch of 16 consecutive days with a game from 8/15-30.

SERIES BUSINESS: The Red Sox are 3-1-0 in their last 4 series…At 22-16-2, they have already matched their series win total from 2022 (22-24-6).

EAST VS. WEST: Last night, Boston began a stretch of 13 consecutive games against teams outside of the AL East. The Sox are 12-11 vs. AL West clubs, but they have
lost each of their 3 road series against the division (0-3 at LAA, 1-2 at OAK, 1-2 at SEA). The Sox are 5-3 in their last 8 games against the Astros…BOS won each of last season’s series, 2-1.

PITCHING IN: Boston ranked 27th in MLB with a 5.09 ERA at the end of play on 5/15, but ranks 4th in the AL and 8th in the majors with a 4.02 ERA since then. Overall, the Sox rank 18th in the majors in ERA (4.38).

LOCK IT DOWN: The Red Sox own MLB’s best record when leading after 6 innings (51-3, .944)…In 2022, they ranked 18th in MLB when leading after 6 (63-10, .863). Boston leads MLB in save % (78.7; 37-for-47), after ranking 24th last season (57.4; 39-for-68).

CLOSING ACT: Kenley Jansen has converted each of his last 20 save opportunities since 5/20, tied with TOR’s Jordan Romano for MLB’s longest active streak. Since 6/9, Chris Martin has allowed only 1 run over his last 27 outings (24.1 IP); he ranks 2nd in MLB with a 0.37 ERA in that span (min. 20.0 IP).


Pitcher (Years) SV
Tom Gordon (1998-99)………54
Koji Uehara (2013-14)……….31
Derek Lowe (2000-01) ………25
Jonathan Papelbon (2011) …25
Craig Kimbrel (2016-17)…….25
Pitcher (Years) SV
Craig Kimbrel (2018)…………23
Jonathan Papelbon (2009-10)…22
Jonathan Papelbon (2005-06)…20
Kenley Jansen (2023)…..20

SLUGGING SOX: The Red Sox have homered in each of their last 10 games, their longest streak since 9/28/21- 4/11/22 (10 games)…They haven’t had a longer streak since August 2019 (19 games, 8/7-30). The Sox have homered in 18 of their 19 August games, after homering in only 16 of their previous 28 games. BOS has hit 10 HR in their last 5 games, 2nd most in the AL during that span (beginning 8/17) behind SEA (12).

ON THE OFFENSIVE: Among AL teams, the Red Sox rank 2nd in AVG (.262), doubles (268), and XBH (427), 3rd in OPS (.761), and 4th in OBP (.328) and SLG (.433). In their last 5 games, the Sox have hit .297 with a .356 OBP, .508 SLG, and .865 OPS.

3/30-5/6 35 21-14 .273 .800 5.9
5/7-6/13 33 12-21 .243 .704 3.8
6/14-7/27 34 22-12 .281 .803 5.4
7/28-8/12 15 6-9 .231 .668 3.3
8/13-pres. 8 5-3 .277 .813 5.8

HIGH FIVE: The Red Sox are an MLB-best 53-8 (.869) when scoring 5+ runs…They’ve scored at least 5 runs in 6 of their last 8 games, including 4 straight from Thursday-Sunday. Since 6/14, the Sox are 26-2 when scoring 5+ runs.

SCORING IN BUNCHES: The Red Sox have scored 3+ runs in an inning at least once in each of their last 5 games, their longest such streak since May 2022 (5 games, 5/19-24). They haven’t done so in 6 straight games since September 2021 (8 games, 9/14-24). The last time Boston did so in as many as 5 consecutive road games was 2016 (6 games, 5/28-6/2). Since 6/1, they are 26-3 in games when they score 3+ runs in at least 1 inning. The Sox have scored multiple runs in an inning at least once in each of their last 8 games (12 multi-run innings in that time).

20/20 VISION: Boston has 3 players with 20+ HR this season (Devers-29, Casas-20, Turner-20), after having only 1 in 2022 (Devers-27). The Astros and Rangers are the only other AL teams featuring as many as 3 players with 20+ HR (3 each).

TRISTON TIME: Triston Casas drew his 75th career walk last night, joining Ted Williams as the only Red Sox players to ever record at least 25 HR and 75 BB within their first 140 career games…He became the 1st player in MLB to do so since Juan Soto in 2018-19. Since the All-Star Break, Casas ranks T-2nd in the AL in home runs (11), 2nd in SLG (.680), and 4th in OPS (.1.092) (min. 100 PA).

RUNNIN’ RED SOX: The Sox rank 11th in MLB in stolen base % and 17th in steals (80.6, 87-for-108)…They have been successful in each of their last 8 attempts since /11. 18 players have stolen a base for Boston this season, most in the AL and tied with PIT for most in MLB.

2023 3-6 5.05 13 13 67.2 38 9 23 64 1.26 .243
CAREER 12-15 3.66 66 33 213.2 87 17 75 228 1.17 .223

Missed the Sox’ last 54 games while on the IL with a facial fracture (6/18-8/21). Allowed 2 runs over 8.2 IP in 3 rehab starts with Triple-A Worcester. Has pitched at least 5.0 innings and issued 2 or fewer walks in 10 of his 13 starts this year. Has tossed 2.2 scoreless innings with 2 saves in 2 career outings against HOU. The Sox are 18-15 in his 33 career starts…Allowed 3 ER or fewer in 29 of those. Has an expected ERA of 3.92 (based on contact quality and quantity). Opponents have a .202 AVG in at-bats ending with his slider (17-for-84, 5 XBH, 26 SO).


TONIGHT’S GAME: The Astros and Red Sox will play Game 2 of their four-game series tonight, which will feature a pitching matchup of RHP Justin Verlander opposite RHP Tanner Houck… Verlander, who’s making his fourth start as an Astro since being re-acquired via trade, has gone 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA (9ER/18IP) with Houston this season.

MAKING HISTORY: Future Hall of Famer RHP Justin Verlander is working his way up the all-time lists this season, having already surpassed the 500-start mark and the 250-win plateau in 2023…per STATS, he enters tonight’s start ranking 45th all-time in wins with 252, trailing Hall of Famer LHP Carl Hubbel (253) by just one victory.

MLB All-Time Wins List (#44-47) per STATS

  1. Carl Hubbel: 253 T46. Bob Gibson: 251
  2. Justin Verlander: 252 T46. CC Sabathia: 251

HOW THE WEST WAS WON: The AL West race has tightened up over the last week, with this division being the only in the Majors with three teams within 2.0 games of first place…the Astros, who are 1.5 games out, have gone 5-5 over their last 10, while the Rangers (L5) and Mariners (W7) enter play tonight with lengthy streaks going in different directions.

VS. THE RED SOX: The Astros are facing the Red Sox for the first time this season and are in the midst of playing them seven times within 10 days…these two teams have seen each other three times in the postseason since 2017, most recently meeting in the 2021 ALCS, won by Houston in six games.

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: The Astros are taking nominations for the 2023 Houston Baseball Media Wall of Honor inductee… the Wall recognizes a Houston media member who has made significant and lasting contributions to the landscape of baseball in Houston through their work in journalism or broadcasting.

LAST NIGHT’S COMEBACK: Trailing 3-0 after the top of the 1st, the Astros battled back for a 9-4 victory over the Red Sox last night…the offense was huge for the club, as they hammered out 16 hits, including three homers…leading the charge was LF Chas McCormick (2×4, 4RBI), who homered twice, and 3B Alex Bregman (3×3), who reached base safely in all five of his plate appearances…RHP Cristian Javier (9-2) picked up the win while working around heavy traffic, including 11 baserunners in his 5.0 frames.

2K JOSE: On Saturday, 2B Jose Altuve recorded his 2,000th career hit…he finished that game with 2,001 hits, 201 homers and 291 stolen bases in what was his 1,630th career game… according to MLB Stats, Altuve is the fastest player in MLB history (in terms of games played) to reach at least 2,000 hits, 200 homers and 200 stolen bases…the previous record holder was Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who did so in 1,669 games.

ALTUVE’S STREAK: 2B Jose Altuve has reached base safely in 22 straight games, which ranks as the fourth-longest streak of his career and his longest since he had a 29-game streak in 2017…over his last 22 games, Altuve is hitting .411 (37×90) with 12 walks, 21 runs scored, a .485 OBP and a 1.074 OPS.

MVP NUMBERS: RF Kyle Tucker ranks second in the AL in RBI (92), third in OPS (.901) and fourth in SLG (.524)…he’s also one of just three players in the Majors with 24-or-more home runs and steals, joining NL MVP candidate Ronald Acuña Jr. (28 HR, 56 SB) and SS Bobby Witt Jr. (25 HR, 37 SB)…defensively, Tucker, the reigning AL Gold Glove winner, has more starts (117) than any other AL player in right field, and has committed just one error in his 238 total chances.

FILLING UP THE STAT SHEET: 3B Alex Bregman, who reached base safely five times last night (3×3, 2 BB), owns a share for the AL lead in games played (125), while ranking tied for second in walks (71), fifth in RBI (81) and eighth in OBP (.356)… Bregman has already reached 20 homers on the season and is on pace for 104 RBI, which would give him his third career 100-plus RBI season (2018-19).

YAINER BOMBS: C Yainer Diaz connected for his 18th homer of the season last night, becoming the eighth rookie in franchise history to hit 18-plus homers in a single season…you don’t have to look far to find others on that list, with SS Jeremy Peña (22 HR in 2022) being the last to do so, and LF Yordan Alvarez (27 HR in 2019) owning the franchise rookie record.

THE ARM BARN: The Astros bullpen has combined for a 1.92 ERA (13ER/61IP) this month, which is the lowest in the Majors…RHP Bryan Abreu (7.2IP), RHP Ryan Pressly (6IP) and RHP Ryne Stanek (6.2IP) have all been scoreless in August, while RHP Rafael Montero (1ER/8IP) and RHP Kendall Graveman (2ER/9.1IP) are also having strong months.

FROM THE TRAINER’S ROOM: The Astros have three players working their way back from injury…updates on each:

  • 1B José Abreu (lumbar spine inflammation) is scheduled to participate in a full pregame workout today…Abreu has missed 11 games since hitting the IL (Aug. 10).
  • OF Michael Brantley (right shoulder surgery) will resume his rehab assignment at Triple A tonight…Brantley went 2×4 with an RBI in his last game on Saturday and is now 4×11 (.364) with a homer and four RBI in his three rehab games so far.
  • RHP Phil Maton (right elbow contusion) threw a bullpen session yesterday for the first time since suffering his injury… he is scheduled to throw another tomorrow…Maton has missed nine games since being placed on the IL on Aug. 12.


LAST START – 8/16 AT MIA: allowed 5 runs (4 ER) on 9 hits and 2 walks with 2 strikeouts in 5.0 innings…recorded his 252nd career victory passing Hall-of-Famer Bob Gibson and CC Sabathia for the 45th most victories in MLB history.

500 CLUB: on Aug. 11 vs. LAA was the 500th of his career…per Elias, he became just the 48th player in Major League history to reach that mark and is 1 of 2 active players with at least 500 career starts, joining Zack Greinke (536)…with his 500th start, he tied former Astro Joe Niekro for No. 48 all-time in games started in MLB history…of Modern Era pitchers (since 1901), Verlander ranks 38th in career starts directly behind Jim Bunning with 519 starts.

STRONG STRETCH: over his last 10 starts (3 with the Astros), has gone 6-2 with a 2.39 ERA (16ER/60.1IP) and has held opponents to a .217 batting average (49×226) and a .598 OPS. A

VERLANDER AS A MET: after earning his 2022 Cy Young Award and helping guide the Astros to their 2nd World Series title, departed the Astros via free agency this offseason…signed a two-year deal (2023-24) with the Mets, which also included a vesting option for 2025.

  • began the season on the IL after suffering a right teres major strain…returned in May and went on to make 16 starts as a Met, going 6-5 with a 3.15 ERA 33ER/94.1IP)…the Mets went 8-8 in his 16 starts.
  • excelled over his final 7 starts in New York, going 4-1 with a 1.49 ERA (7ER/42.1IP)… allowed just a .178 opponent average in those outings.

VS. BOS: will be making his 19th regular season starts of his career against the Boston Red Sox…he’s recorded a 2.87 ERA (40ER/125.1IP) with 105 strikeouts, a .218 opponent batting average, a 1.10 WHIP, and 13 quality starts in 19 career starts against the Red Sox.

  • in the postseason against the Red Sox, he’s notched a 3.14 ERA (10ER/28.2IP) with 23 strikeouts, a 1.96 opponent batting average and a 1.08 WHIP.
  • will be making first start against the Red Sox since May 26, 2019…in that start, he allowed 3 runs (2 ER) on 5 hits with 6 strikeouts in 7.0 innings.
2023 National Football League Schedule, Book 1

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