Tuesday, September 26, 2023
2023 National Football League Schedule, Book 1

MLB Preview: Boston Red Sox (67-60) at Houston Astros (72-56)


STATE OF THE SOX: The Red Sox have won 4 of their last 6 games…They’re 6-4 in their last 10 and 10-6 in their last 16. The Sox are 27-18 (.600) in their last 45 games since 6/30, MLB’s 6th-best record in that time (3rd in AL). At 67-60 (.528), the Sox own MLB’s 11th-best record.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT: The Red Sox defeated the Astros in 10 innings last night, 7-5…They improved to 4-4 in extra innings and earned their 25th come-from-behind win.
Adam Duvall (2-for-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB) hit a 3-run HR in the 10th inning to give BOS a 7-4 lead…It was his 3rd consecutive game with a homer. Chris Sale struck out 9 over 5.0 innings (6 H, 4 R, BB)…5 Red Sox relievers combined for 6.0 IP with 0 ER: Garrett Whitlock (2.0), Chris Martin (1.0), Kenley Jansen (0.1), Nick Pivetta (0.2), and Josh Winckowski (1.0).

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE: 25 of Boston’s remaining 35 games will be against teams that currently have a winning record (BAL-7, TB-5, HOU-4, TEX-3, TOR-3, LAD-3). Monday began a stretch of 10 straight games against teams with a winning record (at HOU, vs. LAD, vs. HOU). BOS is 34-34 against teams with a current record of .500 or better, and 33-26 against teams below .500.

NO TIME TO REST: Today concludes the Red Sox’ 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). With a win today, the Sox would split their 3rd series of the year (also at ATL, at MIN)…With a loss, they’d fall to 9-10-2 in road series, compared to 13-7-0 at home.

EAST VS. WEST: The current series vs. HOU begins a stretch of 13 consecutive games against teams outside of the AL East. The Sox are 13-12 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 6-4 in their last 10 games against the Astros…BOS won each of last season’s series, 2-1.

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 ranks 2nd in MLB in save % (77.6; 38-for-49), 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, MLB’s 2nd-longest active streak behind TOR’s Jordan Romano (21). Since 6/9, Chris Martin has allowed only 1 run over his last 28 outings (25.1 IP); he ranks 2nd in MLB with a 0.36 ERA in that span (min. 20.0 IP).

SLUGGING SOX: The Red Sox have homered in each of their last 12 games (18 total HR), their longest streak since August 2019 (19 games, 8/7-30). The Sox have homered in 20 of their 21 August games, after homering in only 16 of their previous 28 games. BOS has hit 12 HR in their last 7 games, 2nd most in the AL during that span (beginning 8/17) behind SEA (13).

ON THE OFFENSIVE: The Red Sox lead MLB in doubles (275)…Among AL teams, they rank 2nd in AVG (.262) and XBH (435), 3rd in OPS (.761), and 4th in OBP (.328) and SLG (.433). The Sox have recorded at least 9 hits in each of their last 7 games, 1 shy of tying their longest such streak of the season (8 games, 6/30-8/8). Boston has hit .285 with a .347 OBP and .828 OPS over those 7 games (74-for-260, 15 2B, 12 HR).

RISPY BUSINESS: The Sox went 4-for-11 with RISP last night, after going 4-for-28 (.143 AVG) during the first 2 games of the current series at HOU. Overall with RISP, Boston ranks 3rd in MLB in hits (310) and OBP (.355), and ranks 4th in AVG (.279).

REDTURN2: Since 6/1, Justin Turner ranks 3rd in MLB with 60 RBI…Over that span, he’s hit .429 (30-for-70) with RISP, the highest mark in the AL and 3rd highest in MLB. This Saturday, Turner and his wife, Kourtney, will host the 3rd Annual Turner Trot 5K…The race will start at the DCR Memorial Hatch Shell at 8:00 a.m. and continue onto the Charles River Esplanade, with a finisher festival at the Shell.

FOREVER AND DEVERS: Last night, Rafael Devers played his 789th career game at 3rd base, tying Jim Tabor for 4th most in Red Sox history (see box on right). Devers is 1 HR shy of his 3rd career 30-HR season (32 in 2019, 38 in 2021)…He’d join Ted Williams and Jim Rice as the only Red Sox players with three 30-HR seasons prior to turning 27.

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, Rangers, and Rays are the only other AL teams featuring as many as 3 players with 20+ HR (3 each).

HIGH FIVE: The Red Sox are an MLB-best 54-8 (.871) when scoring 5+ runs…They’ve done so in 7 of their last 10 games, compared to just 2 of their previous 10. Since 6/14, the Sox are 27-2 when scoring 5+ runs.

SCORING IN BUNCHES: The Red Sox have scored multiple runs in an inning at least once in each of their last 10 games (16 multi-run innings in that time). Last night, Boston scored 2 runs in the 3rd inning, 2 in the 5th, and 3 in the 10th. They’ve scored 3+ runs in at least 1 inning in 6 of their last 7 games…Since 6/1, they are 27-3 in games when they score 3+ runs in at least 1 inning.

2023 9-7 3.70 21 21 119.1 49 17 31 100 1.26 .258
CAREER 11-15 4.02 34 32 176.2 79 18 58 155 1.43 .278

Allowed 1 run over 6.0 IP on Friday at NYY (6 H, BB, 4 SO). BOS is 14-7 in his starts…Leads the Sox in wins (tied, 9), starts (21), and innings (119.1). Recorded only 2 outs in his lone start against HOU before leaving the game due to an injury on 8/3/22. Has posted a 5.03 ERA in 7 starts since the All-Star break (22 ER/39.1 IP). In his previous 12 starts before the All-Star break (4/29-7/5), posted a 2.35 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and .219 opponent AVG (72.2 IP, 19 ER, 60 H, 19 BB, 62 SO).
Has issued 2 or fewer walks in 19 of his 21 starts this season and 1 or fewer in 11. Has tossed 6.0+ innings in 11 of his last 13 starts, including 4 of his last 5.


TODAY’S GAME: The Astros and Red Sox will play the finale of their four-game series today, which will feature a pitching matchup of rookie RHP J.P. France opposite second-year starter RHP Brayan Bello…these two teams are within a streak of playing each other seven times within a 10-day span.

VIVE LA FRANCE!: Rookie RHP J.P. France has been a mainstay in the Astros rotation since making his MLB debut on May 6… while he doesn’t qualify for the ERA title, among AL pitchers with 100+ innings pitched this season, France ranks second in ERA, trailing only RHP Nathan Eovaldi (2.69)…he’s been remarkably consistent, making 17 starts and working 6.0+ innings in 13 of those outings, while posting 12 quality starts.

ROOKIE RESULTS: As pointed out by MLB.com reporter Brian McTaggart and Astros broadcaster Steve Sparks, the Astros have had eight top-five finishers in the last nine years in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting…they’re on pace to do so again this season with three rookies having strong seasons: RHP J.P. France (2.8 bWAR), C Yainer Diaz (2.5 bWAR) and RHP Hunter Brown (1.2 bWAR).

HOW THE WEST WAS WON: The AL West race has tightened over the last week, with the top three teams in the division all separated by 1.5 games…the Astros, who are 1.0 game out of first, have gone 4-4 over their last eight, while the Rangers have lost six straight, and the Mariners had won eight straight prior to a loss yesterday.

HUNTING FIRST PLACE: The Astros can move into a tie for first place in the AL West division with a win today and a Rangers loss at MIN…should both occur, it would mark the first time for the Astros to own a share for the division lead this season… Houston has cut their deficit down to 1.0 game on multiple occasions in 2023.

ABOUT LAST NIGHT: The Astros dropped another extra-inning game last night, losing to the Red Sox by a score of 7-5 in 10 innings…it was a tight ballgame all night before a three-run homer by Red Sox CF Adam Duvall in the 10th proved to be the difference…the Astros battled back to load the bases in the 10th, but couldn’t push across the tying run…the Astros offense outhit the Red Sox, 12-9, with DH Yainer Diaz (3×5, RBI) posting a three-hit game and C Martín Maldonado (1×2) hitting a two-run homer in the defeat.

TODAY’S ROSTER MOVE: The Astros have recalled RHP Brandon Bielak from Triple A Sugar Land…he takes the roster spot of RHP Seth Martinez, who was optioned to Triple A last night.

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 HOT STREAK: 2B Jose Altuve returned from the IL on July 26 and has since appeared in 25 games, in which he’s hit .380 (38×100) with a .449 OBP and a 1.011 OPS…he’s reached base safely in 23 of his 25 games since returning, and has hit safely in 21 of those 25 contests.

MVP NUMBERS: RF Kyle Tucker leads the AL in RBI (95), while ranking third in OPS (.894) and third in SLG (.522)… he’s also one of just three players in the Majors with 24-ormore home runs and steals, joining NL MVP candidate Ronald Acuña Jr. (28 HR, 58 SB) and SS Bobby Witt Jr. (26 HR, 37 SB)…defensively, Tucker, the reigning AL Gold Glove winner, has more starts (119) than any other AL player in right field, and has committed just one error in his 241 total chances.

FILLING UP THE STAT SHEET: 3B Alex Bregman, who has reached base safely in nine of his 15 plate appearances this series, owns a share for the AL lead in games played (127), while ranking tied for second in walks (73), fifth in RBI (82) and 10th in OBP (.357)…Bregman has already reached 20 homers on the season and is on pace for 103 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 on Monday, 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 2.34 ERA (18ER/69.1IP) this month, which is the lowest in the AL…RHP Bryan Abreu (8.2IP) and RHP Ryan Pressly
(7IP) have been scoreless in August, while RHP Ryne Stanek (1ER/7.2IP) and RHP Rafael Montero (3ER/9IP) and are also having strong months.

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

  • OF Yordan Alvarez was a late scratch from Tuesday’s lineup and did not play yesterday due to left index finger soreness.
  • OF Michael Brantley (right shoulder surgery) will work out at Minute Maid Park today after playing each of the last two nights for Triple A Sugar Land…last night, Brantley went 1×3 with two walks, while playing the entire game at DH…he is now 5×18 (.267) with a homer and four RBI in five games for Sugar Land on his current injury rehab assignment.
  • RHP Phil Maton (right elbow contusion) threw a bullpen session off the game mound yesterday…he’s expected to need an injury rehab appearance prior to an activation…Maton has missed 11 games since being placed on the IL on Aug. 12.

LAST START – 8/18 VS. SEA: recorded his 12th quality start of the season, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits with 7 strikeouts in 6.0 innings…has thrown 6.0-or-more innings in 13 of his 17 starts this season….allowed both of his runs on solo homers, which were the first home runs allowed by him since July 5 vs COL.

RISING STAR: since his debut on May 6, ranks 2nd in the AL with a 2.75 ERA, behind only BAL RHP Kyle Bradish (2.63)…is also T-7th in the Majors in wins over that span.

HISTORIC START: is 1 of 6 players in Astros history, and the 1st since RHP Lance McCullers Jr. in 2015, to record 100+ IP through their first 18 career appearances…his 2.75 ERA is the lowest of the group, directly ahead of teammate McCullers Jr. (3.10 ERA)…his 9 winning decisions are tied for the most in an Astros history through a player’s first 18 career outings, matching RHP Donnie Wall (1995-96).

WINNING STREAK: prior to his last start on Aug. 18 vs. SEA, won 7 consecutive winning decisions, which is the longest streak by an Astros pitcher this season…the last Astros pitcher to win more than 8 consecutive decisions was Justin Verlander (9) from June 24-Sept. 16 in 2022…it’s T-6th for the longest winning streak from an MLB pitcher this season (including relievers)…the last Astros rookie to win 7 consecutive decisions was RHP Josh James from Sept. 18, 2018-Sept. 5, 2019…per Elias, the Astros record for a rookie winning streak is 9, set by LHP Jeriome Robertson (2003) and RHP Donnie Wall (1995-96).

ROOKIE LEADERBOARD: among MLB rookies (min. 100 IP), ranks 1st in ERA (2.75), T-2nd in wins (9) and 1st in quality starts (12)…among AL rookies (min. 100 IP), ranks 2nd in opponent OPS (.675), T-3rd in WAR produced by STATS (1.5), 2nd in WHIP (1.21) and 2nd in opponent batting average (.246).

QUALITY STUFF: has the most quality starts (12) through a player’s first 18 career outings in Astros franchise history, directly ahead of RHP Brian Williams in 1992 (11) ..also logged 6 consecutive quality starts from June 4-July 5 and logged 6+ innings in 7 straight starts from May 29-July 5… the last Astros rookie with 7 straight starts of 6.0+ was RHP Chris Sampson, who had a 9-game streak in 2007…the last Astros rookie with a streak of at least 6 straight quality starts in a single season was also Sampson, who went on a 7-game streak (May 11, 2007-June 13, 2007)…the only other Astros pitcher with a longer quality start streak this season was a 7-game streak from LHP Framber Valdez (April 4-May 9).

BIG LEAGUE DEBUT: rookie right-hander made his Major League debut at the Mariners with a start on May 6…tossed 5 scoreless innings while allowing 3 hits and striking out 5 batters in a no-decision… struck out Julio Rodríguez for the 1st strikeout of his career, which was also the 1st batter he faced in his career…allowed 1 earned run in 11.2 IP through his first two MLB starts…he became the 4th pitcher in club history to work 5.0-plus innings, allowing 1-or-fewer runs in each of his first 2 Major League starts…joining LHP Dallas Keuchel (2012), LHP Carlos Hernández (2001) and RHP Manny Hernández as the only other Astros pitcher to record this feat.

ON THE ROAD: has posted a 1.92 ERA (11ER/51.2IP) through the first 9 road games of his career… has held opponent’s to a .638 OPS in those starts…is the 2nd lowest road ERA in the Majors from a starting pitcher (min. 40 IP), trailing only TB RHP Aaron Civale (1.86).

IN RELIEF: allowed 1 run (0 earned) on 3 hits and 3 walks with 4 strikeouts in 3.1 innings of relief on Aug. 6 at NYY…entered the game with the game with bases loaded and 2 outs with the score tied at 5 and stranded all 3 runners after NYY 2B Gleyber Torres flew out to center field…marked his first relief outing of his Major League career and helped the Astros secure a split of the 4-game series at Yankee Stadium…is tied for the 2nd-longest relief appearance by an Astro this season, trailing only a 4-IP relief effort from RHP Brandon Bielak on May 1 vs. SFG.

ABOUT FRANCE: was selected in the 14th round by the Astros in the 2018 draft out of Mississippi State…the 2023 season is his 6th in the Astros system.

  • spent the entire 2022 season with Triple A Sugar Land, going 3-4 with a 3.90 ERA (48ER/110.2IP) in 34 games (15 starts)…struck out 136 hitters in his 110.2 innings, while allowing a .233 opponent average.

FRANCE’S 2023 MILB SEASON: prior to being recalled, he was with Triple A Sugar Land, going 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA (5ER/19.1IP) in 5 games (3 starts)…worked between the rotation and bullpen in the Space Cowboys’ piggyback starter role.

  • had 26 strikeouts in 19.1 innings, while allowing just 9 hits on the season…posted a .136 (9×66) opponent average and a 1.03 WHIP.
  • did not allow a home run this season in the homer-friendly Pacific Coast League…has not allowed a homer at the MiLB level since Aug. 13, 2022 at ELP…since that date, has made 17 total MiLB appearances (36IP).
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