Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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MLB Preview: Houston Astros (76-58) at Boston Red Sox (69-64)


TODAY’S GAME: The Astros and Red Sox play the finale of this 3-game series at Fenway Park today at 3:10 p.m CT… LHP Framber Valdez (9-9) will start for Houston as he takes on Bosox RHP Kutter Crawford (6-6)…today will be Valdez’ 1st regular season start/app. vs. the Red Sox since a 7-1 win on 6/8/21 at Fenway Park (7.1 IP, 1 ER, 8 SO)…he also faced BOS twice in the 2021 ALCS, earning the win in a pivotal, Game 5 matchup on 10/20/21 at Fenway (9-1 final, 8.0 IP, 1 ER), which gave HOU a 3-2 lead en route to winning the series in 6 games.

THE HORSE: LHP Framber Valdez is 4th in the AL in IP with 161.2 in 25 starts, but leads the league in IP per start at 6.5… RHP Gerrit Cole leads the AL with 168.0 IP in 27 starts (6.2 IP per start)…Valdez led the AL in IP in 2022 (201.1) and is 2nd in IP since the start of last season with 363.0 in 56 starts… Cole is 1st with 368.2 in 60 starts…Hitless Wonder: In his last start on 8/25 at DET, Valdez hurled 7.0 hitless, scoreless innings, earning ND in an eventual 4-1 loss…with that start, he became the 1st pitcher in 8 seasons with 2 outings of 7.0-ormore hitless innings in the same season (hurled a 9.0-inn. no-hitter, 8/1 vs. CLE)…RHP Max Scherzer was the last to do this, hurling 2 no-hitters in 2015.

VS. THE RED SOX: The Astros are 4-2 vs. BOS this season, splitting a 4-game set at Minute Maid Park last week (8/21- 24), prior to taking the 1st 2 of this series this week…At The

Fens: The Astros are 16-20 all-time at Fenway Park, but are 12-6 here since the start of the 2017 season…Postseason Foes: The Astros and Red Sox have faced off three times in the postseason since 2017…in those matchups, the Astros defeated the Bosox in the 2017 ALDS and in the 2021 ALCS, while the Bosox topped the Astros in the 2018 ALCS.

SWEEPSTAKES: A win today would give the Astros their 7th series sweep of the season and their first vs. BOS since 7/21- 23 of 2015 (3g) at Minute Maid Park…the Astros have never swept the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

HIT PARADE: With their 9 hits last night, the Astros have tied the club record for hits in 4 consecutive games with 66, which has been done one other time (Aug. 23-26, 1975)…on Monday night, the Astros tallied 18 hits and in the process set club records for hits in two consecutive and three consecutive games…in that span, they tallied a record 43 hits in 2 games (8/26-27) and a record 57 hits over 3 games 8/26-28)… HOU’s 57 hits over that 3-game span were the most in the Majors since BOS recorded 60 hits over 3 games, 8/14-16 of 2015…source: Elias.

HOW THE WEST WAS WON: With wins last night by HOU and TEX and the loss by SEA, there is now virtually a 3-way tie for 1st place in the AL West…technically, the Astros (76-58, .567) are .001 pct. point behind the Rangers and Mariners (75-57, .568), both of whom have played 2 less games than HOU… the Astros have won the AL West in 5 of the last 6 seasons.

ROAD WARRIORS: The Astros are 41-27 (.603) on the road this season, which ranks 2nd in the AL…the Astros have not lost a road series since dropping 2 of 3 games at Dodger Stadium, 6/23-25…since that weekend, they have had 11 road series, winning 9 and tying 2 (incl. current series)…they are 21-10 (.677) on the road in that span.

LAST START – 8/25 AT DET: on Friday in Detroit, tossed 7.0 scoreless and hitless innings while striking out 6 batters and working around 5 walks and a HBP…lifted after tossing 114 pitches, which tied a career high (last reached on May 30, 2022 at OAK). Friday’s start was his 2nd hitless start of the season and the 3rd of his career…Valdez’s hitless starts this season were 9.0-inning and 7.0-inning starts…he also had a 6.0-inning hitless start on July 24, 2021 vs. TEX…is just the 2nd Astro to have 3 hitless starts of 6.0+ innings in club history, joining RHP Don Wilson, who also had 3 of such starts. is the only pitcher in club history to post 2 hitless starts of 7.0+ innings in a single season… is also just the 6th Major Leaguer to do so and the first since RHP Max Scherzer in 2015.

VS. BOS: Valdez has faced the Red Sox 4 times in the regular season and 2 more times in the postseason…he’s been great in those outings, posting a 3-1 record and a 1.95 ERA (6ER/27.2IP) in those 6 outings combined. last pitched against the Red Sox in Game 5 of the 2021 ALCS, in which he worked 8.0 innings of 1-run ball at Fenway Park in the Astros 9-1 victory…the Astros would win that series in six games.


STATE OF THE SOX: The Red Sox have lost 4 of their last 5 games and 6 of their last 9. The Sox are 13-17 in their last 30 games, beginning 7/29, after going an MLB-best 16-5 from 6/30-7/28. At 69-64 (.519), Boston is tied with Arizona and Minnesota for MLB’s 13th-best record.

SLUGGING SOX: The Red Sox have homered in each of their last 18 games (31 total HR), the 4th-longest streak in franchise history (previous: 19 games, 8-7-30/2019). BOS is the 6th team this season to homer in as many as 18 consecutive games, joining ATL (28 G), CIN (22), TB (22), LAA (19), and MIN (18). Boston has hit 25 HR in their last 13 games since 8/17, tied with SEA for 2nd-most in MLB in that span (PHI-30). The Sox have homered in 26 of their 27 August games, after homering in only 16 of their previous 28 games.

SERIES BUSINESS: The Red Sox have lost their 2nd consecutive series, falling to 22-18-3 in series play… They’ve matched their series win total from 2022 (22-24-6). They’ve lost back-to-back home series after going 6-1-0 in their previous 7 dating back to the start of July.

HOME COOKING: Today marks the final game of Boston’s 6-game homestand against LAD (82-49) and HOU (76-58). The Red Sox are 1-4 on the current homestand and 6-9 in 15 home games during August after going 13-5 in their previous 18 home games. At home, the Sox lead the majors in AVG (.284)… They also rank 2nd in OBP (.350), 3rd in OPS (.815), and 4th in SLG (.465).

SOX & ASTROS: Today marks the Red Sox and Astros’ 7th meeting in a 10-day span from 8/21-30. BOS and HOU split a 4-game series in Houston last week…Boston lost the first 2 games, but won the last 2. The Sox are 7-6 in their last 13 games vs. HOU, beginning 6/10/21, including 3-3 at home in that span.

ON THE OFFENSIVE: The Red Sox lead MLB in doubles (288)… Among AL teams, they rank 2nd in AVG (.265), OPB (.331), and XBH (462), and rank 3rd in SLG (.439) and OPS (.770). The Sox have recorded double-digit hits in 9 of their last 13 games, collecting at least 9 hits in 11 of those 13.

RISPY BUSINESS: With RISP, Boston ranks 2nd in MLB in hits (329), and ranks 4th in AVG (.280) and 5th in OBP (.355). With RISP and 0 or 1 out, they own an AL-best .300 AVG. BOS has gone 4-for-21 (.190 AVG) with RISP in their last 3 games, compared to 19-for-54 (.352) in the previous 4.

HIGH FIVE: The Red Sox are 56-9 (.862) when scoring 5+ runs, the 2nd-best record in MLB behind SEA (56-8, .875). They’ve scored fewer than 5 runs in 3 of their last 5 games, after doing so in just 3 of their previous 11. Since 6/14, the Sox are 29-3 when scoring 5+ runs.

2023 6-6 3.65 25 17 101.0 41 15 25 101 1.09 .225
CAREER 9-13 4.64 47 30 180.1 93 28 56 180 1.26 .249

Held LAD scoreless through 5.0 IP on Friday, then allowed 2 runs in the 6th inning (4 H, BB, 7 SO). Leads Red Sox starters in ERA…Reached 100.0 IP for the 1st time in his career. Has a 3.32 ERA in his last 12 starts since 6/20 (24 ER/65.1 IP). Allowed 1 run over 6.0 IP in his lone start vs. HOU on 8/2/22. Owns a 2.06 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and .194 opponent AVG on the road (56.2 IP), compared to a 5.68 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and .260 opponent AVG at home (44.1 IP). Ranks in MLB’s 75th percentile or higher in chase rate (87th), walk rate (84th), fastball spin (91st), and expected opponent average (85th).

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