Astros vs Red Sox

Astros vs Red Sox : We pointed out one under-the-radar thing to watch for each of the Division Series, something that might not jump out in the team or individual stats, but would be fun to watch. And they proved to be important pieces of each matchup.Now it’s time to do the same for the Championship Series in each league.

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MLB Playoffs
Astros vs Red Sox
Date : Saturday, October 13
Time : 8:09 Pm Et

Astros vs Red Sox

The Red Sox and Astros were the two best teams in the league all year, so let’s not waste time talking about their Cy Young candidates (Chris Sale and Justin Verlander), their MVP candidates (Mookie Betts and Alex Bregman), or their high-powered offenses and power pitching staffs.

Something that might prove to be a difference maker is the Red Sox’s running game. They were third in the majors in stolen bases this season, and one of only two teams with a success rate better than 80 percent (Angels). And just looking at the Astros from a team level for the entire season won’t tell the story of their ability to control the running game.

They were middle of the pack during the regular season in throwing out would-be basestealers, but they acquired Martin Maldonado at the deadline in July, and he’ll have a major impact on that. Before that trade, the Astros’ catching duties were split between Brian McCann and Max Stassi, neither of whom threw out 25 percent of runners attempting to steal (the MLB average was 28 percent).

So will the Red Sox take advantage of McCann when he’s behind the plate? Or can they steal a base in a big spot against Maldonado, who was second in the majors this year by throwing out more than 45 percent of runners attempting to steal?

Despite McCann’s history, he’s not the slugger he once was (career-low .339 slugging percentage this season), so he and Maldonado will play based on matchups, and the right-handed hitting Maldonado will likely get more chances with the Red Sox likely to start a lefty in four of the seven matchups.

Which means that Maldonado will likely be behind the plate when Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are pitching for the Astros — runners were successful on 14 of 19 attempts with Cole on the mound, but opponents were only 3 for 7 all season against Verlander. And in 315 innings behind the plate since joining the Astros, Maldonado has thrown out five of eight.

The 2018 American League Championship Series features teams with the two best records in baseball, with the defending World Series champion Houston Astros facing off with the best-record-in-baseball Boston Red Sox.

The series begins Saturday at Fenway Park in Boston (8:09 p.m. ET, TBS).

Astros vs. Red Sox is a rematch of last year’s AL Division Series, won by the Astros in four games. That was the only previous playoff matchup between the two teams.

The Red Sox (108) and Astros (103) set franchise records for wins in 2018, and their 211 combined victories are tied with the 2001 ALCS (Mariners-Yankees) for the second-most in a single postseason series, trailing only the 1998 World Series (Yankees-Padres, 212).