As North America fell in love with the history and hype of the Yankees and Red Sox in their ALDS, the Astros felt like they were the undercard as they blew by the Tribe. But you shouldn't look past them, the Astros are really good.
On a 48-degree night that left both aces struggling to find the plate - and rookie Red Sox manager Alex Cora struggling to control his temper - Carlos Correa fisted a single into left field to break a sixth-inning tie and give the defending World Series champions their fifth straight postseason victory.
The Red Sox certainly feel they are better equipped than the team that lost the ALDS to the Astros in four last season. For the host Astros, ace Justin Verlander gets the nod.
BOSTON - The Red Sox hope home-field advantage makes a difference after consecutive Division Series eliminations.
And the Astros could have.
An infielder who spent 14 years with six big league teams, Cora was in Houston for one year before the Red Sox made him the first minority manager in franchise history - and one of its youngest, too. Sale loaded the bases with two walks and a hit-by-pitch before giving up a two-run single to George Springer that put the Astros on top 2-0.
A big reason for that is the acquisition of DH J.D. Martinez, who didn't land in New England by accident. He hit 45 homers past year, when he was traded from the Tigers to Diamondbacks and was 14th in MVP voting despite playing just 62 games in the NL.
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"I think we're at the point now where there's no holding back". "We're better because of what happened previous year".
"(I'm) trying to remember some things that I told him that I wish I wouldn't have", Hinch said Wednesday when the Astros worked out for the first time since learning their next opponent. "And then I just - after that it was I thank God, gave me another opportunity and put me in a good situation with Detroit", Martinez said.
"He went and completely revamped his swing that offseason, and saw immediate dividends", Verlander said.
Red Sox MVP candidate J.D. Martinez is also in his first year with Boston, and his route also came via Houston, but not directly and not almost as smoothly.
"I haven't felt it today at all doing anything", Moreland said. "I don't know, probably not". Who knows where I would have been?
Game 1 of the ALCS is tomorrow at Fenway Park in the best-of-seven series. Altuve added another homer in the fifth.
"We're very fortunate to have a guy in A.C., who is not very far removed from playing the game, which definitely helps", Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes said. He's ready to go, and he isn't holding anything back with a trip to the World Series on the line. No matter hard you throw, Major League Baseball hitters can time it up, especially if they know it's coming. "He's obviously one of the best around, and really good in the postseason".