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Red Sox infielder carried off the field by manager John Farrell

Red Sox infielder carried off the field by manager John Farrell

Boston opens its best-of-five ALDS at Houston on Thursday with a lot of familiar names to anyone who's hung around Haley Toyota Field for Salem Red Sox games the past few years.

But Verlander tossed just 20 pitches total in the fifth and sixth, and by the time right-hander Chris Devenski entered in relief in the seventh the Astros held a commanding five-run lead. We're about to find out.

The series heads back to New England for game three.

One thing is for sure: The road will not be easy. Led by career years from center fielder George Springer and MVP candidate Jose Altuve, the Astros led the Major League Baseball in slugging percentage, OPS, on-base percentage, batting average, RBI and runs scored. Could this be the year Boston hoists another World Series trophy?

"It's a battle of the best of the best, " Houston's Carlos Beltran said. Kluber went 2-0 during the regular season against NY, but didn't face slugger Aaron Judge, who was slumping both times the teams met. Judge struck out all four times Thursday after homering in the AL wild-card win. In fact, Houston was just 21-24 against southpaws. David Price is going to be huge for the Boston Red Sox in the postseason.

An impassioned competitor, Sale will be pitching in Game 1 on 7-days rest - a full week. Pablo Sandoval hit three home runs (two versus Verlander) in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series. He's 2-8 with a 5.54 in his career there. Only Benintendi shined (3 for 9, double, home run).

Houston will counter with its pitching rotation which was boosted by the acquisition of Justin Verlander midseason.

Verlander is on a roll since his trade to Houston (5-0, 1.06 ERA). Pomeranz was 17-6 with a 3.32 ERA while Keuchel went 14-5 with a 2.90 ERA despite missing a big chunk of the season with injuries.

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Liverpool also remain unbeaten having picked up two draws in the opening fixtures, but they are still favoured to progress. The Frenchman went down after just 19 minutes of United's Champions League Group Stage opener against Basel .

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Georgia also traveled senior place-kicker David Marvin, to go with place-kicker Rodrigo Blankenship and punter Cameron Nizialek. The Bulldogs added David Marvin's 19-yard field goal to cap the day's scoring when the crowd had dwindled to maybe 25,000.

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David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, said Rauner should consider running in the gubernatorial primary as a Democrat. The restrictions were signed into law previous year by Vice President Mike Pence, then the governor of Indiana.

Sandy Leon had two hits and drove in a run and Rafael Devers added an RBI for the AL East champs.

It's no secret how tough Houston's lineup has been all year. While the 104-win Dodgers and 102-win Indians appear to be on a collision course to face one another in this year's Fall Classic, both teams may have already played their best baseball this season.

Jose Altuve once again won the batting title with a.346 batting average. He allowed seven earned runs just once.

With the playoff schedule being released, an interesting new development came to light.

There are many similarities between the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros. Houston manager A.J. Hinch is in postseason for second time after leading Astros to 2015 playoffs in first year with team. The Sox had 10 walk-off wins this year, and went an astonishing 15-3 in extra inning games.

When Price returned from his latest malady in mid-September, the Red Sox made a decision to try something different. The left-hander led the majors with 308 strikeouts and was the first pitcher in the AL to fan 300 batters since Pedro Martinez in 1999. Eduardo Nunez acquired midseason by the Red Sox is versatile as he can play nearly anywhere in the infield, but he too has been nagged by a sprained right knee ligament. But that's still a long ways away.

Of course, no conversation about a left-handed ace struggling in the playoffs would be complete without mention of Clayton Kershaw. "I enjoy starting. I still think I'm a starter".

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