Game 3 of the ALCS between the Red Sox and the Astros looked awfully similar to Game 2. Thanks to another early implosion from Houston’s starting pitcher, Boston cruised to an easy victory on Monday night at Fenway Park. Boston plated six runs in the second inning – including a Kyle Schwarber grand slam – on their way to a 12-3 rout in Game 3.
Now, the Red Sox are in the driver’s seat. Boston has a 2-1 series lead with two more home games on the horizon, which means there is a very real possibility that this series won’t even make it back to Houston for a Game 6. Alex Cora got six strong innings out of starter Eduardo Rodriguez on Monday night, which is more innings than the Astros have gotten out of their three starters combined through the first three games of the series. Jose Urquidy couldn’t even get six outs in his disastrous outing last night.
The momentum is clearly with the Red Sox right now, but momentum can swing in a hurry in the postseason. The Red Sox are listed as -127 moneyline favorites to win Tuesday’s Game 4 behind right-hander Nick Pivetta. The Astros, meanwhile, are now +117 underdogs facing yet another uncertain pitching situation.
Astros vs. Red Sox Betting Odds
Over 10 runs (-113)
Boston Red Sox
Under 10 runs (-107)
At this point, Dusty Baker needs to find a pitcher capable of giving him some innings. Houston was dealt a major blow when ace Lance McCullers Jr. was left off the ALCS roster with a forearm strain, and he has been sorely missed. Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, and Urquidy have combined to allow 12 earned runs in just 5.1 combined innings of work through the first three games.
Baker said after Game 3 that Zack Greinke will get the ball to start Game 4. Greinke was a key member of the 2019 Astros side that advanced to the World Series, but his performance dropped off dramatically this season. Greinke finished 11-6 with a 4.16 ERA during the regular seasno, but his performance regressed more with each passing month. He posted an ERA of 12 in a couple of awful starts in August before a middling outing in his final regular-season appearance against Oakland on October 3.
Greinke has pitched just once in this postseason, which was a scoreless inning of relief in Game 3 of the ALDS against the White Sox. He hasn’t thrown more than 30 pitches in a game since August 19, so there’s no telling what kind of length he’ll be able to give Houston tonight. It’s looking very likely that Greinke will pitch an inning or two before giving way to Cristian Javier, who will likely be tasked with handling the bulk innings.
Javier has been a useful weapon for Houston. The right-hander hasn’t allowed a run in 4.2 innings of work in this postseason, including two innings of scoreless relief with four strikeouts against these Red Sox in the Astros’ Game 1 victory. During the regular season, the fireballing right-hander finished with a 3.55 ERA with over 11 strikeouts per nine innings while spending most of the year serving in long relief. Control has been an issue for Javier, as he posted an unsightly walk rate north of 12 percent during the regular year.
It will be crucial for the Astros’ offense to get on the board early in this one. Houston has fallen into early 9-0 holes in each of the last two games, which has essentially deflated what was baseball’s most potent offense during the regular season. Doing some early damage against Nick Pivetta may go a long way toward helping the Astros get back into the series.
The Red Sox can do no wrong right now. It’s hard to imagine an offense looking more locked-in than Boston has over the last couple of games. Boston smashed another four home runs in Monday’s 12-3 drubbing of the Astros, including Schwarber’s aforementioned grand slam. The Red Sox are just the second team in the history of the MLB postseason to hit at least three grand slams in one playoff series.
The team’s in-form offense means Alex Cora has a bit of extra leeway when it comes to his pitching staff. The team will now turn to Pivetta with a 2-1 series lead in their back pocket. Pivetta has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen since the postseason began. That said, he has given Boston some length. Pivetta logged at least four innings of work in both of his appearances against Tampa Bay in the ALDS, including a stellar scoreless appearance in the Red Sox’ extra-innings victory in Game 3 of that series.
During the season, the right-hander went 9-8 with a 4.53 ERA in 31 games, including 30 starts. Pivetta has shown the ability to miss bats (26.5 percent Ks), but hard hits have been an issue for him. Pivetta yielded a barrel rate of 8.2 percent during the season, and he was taken deep 24 times in those 31 outings. The former Phillie did fare well in his lone start against Houston, however, as he held the Astros to just two runs on three hits in six innings in an eventual 2-1 loss at Minute Maid Park back on June 2.
The Red Sox’ bullpen should be fresh thanks to Rodriguez’s solid effort in Game 3. So, if Pivetta struggles, Cora will still have his most trustworthy relief options available for this one.
Astros vs. Red Sox MLB Pick
If you’ve been betting the overs on games involving the Astros and/or the Red Sox, you’ve been doing pretty well since the postseason began. The “over” is 6-1 in Houston’s seven postseason games to this point, while the “over” is 6-1-1 in games involving the Red Sox. All three games of this series have gone over their projected totals, as well.
Oddsmakers have adjusted for Game 4. The over/under for this one is set at 10 runs, which is easily the highest mark we’ve seen thus far. It’s interesting to note the betting trends ahead of this one. 61 percent of the bets placed on the total have come in on the over, while a whopping 87 percent of the money has come in on the under. Sharp bettors see the under as a good value opportunity given the -107 odds. The over, meanwhile, is juiced at -113.
I still think the over is the play. This series features arguably the two best offensive teams in baseball, and both are operating at full strength. We’re also toward the back end of each team’s starting rotation. There is no telling what Greinke will be able to give the Astros at this point, so it’s hard to have too much faith him in to slow down what has been a red-hot Red Sox lineup. I also think Houston can inflict some damage against Pivetta, who has been one of the Sox’ most hittable starters all year long.
The over on 10 runs is still the way to go in Game 4.
Over/Under: Over 10 runs (-113), Under 10 runs (-107)
Prediction: Over 10 runs (-113)
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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