American League Championship Series Game 6 Preview, Odds, and Pick: Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros

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Needless to say, the 2021 American League Championship Series has seen no shortage of unexpected twists and turns. The Astros took a 1-0 lead a week ago tonight before the Red Sox stormed their way to back-to-back wins in Games 2 and 3. Boston looked unbeatable after a 12-3 romp of Houston in Game 3, but momentum shifted quickly. The Astros stormed back to claim Games 4 and 5 at Fenway Park, which means Houston is just one win away from their third World Series appearance in the last five years.

The series will shift back to H-Town on Friday night for Game 6. We’ll have a rematch of Game 2, with Nathan Eovaldi set to toe the rubber for the Red Sox against Astros rookie Luis Garcia. Eovaldi got the better of Garcia the last time these two squared off, but a lot has changed since then. Oddsmakers at BetOnline have the Astros listed as slight -110 favorites to clinch the series at home on Friday night in a game with an over/under of nine runs.

Red Sox vs. Astros Betting Odds

Teams Runline Moneyline Total
Boston Red Sox +1.5 (-195) +100 Over 9 runs (+100)
Houston Astros -1.5 (+170) -110 Under 9 runs (-120)

Red Sox

The Red Sox’ offense looked like it couldn’t be stopped in Games 2 and 3, but the bats have suddenly gone quiet. Boston has mustered just three total runs in their last two games, and they’re suddenly facing elimination. Boston is 1-0 in elimination games so far this season after throttling the Yankees in the Wild Card Game, but a trip to Minute Maid Park with their backs against the wall will be an entirely unique challenge.

Of course, the Sox have the guy they want on the hill. Eovaldi was solid in Game 2, holding Houston to three runs on five hits with three strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work. He didn’t endure too much stress after the Red Sox’ bats staked him to an early 9-0 lead in that one, but he’ll be an interesting X-factor to watch in Game 6. Eovaldi came out of the bullpen for Boston back in Game 4, when he was tagged for four earned runs on a couple of hits in just 2/3 of an inning of action.

Alex Cora decided to use Eovaldi out of the pen in the ninth inning that night on what would have been his normal bullpen day. However, this is a strategy that hasn’t worked too well for other teams in this very postseason. The Dodgers have been victimized by it on a couple of different occasions. Max Scherzer said he had a “dead arm” in Game 2 of the NLCS after pitching an inning in relief in Game 5 of the NLDS. A couple of games later, Julio Urias was clearly not at his best just a couple of days after taking the mound in a rare relief appearance in Game 2 against Atlanta.

Eovaldi says he’s ready to go, but we’ll see how effective he’ll be. The Astros’ lineup has seen him twice already in this series, and he wasn’t nearly as sharp as usual in his aforementioned relief outing. Eovaldi uncharacteristically issued two walks out of the bullpen, which is quite rare for a pitcher that posted a walk rate of just 4.6 percent during the season. Don’t be surprised if Houston’s hitters take a more patient approach than they did in Game 2 when they were forced to be more aggressive after falling way behind early in the game.

Eovaldi also struggled in his lone regular-season appearance against Houston. The Astros crushed him for five runs on 11 hits with three walks allowed in an 8-3 Boston loss back on June 9. The three walks allowed were tied for the most in a start by the right-hander all season.

Astros

The Astros are suddenly back in the driver’s seat after falling behind 2-1 earlier in the series. Houston’s bats were silent in Games 2 and 3, but they came alive in Games 4 and 5. The Astros exploded for nine runs in Game 4, eight of which came in the eighth inning or later. Houston led Game 5 wire-to-wire thanks in part to another late surge. Eight of the Astros’ nine runs on Wednesday afternoon were scored in the sixth inning or later.

Dusty Baker also got a much-needed dominant start out of Framber Valdez in that one. The lefty turned in arguably the best pitching performance we’ve seen in the entire postseason, holding Boston’s red-hot lineup to just a run on three hits in eight impeccable innings of work. Houston’s starting pitching had been absolutely ravaged through the first four games of the series, which proved to be quite taxing on the team’s bullpen. In Game 5, Ryan Pressly was the only reliever that got into the game, and he threw 17 stress-free pitches in a perfect ninth to close it out.

So, we’ll see how the Astros approach this one from a pitching perspective. They have a series lead, but they’re not out of the woods yet. Baker announced Thursday that Luis Garcia will get the ball for this one after his disastrous showing back in Game 2. The right-hander allowed five runs on two hits in just one inning of work, including a first-inning grand slam to Red Sox slugger JD Martinez. Garcia wound up leaving the game without having recorded an out in the second inning with an apparent knee injury, but he’s evidently good to go tonight.

Garcia was one of the Astros’ most reliable starters all year long, but he has struggled to begin the postseason. The White Sox also knocked him around for five runs on five hits in just 2.2 innings in Game 3 of the Division Series. On the season, however, the burly 24-year-old went 11-8 with a respectable 3.30 ERA in 30 total appearances, including 28 starts. That included an outstanding outing at Minute Maid against these Red Sox on June 1. Boston mustered just one run on five hits in seven innings against Houston’s first-year starter.

It’s fair to wonder whether the bright lights of October are just too bright for Garcia given his lack of experience, but it’s safe to expect a better effort out of him tonight. One key will be limiting walks. Garcia has issued free passes to three hitters in each of his first two playoff starts, which ultimately cost him dearly in both outings. Control was an issue for him in the minor leagues, but he finished the regular season with a walk rate of just 7.9 percent.

Red Sox vs. Astros MLB Pick

The over/under of nine runs is the lowest we’ve seen in this series in a few games, but with good reason. Both teams have capable starters taking the mound, and Minute Maid Park isn’t nearly as hitter-friendly as Fenway. The “over” has been an incredibly profitable bet for both of these teams in the postseason, but I’m not enthralled with that bet in this one.

I just think this is Houston’s game to lose. Garcia was awful in Game 2, but I do think he’ll turn in a better start tonight. The Red Sox’ hitters have barely seen him, as well, which could play into his hands. This will be the Astros’ third look at Eovaldi in this series alone, and it’s quite possible that Houston’s bats will be ready to get to him early. I think the Astros’ -110 moneyline odds are very attractive. They’ll close things out in Game 6.

Pick: Astros
Odds: -110
$100 Could Win You...$19

Red Sox vs. Astros Betting Recap:

  • Oddsmaker: BetOnline
  • Moneylines: Red Sox +100, Astros -110
  • Runlines: Red Sox +1.5 (-195), Astros -1.5 (+170)
  • Over/Under: Over 9 runs (+100), Under 9 runs (-120)
  • Prediction: Astros -110
Taylor Smith

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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