LEADING OFF: Verlander-Sale in ALCS, Brews try for 2-0 lead

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The Red Sox face the Houston Astros in Game 1 of baseball's American League Championship on Saturday.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who used to be the bench coach for the Astros, has said so himself.

Josh Reddick hit a solo homer leading off the ninth, and Yuli Gurriel curled a three-run shot into the front row beyond the Pesky Pole to clinch it.

They will get their wish in games 1 and 2 at Fenway Park in the first league-championship series to feature two teams with at least 103 victories in the regular season.

One of the flashpoints of the ALDS was the use of the song "New York, New York", right at the center of a lot of mutual Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees trolling.

Well, as the Astros move to the next stop in their defence of the thrilling seven-game win over the Dodgers last fall, they are in the main event now. After playing part time the next two years - hitting 18 homers with 91 RBIs in 199 games - he was 26 years old and batting.167 in the spring of 2014 when the Astros released him, preferring to give the at-bats to top prospect George Springer. In the case of the Red Sox, underdog status. The ace vs. ace matchup has made the over-under for Game 1 just seven runs.

Andrew Benintendi worked the count full before looking at a 3-2 pitch that appeared to catch the edge of the zone for the third out.

Fenway Park showing Boston Red Sox players and manager Alex Cora Wednesday Oct. 10 2018 in Boston. Game 1 of the baseball American League Championship Series between the Red Sox and the Houston Astro
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"It's a big difference to be able start at home against a good team", Holt said.

NY hitters went just 2-for-30 against Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree and Joe Kelly in the ALDS. Correa's RBI single on a 100 miles per hour from Kelly, who took the loss, put the Astros ahead 3-2. Brandon Workman allowed one. They walked six and fanned eight. He matched Don Larsen from 1955-57 as the only pitchers to allow nine hits over a span of four-postseason starts, according to STATS.

From Cy Young candidates such as Verlander and Game 2 starter Gerrit Cole, to MVP possibility Bregman (and the guy who won the award a year ago, Jose Altuve) to a bullpen anchored by former Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna, the Astros are indeed a juggernaut.

The 2018 All-Star then gave up two singles and a walk to start the fourth and was removed for reliever Lance Lynn.

Boston catcher Christian Vazquez hit second-base umpire Joe West on his chest with a throw when Jake Marisnick stole second in the eighth.

Verlander, who was 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA in the regular season, is 12-6 with a 3.08 ERA lifetime in the postseason, including 12-2 in the LDS and LCS. Cora insisted that he had faith in Price, and he told the 2012 AL Cy Young victor as much after the Red Sox eliminated the Yankees in the previous round. "We've still got time to see where we're at with him". In the regular season, he led the AL with 290 strikeouts, and he also pitched to a 2.52 ERA in 214 innings.

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