Justin Verlander
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Lineups for ALCS Game 1

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The American League Championship Series is about to kick off at Fenway Park this evening, and both the Astros and Red Sox will stick with tried-and-true lineups as they look to gain an early lead in the series. The Astros are 2-1 at Fenway Park this year and have managed to score at least five runs in every game they’ve played on Boston’s turf, though Game 1 starter Justin Verlander hasn’t stepped foot in Fenway since June 2017 (and got torched in an 11-3 loss when he did so).

Here are the lineups:

Astros

1. George Springer (R) CF
2. Jose Altuve (R) 2B
3. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
4. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
5. Tyler White (R) DH
6. Marwin Gonzalez (S) LF
7. Carlos Correa (R) SS
8. Martin Maldonado (R) C
9. Josh Reddick (L) RF

Justin Verlander RHP

The Astros made a few key roster changes in advance of the ALCS. Right-handed reliever Will Harris and rookie outfielder Myles Straw were removed from the postseason roster and replaced by right-handers Joe Smith and Hector Rondon. Smith and Rondon are just two of five pitchers who have yet to be utilized in the season, and it’s expected that manager A.J. Hinch will utilize a fresh batch of arms — including relievers Josh James and Tony Sipp and right-handed starter Charlie Morton — as the team prepares to go up against the AL East champs this weekend.

For Game 1, Tyler White will step into the DH role once again. Maldonado is set up behind the plate for Verlander’s start, and MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart notes that he’ll likely be pegged for Gerrit Cole‘s start as well, while Brian McCann is expected to catch Dallas Keuchel.

Red Sox

1. Mookie Betts (R) RF
2. Andrew Benintendi (L) LF
3. J.D. Martinez (R) DH
4. Xander Bogaerts (R) SS
5. Steve Pearce (R) 1B
6. Brock Holt (L) 2B
7. Eduardo Núñez (R) 3B
8. Jackie Bradley, Jr. (L) CF
9. Sandy Leon (S) C

Chris Sale LHP

The Red Sox will roll out the same roster they used during the ALDS, with the exception of right-hander Steven Wright, who was removed from the postseason roster last Saturday with a knee injury and is now ineligible to pitch in the ALCS. He will continue to be replaced by right-hander Heath Hembree. First baseman Mitch Moreland, meanwhile, will rejoin the team after leaving Game 2 of the Division series with a bout of right hamstring tightness, though he’s likely to see limited playing time off the bench until he makes a full recovery.

On Saturday, the Red Sox shifted the heart of the order from Pearce-Martinez-Bogaerts to Martinez-Bogaerts-Pearce. Holt will take over for Ian Kinsler at second base, while Sandy Leon will catch Sale’s first start of the ALCS.

Game 1 is scheduled to begin at 8:09 PM EDT.

 

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.