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.

 

Kershaw-Sale anything but a pitcher’s duel

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World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted a sub-2.92 ERA. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.

And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.

Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.

Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.

The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.