Friday night, the Houston Astros have the chance to clinch their third AL pennant in the last five seasons, but they'll have to go through a Boston Red Sox team that has shown great mettle this postseason. The Astros have a 3-2 series lead and only have to win one home game to advance, but the Red Sox are feisty. Also, we've seen the Astros lose Games 6 and 7 at home before, right? The 2019 World Series is when.
As has been and will continue to be the case, I'm doing the game picks over on SportsLine. I've gone 17-9-1 thus far in the playoffs -- and that was after an 0-1-1 (moneyline and over/under pick) start in the AL Wild Card Game -- so hop on over there and subscribe.
In this space, we'll focus on props, the over/under and other fun.
All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
Over 8.5, -115
The over has been gold in this series. In the last three games, one of the two high-powered offenses was shut down each time and the winning team still piled on enough offense to win the over. In fact, we could loop in Game 2 as well, because the Astros only had three runs before two meaningless ninth-inning homers.
This over is lower than the others (once we needed over 10 and it still hit), too. I suspect that's because of Nathan Eovaldi pitching. He's good, but is he really the knockout punch needed to take the under? He gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings last time against the Astros. He had a 3.75 regular-season ERA.
Also, with the Red Sox needing to win two games in order to stay alive, I suspect an early Astros rally would be the impetus for a quick hook from Alex Cora. Eovaldi better be dealing or he's not going to last very long.
The other side of this is simple. Astros starter Luis Garcia has allowed five runs in each of his playoff starts this year, one lasting 2 2/3 and one lasting just an inning-plus. It wouldn't be surprising to see another big Red Sox rally early in the game.
The Astros bullpen has enough quality pieces that will be rested enough to survive a very short Garcia start and it's entirely possible that Eovaldi and, say, Tanner Houck could hold down the Astros offense. It's just that there are so many great hitters here on both teams that even just one side's pitching faltering means we'd hit the over, just as was the case in Games 2-5.
BONUS: Jose Altuve homers, +400
Only two players have ever hit more playoff home runs than the diminutive-yet-powerful Altuve and they both played in a lot more postseason games than Altuve has to this point. We know he's good with the big moment. Many of his playoff homers were clutch. His two-run shot in the sixth inning of Game 1 tied things up. In Game 4, the Astros were six outs away from being down 3-1 in the series and he hit a game-tying bomb to lead off the eighth. Remember, he walked off the 2019 ALCS, too.
Also, there's this: In Altuve's career against Eovaldi, he's 6 for 19 with a double and three home runs.
It's tough to nail exactly one player to homer in a given game, obviously, but there's great history here for an Altuve pick.