The August pick-up of Justin Verlander has worked out well for the Houston Astros, as the hosts defeated the Boston Red Sox 8-2 in the first game of the American League Divisional Series on Thursday.
Verlander was strong in his first American League Play-off start for Houston, as the former Detroit ace went the first six innings giving up two earned runs on six hits, allowing two walks and striking out three batters for the game.
An Astros infielder joined legendary company on Thursday, as Jose Altuve blasted three home runs for the game.
This was just the 10th time in Major League history that a player had hit three home runs in a post-season game, and the first since Pablo Sandoval of the San Francisco Giants in 2012 World Series. Curiously, it was Verlander who gave up two of those home runs to Sandoval.
Meanwhile, Chris Sale struggled in his first ever post-season start. The Boston ace threw for 5+ innings giving up seven runs on nine hits, allowing a walk and striking out six batters for the contest.
The Red Sox are 751.00 to win the American League title, with the Astros 1.57 and the Cleveland Indians 751.00.
Friday the National League Divisional Series gets under way, with Kyle Hendricks and the Chicago Cubs squaring off against Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals.
The decision to start Hendricks speaks volumes as to the struggles that both Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta have had this season. Chicago is still good enough to repeat, but faces a useful Washington side.
Over in Los Angeles the Dodgers send out Clayton Kershaw against Taijuan Walker of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Widely considered the best pitcher in the game, Kershaw has not been dominant in the post-season and it will be fascinating to see if he can step it up this year.
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