But this time, the series victor advances and the loser goes home. They can replace Nunez on their playoff roster, but if they do that they cannot bring him back for a potential AL Championship Series.
It would make sense to chalk up Sale's issues to October nerves if it wasn't a continuation of his late-season fade.
Verlander (15-8, 3.36) is a flawless 5-0 since becoming an Astro, allowing just four runs in 34 innings of work.
Friday's matchup between Pomeranz and Keuchel features two men who would likely be the staff ace on most other teams (and Keuchel, a former Cy Young victor, was the Astros ace until Verlander arrived).
Sale (17-8, 2.90 ERA) came to Beantown this year after languishing outside of the playoffs for seven years with the Chicago White Sox.
I believe Rick Porcello will get the game 3 start over Price and Fister. Kluber went 2-0 during the regular season against NY, but didn't face slugger Aaron Judge, who was slumping both times the teams met. Judge struck out all four times Thursday after homering in the AL wild-card win. The Red Sox tied it up by scoring a run each in the second and fourth innings before Marwin Gonzalez lined a two-run double in the fourth for a 4-2 lead.
Altuve by himself outdid the Red Sox, outdid nearly all others who have played baseball in October.
The Astros led the major leagues in just about every single offensive category. He also joined Adam Kennedy of the Anaheim Angels (in the 2002 American League Championship Series) as the only second basemen with a three-homer game in the postseason. It was just the second time in his eight-year career that the potential Cy Young Award victor had given up six extra-base hits. Jose Altuve - batting champion, MVP favorite and now, finally, postseason hero - is used to being underappreciated. He finished second in the majors with 204 hits and sixth with a.410 on-base percentage. He's a joke. The dude, he said he never hit three homers in a game in his life.
Springer hit 34 homers despite missing time with an injury. Carlos Correa has been back, but has been slumping since his return. His slider was off, among other issues, and he was tagged for back-to-back home runs in the first inning. The Astros were just as impressive on the mound with veteran Justin Verlander allowing both runs on six hits and two free passes through six innings of work to get the win. He did strike out six, but he allowed three home runs. With the Red Sox carrying question marks in the rotation, it's easy to imagine the Astros disposing of them easily if the bats continue on this pace.
Altuve was already doing things few players had ever done.
Eduardo Nunez started at designated hitter in Game 1 over slugger Hanley Ramirez in part because he was 6 for 18 in his career against Verlander coming into the game. This is absolutely a World Series caliber team. That's unlikely. But the offense should hit the ball an bad lot, and it should definitely be a fun series for Astros fans to watch.