Red Sox hope to home-field ad­van­tage makes dif­fer­ence

Lethbridge Herald - - HERALD SPORTS TOP STORIES -

The Red Sox hope home-field ad­van­tage makes a dif­fer­ence af­ter con­sec­u­tive Di­vi­sion Se­ries elim­i­na­tions.

Bos­ton be­gan the post­sea­son 0-2 on the road at Cleve­land in 2016 and again at Hous­ton last year.

By win­ning a club-record 108 games this sea­son, the Red Sox en­sured home-field ad­van­tage through the post-sea­son.

They split at home against the Yan­kees last week­end, swept a pair of games in New York to ad­vance and open the AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries against the World Se­ries cham­pion Astros on Satur­day night.

Chris Sale starts for the Red Sox and Justin Ver­lan­der for the Astros. Sale gave up seven runs in last year’s open­ing 8-2 loss to Hous­ton, in­clud­ing two home runs by Jose Al­tuve and by Alex Breg­man.

Sale made a rare re­lief ap­pear­ance in Game 4 at Fen­way Park, re­plac­ing Rick Por­cello to start the fourth in­ning with Bos­ton trail­ing 2-1. Af­ter An­drew Ben­in­tendi’s tworun homer put the Red Sox ahead, Sale al­lowed Breg­man’s ty­ing home run lead­ing off the eighth and a one-out sin­gle to Evan Gat­tis, who gave Hous­ton the lead for good when he scored on Josh Red­dick’s sin­gle against Craig Kim­brel.

“Go­ing through that the last two years helped,” Brock Holt. “We’re bet­ter be­cause of what hap­pened last year.”

Bos­ton was 57-24 at Fen­way Park this year, the best home record in the ma­jor leagues, and Sale has a 1.29 ERA and .199 op­po­nents’ bat­ting av­er­age in his last eight home starts.

“I think he just feeds off the crowd and he just feels more com­fort­able at home,” Red Sox short­stop Xan­der Bo­gaerts said.

Bos­ton won the AL pen­nant in four of the six times it opened the Cham­pi­onship Se­ries at Fen­way, in 1975, 1986, 2007 and 2013, the last two en route to World Se­ries ti­tles. The Red Sox failed at this stage in 1988 and 1990.

“It’s a big dif­fer­ence to be able start at home against a good team,” Holt said.

As­so­ci­ated Press photo

Bos­ton Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale throws dur­ing a base­ball work­out at Fen­way Park, Fri­day in Bos­ton. Sale is sched­uled to start against the Hous­ton Astros in Game 1 of the base­ball Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries, Satur­day in Bos­ton.

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