The Boston Red Sox spent $217 million to make David Price the ace of the staff over the winter and so far are not seeing much of a return on their investment. Price will try to bounce back from another tough outing when the Red Sox host the Houston Astros in the opener of a four-game series on Thursday.
Price has gotten enough run support to come away with four wins, but his velocity has been down and he made some mechanical adjustments between starts that should help moving forward. “I’m mentally strong,” Price told reporters. “I’m not going to harp on these seven starts or my last start. I’m going to go out there on Thursday and be ready to get after the Astros.” Boston’s offense certainly is capable of making up for a poor start as it pounded out 40 runs in a three-game sweep of Oakland that helped pull the Astros out of sole possession of last place in the American League West. Houston has won six of its last nine after a slow start and earned a series win over Cleveland when Marwin Gonzalez clubbed a two-run, walk-off homer in the 16th inning on Wednesday for a 5-3 victory.
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, ROOT (Houston), NESN (Boston)
Astros – C J. Castro (Out Thursday, paternity leave).
Red Sox – No significant injuries relevant to Thursday’s game.
WEATHER REPORT: It’s going to be a perfect night for baseball at Boston’s historic Fenway Park. Clear skies, temperatures in the low 70’s at game-time, and a slight breeze (3-4 mph) blowing out towards the Green Monster in left field.
HOT FAN BATTLE:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros LH Dallas Keuchel (2-4, 4.70 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH David Price (4-1, 6.75)
Keuchel has been nearly as disappointing as Price while trying to follow up his 2015 Cy Young Award-winning campaign. The 28-year-old was reached for 16 runs and 26 hits over 16 1/3 innings in three straight losses before yielding two runs in seven frames against Seattle in a no-decision on Saturday. Keuchel mowed through the AL last season but did not face Boston, against which he has allowed seven runs and nine hits in 7 2/3 career innings.
Price has been rocked for six runs in each of his last two starts and has surrendered at least five earned runs in four of his seven turns. Three of those poor outings came at home, where the Vanderbilt product has posted an 8.34 ERA in front of his new fans. Price has pitched well against Houston over his career, posting a 3-2 record with a 2.89 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings.
* Astros are 1-7 in their last 8 games vs. a left-handed starter.
* Red Sox are 6-0 in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a losing record.
* Over is 5-1 in Astros last 6 vs. American League East.
* Under is 10-2 in Red Sox last 12 games vs. a left-handed starter.
* Astros are 3-11 in the last 14 meetings in Boston.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is all over the favored Red Sox with 70 percent of Covers users picking the home team. The Over seems to be the order of the day when looking at Consensus data with 65 percent of the wagers expecting plenty of runs to be scored tonight. View full consensus data here.
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