night for the Red Sox at the

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night for the Red Sox at the

SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Giants hope to continue an increasingly improbable run to a playoff berth in the National League when they host the New York Mets on Saturday afternoon on the second day of a three-game series.On the same day that they appeared to raise the white flag when they dealt Andrew McCutchen to the New York Yankees for two prospects [url=]Leonys Martin Jersey[/url] , the Giants (68-68) used Aramis Garcia’s first major-league home run and Chris Shaw’s first major-league RBI to help beat the Mets 7-0 on Friday night and inch within 6 1/2 games of first-place Arizona (74-61) in the NL West.The win was the Giants’ fifth on a homestand that also has seen them lose Buster Posey and Steven Duggar to season-ending injuries.Article continues below ...The Giants, who remained eight games back in the race for the second NL wild-card berth, haven’t given up hope, as was evidenced by the sight of Posey and Pablo Sandoval, also out for the season following hamstring surgery, rooting on the club on Friday.“He’s doing fine,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Posey, who underwent hip surgery Monday. “He’ll be rehabbing for a while. I know he’s glad to get this part of it over, especially that first day or two, when you’re in a lot of pain.”Shaw, promoted earlier in the day to fill McCutchen’s vacated roster spot, eased a lot of the pain when he produced the Giants’ first run in the seventh inning Friday.Then Garcia, a catcher who had watched Nick Hundley do all the catching in the Arizona series that ended Wednesday, came through with a memorable first major-league hit — a homer off Mets reliever Robert Gsellman that triggered a six-run eighth inning.The Giants are hoping for more of the same Saturday with left-hander Derek Holland (7-8, 3.65 ERA) on the mound.The veteran is unbeaten in his last seven starts [url=]http://www.... , including a five-inning outing on Aug. 20 in New York in which he limited the Mets to one run and four hits in a 2-1 win.Holland did not get a decision in the victory, and has never beaten the Mets in his career, going 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts.He is scheduled to be opposed by fellow left-hander Steven Matz (5-11, 4.36), who is winless in his last four starts, having allowed 14 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings.Like Holland, Matz didn’t get credit for a win when he pitched the Mets to a 6-3 home victory over the Giants on Aug. 21. He gave up just two runs and two hits in five innings.Matz is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two career starts against the Giants.After the Giants roughed up the New York bullpen for six runs in the eighth inning Friday, the Mets called for reinforcements that are expected to join the team in time for Saturday’s game.Highly regarded reliever Eric Hanhold and minor-league mate Tim Peterson were reported to be headed west Friday night and should be ready to go when major-league rosters expand to 40 on Saturday.Hanhold, a hard-throwing right-hander, was acquired from Milwaukee as a player to be named later after the Mets dealt Neil Walker to the Brewers last September. Tim Bradbury/Getty ImagesThe Houston Astros now hold home-field advantage in the ALCS.The Astros stole Game 1 on the road, dominating the Boston Red Sox 7-2 behind Justin Verlander's six innings of two-run ball. George Springer was excellent, knocking in two runs and getting on base three times, while Carlos Correa's RBI single in the top of the sixth was the game-winning hit.The Astros added four insurance runs in the top of the ninth on Josh Reddick's solo home run and Yuli Gurriel's three-run shot.Unlike Verlander, Red Sox starter Chris Sale struggled, throwing 86 pitches in four innings while giving up two runs [url=]Ryan Carpenter Jersey[/url] , four walks and a hit. It was a poor performance from Boston's ace, forcing manager Alex Cora鈥攚ho was later ejected in the bottom of the fifth for arguing balls and strikes鈥攖o turn to his bullpen early.It was the Astros bullpen that locked down the contest, however, pitching three scoreless innings to close Game 1.Chris Sale's Struggles Could Have Ripple Effect Throughout SeriesSale did not have his best stuff Saturday night, and it was apparent early:Bryan Hoch BryanHochChris Sale doesnt have it tonight. Closing in on 50 pitches in the second inning as the Astros jump out front, 2-0, as George Springer raps one past Eduardo Nunez at third base.Zachary quot;Doomquot; Rymer zachrymerYeah, Chris Sale doesnt have it tonight.Zachary quot;Doomquot; Rymer zachrymerIts not just the ball/strike disparity. Too many of Chris Sales pitches arent even close to being good.The fact that he got through four innings while only allowing two runs made it seem like the Red Sox dodged a bullet. But Boston had to turn to its bullpen for the next five innings in a game it likely expected its ace to go deep. That could be a concern for the rest of the series, especially if Boston's other starters struggle.The last thing the Red Sox want is a taxed bullpen while facing Houston's dangerous lineup.Sale's struggles mean David Price must come up big in Game 2 on Sunday night. That has not been Price's postseason calling card, however. In 18 appearances (10 starts), Price is 2-9 with a 5.28 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 68 strikeouts across 75 innings.More concerning is the fact that Price only lasted 1.2 frames in his ALDS Game 2 loss against the New York Yankees, giving up three runs on three hits and two walks. And it's not as though the Red Sox can let him weather any storms, as opposing starterGerrit Cole is coming off an excellent season and is likely to make life difficult for the Red Sox bats.If Price struggles early, he'll almost assuredly be given a quick hook. And that would mean another long night for the bullpen.Should the Red Sox go down 2-0 in this series while facing a trip to Houston [url=]Jeimer Candelario Jersey[/url] , they'd be in trouble. It wouldn't be fair to call the matchup over鈥攖he Red Sox won 108 games, after all, and boast baseball's scariest lineup. They could dig out of that hole.But it's not a hole they'd choose, especially considering the Astros seem to have Sale's number.Houston's beaten Sale three times in the past two postseasons, and the Boston ace hasn't gotten past the fifth inning in any of those starts, giving up a total of 11 runs in the three losses.Add it all up, and Sale's Game 1 effort does not bode well for the Red Sox. Houston's Bullpen Remains Its Biggest ALCS AdvantageHouston's starting rotation often gets most of the attention when the team's pitching is mentioned, and for good reason: The trio of Verlander, Cole andDallas Keuchel is superb. Verlander, in particular, has been historically good in the postseason.Stats By STATS StatsBySTATSThe astros Justin Verlander has now allowed a total of 9 hits over his last 4 postseason starts. That ties the fewest hits ever allowed over a span of 4 postseason starts; the other to do it was Don Larsen from 1955-57 - a stretch that included his perfect game. #NeverSettleBut Saturday night, Houston's bullpen was dominant, proving it remains the team's major advantage over Boston.During the regular season, Houston led baseball in bullpen ERA. In 12.2 innings of postseason ball, they've given up one run. The Red Sox managed just one hit against Ryan Pressly [url=]http://ww... , Lance McCullers Jr. and Collin McHugh on Saturday night.Boston, meanwhile, was forced to cycle through five relievers over five innings, and that group gave up five runs, including the two ninth-inning dingers.Shea Serrano SheaSerranothe 9th inning of this astros game 3YlRj4KlWXThis series has been billed as the matchup of the unstoppable force (Boston's lineup) against the immovable object (Houston's pitching staff). But Boston has solid options in the starting rotation, even if Sale struggled on Saturday night, and the Astros have dangerous bats. The "unstoppable force vs. the immovable object" storyline is a bit reductive.Look more closely, and it's clear the bullpens could decide this series. In that regard, the Astros appear to have the advantage.Red Sox NeedMookie Betts to Get HotMookie Betts, the front-runner to win the AL MVP, only hit .188 against the New York Yankees in the ALDS. No matter. The rest of the Red Sox offense showed up, pushing 27 runs across the board in four games.But Betts had a limited impact once again Saturday night, managing just one hit without any runs scored or knocked in. And against Houston's superior pitching staff, the rest of the Red Sox weren't up to the task either, only posting three hits.In fact [url=]Justin Verlander Jersey[/url] , Boston's two runs came off a bases-loaded walk and a wild pitch by Verlander. It was an ugly night for the Red Sox at the plate.And it's been an ugly postseason for Betts, who hit .346 with 32 homers, 80 RBI, 129 runs and 30 stolen bases during the regular season. He was a major factor in every conceivable way for the Red Sox. He's been much less so in the postseason.For his career, Betts is hitting .239 with no homers, two RBI and six runs scored in 46 postseason at-bats over the past three years (12 games). His October struggles are a worry, especially given Boston's issues with solving Houston's pitchers Saturday night.The Astros' stars, meanwhile, mostly factored into the Game 1 result. In a series between teams this talented, the Red Sox have to get something from their best player. If Betts doesn't work his way out of this October slump, his team is in trouble.

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