Chris Sale

The Red Sox begin their playoff campaign tomorrow with game one of the 2017 ALDS. And they’re going into this one as underdogs. In fact, I think the Vegas odds have the Red Sox’ chances of a World Series title well below those of the Dodgers, Cubs, Yankees, Flintstones, my upstairs neighbors and the cast of “Black-ish.”

But that’s okay. Because that’s where we operate best. In the shadows. Away from the bright glare of the spotlights and heavy expectations.

The Astros won 101 games and pretty much had their division locked up while the rest of us were wandering home drunk from Fourth of July parties. Meanwhile, the Red Sox waited until the penultimate game of the season to finally clinch the East. Houston also led the majors in runs, which is something that the Red Sox sometimes have a hard time scoring.

Beyond the stats, the Houston Astros are the “feel good” story. Just like the Red Sox carried Boston on their shoulders after the Marathon bombing in 2013, the Astros are a solid positive for a city that’s been left ravaged in the wake of Hurricane Irma. With the recent acquisition of Justin Verlander, they’re an even more imposing opponent. They’re not unbeatable, but they’re pretty fucking close.

Speaking of 2013, that’s the last time the Sox faced Verlander in the playoffs; an epic game that saw John Lackey come out on top, thanks to a home run by Mike Napoli. But the balance of the game was Verlander shutting us down, one after another. In the back of my mind, that’s the nightmare image I’ll be carrying into today’s game: the playoffs-tested Verlander shutting down the Sox offense (which has shown this season to be very shutdown-able).

The one thing we have going for us is that it’s the postseason. For all the focus I put on what brought these teams here, all that stuff goes out the window in October. You have to look past the records and sportsbook lines for MLB Playoffs and remember–as we learned in 2004–that anything can happen. We brought Chris Sale here to do Chris Sale things. Time for him to do them. To the Astros.