Game No. 94 Preview: Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Astros welcome the World Series Champions to town before the All-Star break.

Houston Astros (39-54) vs. Boston Red Sox (41-51), 7:10 p.m. (CST)

TV: CSN Houston, MLB.TV
Radio: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM
Red Sox SBNation BlogOver the Monster

Pitching matchup

RHP Scott Feldman (4-5, 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) vs. RHP John Lackey (9-6, 3.84 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)

Preview

The Astros fresh off sending the Rangers to the basement in the American League West (if only by a few percentage points), now turn their focus to the 2013 World Series Champions. I should just skip to calling them the former World Series champions, the Red Sox are 9.5 games back of the Orioles for first place in American League East. The Sox are currently tied with the Rays for last place in the AL East. Boston comes into the series with Houston, winner in just three of their last ten games - as are the Astros. The only difference between the two teams if the face the Red Sox slipt four with White Sox and the Astros swept the Rangers. Sweeping your in-state rivals leaves a better taste in one's mouth.

Scott Feldman comes into today's game with three straight quality starts under his bet. He doesn't have much to show for it, he is 1-1 in the stretch. In his last start, he held the Angels to just two runs on six hits on July 5. He was in line for the win before the bullpen gave eight runs in one inning.

Veteran of the American League and the AL Ease with the O's, Feldman has a long track record with the Red Sox hitters.  Mike Napoli is batting .414 (12-29) in his career against Feldman with two home runs. David Ortiz also has two home runs against Feldman and is 3-for-12 in his career. Dustin Pedroia is 7-for-17 with a home run.

On the mound for the Red Sox  is John Lackey, native son of Abilene, Texas. Lackey has rebounded nicely from a poor 2010 and 2011 seasons to because a reliable hand in Boston's rotation. That said his era has slowly creeped up month by month from May, 2.56 to 4.24 in June. Lackey has a 4.65 ERA away from Fenway Park. He is coming off a rough outing on July 5 against the O's, he gave up five runs on 10 hits over 5.1 innings. Lackey did rack up the strikeouts in the game with 11 and with just one walk.

Jose Altuve and Robbie Grossman are 1-for-6 in his career against Lackey; Jason Castro back in the lineup is 2-for-4 with two walks. Jesus Guzman is 2-for-5 with a home run.

Prediction

The Astros offense has been hot coming out of their series with Arlington. But, the veteran Lackey will out duel the veteran Feldman. The Red Sox will chew up the Astros starter early with the pitch count, and get to the Astros bullpen early - never a good recipe for the Astros.

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