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Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox, July 21-23, 2015

Astros welcome the down-trotting Bo-Sox to Houston.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox, July 21-23, 2015

How the tables have turned. The Astros are fighting for the American League West crown and currently sit in second with a record of 51-43. The Red Sox, after winning the offseason, sit in last place in the American League East with a record of 42-51.

The Red Sox have lost five-straight coming into Tuesday's game with the Astros. Boston dropped a series with their hated-rivals Yankees before the All-Star Break and were swept in a four-game series with the Angels. Boston couldn't help the Astros out with a win or two over the AL West division leader.

The Red Sox played a doubleheader on Monday following a rainout on Sunday. They traveled just over three hours to Houston that same day to play the Astros. It will be a tough task to face any team on such short rest after a double-header. The Astros aren't just any team, Houston is coming in on a high after taking two of three from in-state rivals Rangers.

Pitching

Game 1 - RHP Vincent Velasquez (0-1, 3.94 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) vs. LHP Brian Johnson (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP) 
Game 2 - RHP Collin McHugh (10-5, 4.35 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)  vs. RHP Joe Kelly (2-5, 5.67 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)
Game 3 - RHP Lance McCullers (4-3, 2.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) vs. LHP Wade Miley (8-8, 4.49 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)

The Red Sox have inserted Joe Kelly in the rotation on Wednesday and push back Wade Miley and Rick Porcelloper mlb.com's Chandler Rome.  Today, the Astros also announced they had designated Joe Thatcher for assignment to make room for tonight's starter Vincent Velasquez.

Vincent Velasquez picked up his first major league decision in his sixth start, unfortunately it was loss after giving up two runs over 6 1/3 against the Indians. The Astros sent down Velazquez after that start for rest, and he hasn't pitched since July 7. Brian Johnson, MLB.com notes Johnson as the Red Sox's No. 5 prospect, went 8-6 with a 2.73 ERA in 16 games for Triple A Pawtucket.

Collin McHugh hasn't had clear sailing this season after a stelling opening campaign with the Astros in 2014 -- posting a 4.97 in 38 innings in June. But McHugh can still match his career high in wins with 11 tonight against the Red Sox. He allowed just four runs over his last 13 innings before the All-Star break, with back-to-back quality starts. Joe Kelly returns to the Red Sox after being optioned on June 25 to Pawtucket. In four start with the Triple A team, he was 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA.

Lance McCullers got some extra rest through the All-Star break, he and Velasquez have a innings limits that the Astros are attempting to tip-toe around. Before giving up fours to the Rays, McCullers allowed just one run in three straight starts including a game against the Red Sox. Wade Miley was magnificent in his first start back from the break, not allowing a hit through six innings against the Angels on July 17. He would pitch seven scoreless innings and take a no-decision.

Hitting

Looking at the Astros last three game back from the All-Star break. Luis Valbuena is 4-for-8 with a four-hit game and four RBIs. Carlos Correa is batting .455 in 11 at-bats with four RBIs, four runs scored, and two extra-base hits. Evan Gattis checks in with a .364 in 11 at-bats.

Xander Bogaerts is 6-for-14 with one RBI in the Red Sox's last four games. David Ortiz is 5-for-15 with a home run and two RBI.

Prediction

The Astros take two of three from the tailspinning Red Sox. Game one is in the bag with the doubleheader on Monday for Boston.

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