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Series Preview: Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox, May 12-15, 2016

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The Astros head to Bean Town for four.

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros are in #AprilNeverHappen mode heading into Boston for four games. The Boston Red Sox have gone full super Saiyan and scored 13 or more in their last three games. Something will have to give. Will it be the Astros' positive vibes or the Red Sox juggernaut offense?

If April is any gauge then the Red Sox will come out on top. Boston took two of three from the Astros while outscoring Houston 21-10.

The Astros hope April is a thing of the past as the team is 7-4 in the month of May. Astros starters have a 2.30 ERA over the team's last seven games. The bullpen has a respectable ERA of 3.24 over that same stretch of time. Jose Altuve has been playing at MVP, and the team will have Lance McCullers returning to the rotation. Things are looking up for Houston.

The Red Sox offence appears to be a well-oiled machine. Boston has six players batting over. 345 with at least 25 at-bats: Jackie Bradley, Travis ShawDavid OrtizXander Bogaerts, and Hanley Ramirez. Numbers that won't be quickly shushed away for one series.

Starting pitching

Thursday: LHP Dallas Keuchel (2-4, 4.70 ERA, 1.52 WHIP) vs. LHP David Price (4-1, 6.75 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Friday: RHP Lance McCullers (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP, O GS) vs. RHP Steven Wright (3-3, 1.52 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)
Saturday: RHP Collin McHugh (4-3, 5.50 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (2-3, 5.90 ERA, 1.44 WHIP)
Sunday: RHP Chris Devenski (0-2, 1.72 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) vs. RHP Sean O'Sullivan (1-0, 6.43 ERA, 2.00 WHIP)

Dallas Keuchel and David Price, and excellent matchup for game one of this four-game series. Both pitchers were in the running for the 2015 AL Cy Young Award but haven't pitched like it in 2016.

Keuchel allowed 16 runs over a 16 1/3 innings stretch before he rebounded with solid seven innings against the Mariners. Keuchel has posted three quality starts this season but has yet to repeat the feat in back-to-back starts.

Keuchel has an 8.22 ERA in two career appearances (1 start) against the Red Sox. Current Red Sox are batting .267 (12x45) against Dallas Keuchel with a .353 BABIP, 2.02 FIP, 22.9 K%, and 6.3 BB%.

David Price didn't make any friends with the fans and media in Boston with his start to the season after signing a long-term contract with the Red Sox. Price has been trending in the wrong direction, giving up six runs in both of his last two starts.

Price is 3-2 with a 2.89 ERA in six career starts against the Houston Astros. Current Astros are batting .158 (12x76) with .208 BABIP, 2.39 FIP, 32.5 K%, and 3.8 BB%.

Lance McCullers returns to the rotation for the first time since the 2015 playoffs. McCullers dealt with shoulder soreness during Spring Training. He was sharp in his two rehab starts, allowing one run over eight innings. Knuckleballer Steven Wright hopes to continue his success against the Astros this season after allowing one unearned run over 6 2/3 innings in Houston earlier this year.

Collin McHugh has made an 180 turn from his start to the season. He has allowed just seven runs over his last 17 2/3 innings. In his one start against Boston this season, he allowed five runs over four innings. Clay Buchholz has always been an up and down pitcher, and it was personified in Houston. Buchholz was rolling along before Colby Rasmus hit a grand slam against the righty -- leading to a Red Sox's 8-3 loss.

Chris Devenski continues to prove he belongs in the Astros starting rotation. Devenski has a 0-2 record with a 2.55 ERA as a starter. Devenski pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings of relief against Boston.

Sean O'Sullivan is making his second start for the Red Sox. O'Sullivan allowed four runs over six innings against the A's.

Relief pitching

The Astros bullpen was heavily taxed with a 16 inning game on Wednesday -- the bullpen had to pick up nine innings. The long man Michael Feliz pitched three innings and won't be available for a day or two assuming he isn't sent down to make room for McCullers.

Josh Fields and Ken Giles hasn't found their way out of the woods quite yet -- both have given up two runs over 2 1/3 innings over the team's last seven games.

Luke Gregerson had his first blown save on Wednesday, allowing the game-tying run in the nine against the Indians. Gregerson has given up four runs over his last 3 2/3 innings.

The Red Sox bullpen has given up just five earned runs over 25 innings of work in the team's last seven games. Three of those runs coming from Heath Hembree. Closer Craig Kimbrel hasn't had a save chance in the team's last seven games.

Lineup

Jose Altuve is playing at an MVP level to start the 2016 season. Altuve is batting .385 (10x26) with seven runs scored, three doubles, a home run, four walks, and five RBIs in the team's last seven games. After a slow start, Marwin Gonzalez has hit his way into the starting lineup -- batting .370 (10x27) with three doubles and two home runs.

Carlos Gomez continues to struggle, batting .100 (2x20) with one RBIs in his last six games.

As previously mentioned, the Red Sox are blowing the cover off the ball. Bradley has five home runs and 15 RBIs in his last seven games. Ortiz has three home runs, three doubles, and seven RBIs. Shaw had three doubles and six RBIs. Dustin Pedroia is hitting .286 (8x28) with three home runs and seven RBIs.

The lowest member of the Red Sox starters Mookie Betts is batting .267 (8x30) with six runs scored and four RBIs -- which frankly isn't a slight.

Prediction

The Red Sox offense is hot, too hot to expect a serires victory. A series slipt will be a win for the Astros and it's what they get in Boston.