The Boston Red Sox finished with the best record in baseball during the regular season while the Houston Astros had the best run differential. The two juggernauts will square off to decide which team gets to represent the American League in the World Series when the Red Sox host the Astros on Saturday in Game 1 of the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.

Boston won a franchise-record 108 games during the regular season and dispatched the rival New York Yankees in four games in the AL Division Series, setting up a showdown with the defending World Series champions. "Knowing that they're a great team, we have a great team, too," Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts told reporters. "It's going to be a fun battle. So, I think we just -- you have to embrace it. There's no sense in making it more than what it is." Houston, which knocked off Boston in the ALDS last October during its run to the title and swept aside the Cleveland Indians to begin its 2018 playoff run, isn't worried at all about not having homefield advantage in the series. "It's kind of how we are," Astros manager AJ Hinch told reporters. "I don't remember the last game that there was any sort of nerves or timidness. Certainly no fear. I think we feel prepared. We feel talented. We feel like we've got options. We've got different guys that can step up and do well. We have a nice little vibe about us, and it's grown over the year."


TV: 8:09 p.m. ET, TBS

PITCHING MATCHUP: Astros RH Justin Verlander (1-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. Red Sox LH Chris Sale (1-0, 2.84)

Verlander got the nod in Game 1 of the ALDS against Cleveland and held the Indians hitless through the first five frames before allowing two runs to come away with a win. The former AL MVP earned a pair of wins against Boston during the 2017 ALDS, including a victory out of the bullpen in the clinching Game 4 at Fenway Park. "I've always enjoyed the moment," Verlander told reporters after beating Cleveland. "I think it's something that you don't take for granted. You work so hard for so long, all year long. ... You just want to go out there and succeed."

Sale struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings to earn a win in Game 1 of the ALDS and tossed a perfect frame in relief during the clinching Game 4. The Florida native was not as sharp against the Astros last October, when he was twice beaten by Verlander and ended up allowing a total of nine runs on 13 hits - four homers - in 9 2/3 innings. "They have a good lineup. They wouldn't be here if they didn't," Sale told reporters of Houston. "They've got guys who can put the ball in the seats at any time and you just try to break that down, try not to give up that big inning or that big hit."

WALK-OFFS

1. The Red Sox will decide Saturday morning whether to keep 1B Mitch Moreland (hamstring) on the roster or add a pitcher.

2. Astros OF George Springer homered seven times in his last nine postseason games, including three in the ALDS.

3. Boston manager Alex Cora served as the bench coach for Houston in 2017.

PREDICTION: Red Sox 4, Astros 3  Bet Now

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Team Name

AWAY
Justin Verlander Pitching order:1
Ryan Pressly Pitching order:2
Lance McCullers Jr. Pitching order:3
Collin McHugh Pitching order:4
Marwin Gonzalez Batting order:6 Slot:1
Position: Left Outfield (LF)
Martin Maldonado Batting order:8 Slot:1
Position: Catcher (C)
Jose Altuve Batting order:2 Slot:1
Position: Second Base (2B)
Tony Kemp Batting order:5 Slot:3
Position: Pinch Hitter (PH)
2nd Position: (DH)
George Springer Batting order:1 Slot:1
Position: Center Outfield (CF)
Josh Reddick Batting order:9 Slot:1
Position: Right Outfield (RF)
Alex Bregman Batting order:3 Slot:1
Position: Third Base (3B)
Carlos Correa Batting order:7 Slot:1
Position: Shortstop (SS)
Yuli Gurriel Batting order:4 Slot:1
Position: First Base (1B)
Jake Marisnick Batting order:5 Slot:2
Position: Pinch Runner (PR)
2nd Position: (DH)
Tyler White Batting order:5 Slot:1
Position: Designated Hitter (DH)

Team Name

HOME
Chris Sale Pitching order:1
Joe Kelly Pitching order:2
Matt Barnes Pitching order:3
Ryan Brasier Pitching order:4
Brandon Workman Pitching order:5
Heath Hembree Pitching order:6
Andrew Benintendi Batting order:2 Slot:1
Position: Left Outfield (LF)
Sandy Leon Batting order:9 Slot:1
Position: Catcher (C)
Brock Holt Batting order:6 Slot:1
Position: Second Base (2B)
Mitch Moreland Batting order:9 Slot:2
Position: Pinch Hitter (PH)
Jackie Bradley Jr. Batting order:8 Slot:1
Position: Center Outfield (CF)
Mookie Betts Batting order:1 Slot:1
Position: Right Outfield (RF)
Eduardo Nunez Batting order:7 Slot:1
Position: Third Base (3B)
Xander Bogaerts Batting order:4 Slot:1
Position: Shortstop (SS)
Steve Pearce Batting order:5 Slot:1
Position: First Base (1B)
Christian Vazquez Batting order:9 Slot:3
Position: Pinch Runner (PR)
2nd Position: (C)
J.D. Martinez Batting order:3 Slot:1
Position: Designated Hitter (DH)

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