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Astros’ Verlander, Red Sox’s Sale to pitch Game 1 of ALCS

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Justin Verlander
Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander delivers a pitch during the first inning in game one of the 2018 ALDS playoff baseball series against the Cleveland Indians at Minute Maid Park. -- ERIK WILLIAMS-USA TODAY SPORTS

NEW YORK — Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will face off against his Boston Red Sox counterpart, Chris Sale, when the two teams meet in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) on Saturday.

Game 2 on Sunday will see Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole duel Red Sox southpaw David Price.

Price’s nod is perhaps the biggest surprise of the group. The left-hander has a history of struggles in the postseason as a starter, a narrative that was strengthened by his performance in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the New York Yankees.

Price allowed three runs on three hits — two of which were home runs — and two walks in 1 2/3 innings against the Yankees.

“We trust him,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said after Price’s rough start. “He bounced back before. We’ll talk to him and make a few adjustments, and we’ll go from there.”

Price is 0-9 with a 6.03 ERA in 10 career postseason starts.

Cole, meanwhile, dominated in his first playoff start with the Astros, striking out 12 and allowing just one run on three hits in seven innings in a Game 2 win over the Cleveland Indians during the ALDS.

Sale and Verlander facing off is a rematch of Game 1 of last year’s ALDS between the Red Sox and Astros. Houston won the contest 8-2, with Verlander allowing two runs in six innings to earn the win. Sale allowed seven runs on nine hits — three home runs — in five innings.

The right-handed Verlander allowed two runs on two hits and struck out seven across 5 1/3 innings in his Game 1 win over the Indians.

The left-handed Sale beat the Yankees in Game 1, then came out of the bullpen to pitch the eighth inning of Boston’s decisive Game 4 victory on Tuesday. Sale threw 13 pitches in a perfect frame. — Reuters