HOUSTON - As the Houston Astros prepare for their latest step in their quest to repeat a world championship, they are now stepping into a fairly familiar setting against a team they eliminated a season ago.
The Astros opened their 2017 postseason with a 3-games-to-1 series victory over the Boston Red Sox in the ALDS. They won game four at Fenway Park to clinch the series.
They also played at Fenway Park just last month, taking two of three games in front of a huge contingent of Astros fans, who made the trip to Boston.
Second baseman Jose Altuve is among many Astros who are looking forward to playoff baseball in such a historic ballpark.
“The atmosphere and the history of that ballpark is what makes it so nice,” Altuve said.
“I enjoy playing there," he continued. "Probably, these games are going to be a bit more dynamic and exciting, (with) a lot of adrenaline going on.”
He acknowledged the quality of opponent they will be facing, while at the same time noting the Astros are a force to be reckoned with.
“I think a lot of people were expecting this series, Boston (108) and Astros (103), 211 wins combined," he said. "That’s pretty awesome."
“I (have) got a lot of respect for the other team, but I have maybe more respect for my guys here,” Altuve continued.
“Marwin (Gonzalez), swinging the bat great, Alex (Bregman), Yuli (Gurriel) -- I mean every single guy is doing something that is helping us win.
“(George) Springer, (Carlos) Correa, hitting homers -- it is amazing what we can do when we put some good at-bats together.”
Boston was the best team in baseball at home, going 57-24 during the regular season. The Astros had an identical record when playing on the road.
“It is really good to know we can play as good as we play at home, on the road, sometimes even better," Altuve said. "We stay humble about it. We go one game at a time, and we’ll see what happens."
It’s also no secret the Astros bring a lot of confidence into Game 1, because their ace, Justin Verlander, will make that start.
“Justin is amazing," Altuve said. "I respect him a lot. Plus, he likes these kinds of games. He waits for (moments like) this and he was born for these kinds of games, it’s good to know that he’s pitching our first game."
First pitch is set for 7:09 p.m. Central time Saturday.
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