2021 MLB playoffs: Simulating the Red Sox vs. Astros ALCS matchup

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Simulation: Red Sox vs. Astros ALCS decided in Game 7 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The 2021 American League Championship Series features two opponents quite familiar with each other.

This will be the third postseason series between the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros. The Red Sox won the 2018 ALCS in five games and the Astros won the 2017 ALDS matchup in four games.

The Red Sox are slight betting underdogs in this series. The Astros have homefield advantage, a stellar offense (postseason-leading 7.75 runs per game) and loads of playoff experience. However, Houston will be without one of its most important players in starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., who was left off the ALCS roster with a forearm injury.

Boston also has embraced the underdog role in October, beating the rival New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game and the 100-win Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. The Red Sox enter this series with a 15-4 playoff record with Alex Cora as manager (2018, 2019 and 2021).

Tomase: Sale starting Game 1 could be make-or-break decision

How will the series play out? Our partners at Strat-O-Matic simulated the series and produced some pretty interesting results, including a heartbreaking conclusion for Red Sox fans.

John Tomase previews the Red Sox-Astros ALCS matchup


Here's a game-by-game breakdown.

Game 1

The Red Sox opened the series with a win thanks to a five-run fifth inning highlighted by a three-run double from J.D. Martinez. Xander Bogaerts had two hits (including a solo homer) and two RBI as the Red Sox collected 11 hits in another offensive explosion. Hunter Renfroe also went deep for the Sox.

Result: Red Sox 9, Astros 4

Game 2

Another big inning -- a four-run sixth -- propelled the Red Sox to a 2-0 series lead. Alex Verdugo's two-run double and a two-run homer by JD. Martinez led the surge in that pivotal sixth inning. Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi allowed two runs over five innings in another strong postseason outing. Rafael Devers also homered for Boston.

Result: Red Sox 6, Astros 4

Game 3

The Astros won the first game of the series at Fenway Park on a night where offense was everywhere (30 hits between the teams). The Astros tallied 17 hits, including a clutch two-out RBI single by Correa in the top of the ninth to tie the score and a two-run double in the 10th inning by Almedys Diaz to give Houston the win. Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez each had three hits in Houston's impressive performance.

Result: Astros 9, Red Sox 8 (10 innings)

Game 4

The Red Sox trailed 3-1 until the seventh inning when Kyle Schwarber's two-run single tied the score. In the 10th inning, Martinez's two-out double gave Boston a walk-off win and a commanding 3-1 series lead. Alvarez and Correa both homered for the Astros in the loss.

Result: Red Sox 5, Astros 4 (10 innings)

Game 5

The Red Sox could not clinch the pennant at home. Jose Altuve's solo home run in the seventh inning proved to be the game-winner as the Astros sent the series back to Houston. Martinez stayed hot at the plate for the Red Sox with a home run.

Result: Astros 3, Red Sox 2

Game 6

The Astros forced a Game 7 with a lopsided 12-4 victory in Game 6. The Astros broke a 4-4 tie with an eight-run eighth inning, paced by a two-run double from Jake Meyers and a three-run homer from Bregman. Altuve collected three hits as well. 

Result: Astros 12, Red Sox 4

Game 7

The Astros won the pennant and clinched their third World Series berth in the last five years. Jose Urquidy and five other relievers combined to throw a three-hit shutout as the Red Sox offense went cold at the absolutely worst time.  An RBI groundout by Yuli Gurriel in the fourth inning and a solo home run by Michael Brantley in the fifth inning were the only scoring. The Red Sox blew a 3-1 series lead and lost their third ALCS Game 7 since 2000.

Result: Astros 2, Red Sox 0