For the first two games of the American League Championship Series, the Houston Astros have been at the friendly confines of Minute Maid Park.
It’s a climate-controlled building when the roof is closed, and they are familiar with the dimensions and all of the park’s eccentricities.
But now they head to Boston for the next three games, where they’ll play at the Red Sox’s often unforgiving home of Fenway Park. It’s a beautiful setting for October baseball, but one that will add some challenges to both teams — though for the Astros, in particular, if for no other reason than less familiarity.
Two hallmarks of Boston stood out for Astros manager Dusty Baker when identifying the added challenges of the road games: The autumn weather and the Green Monster.
“Everybody knows the road is difficult,” Baker said Sunday, via ASAP Sports. “Probably the challenges that are going to be here, more than anything, are the weather conditions. You know, playing outside, where here we are playing in a controlled environment. It’s supposed to be — I heard it’s supposed to be cold, like New England fall cold, but this is something that you have to put out of your mind. That’s probably the major challenge.
“The wall is probably one of the main challenges, for our outfielders and infielders. Especially if you haven’t been there. They know their wall and their stadium better than anybody. Very little foul territory down the left field line. I think it’s only a foot or two or less, so that’s a major challenge. It changes your cut-offs and relay positions, your infielders have to go out more. You got caroms down the line, and you got caroms off the wall.”
It will indeed be brisk, with the temperature forecasted at 54 degrees for first pitch.
Baker is trying to leave as little to chance as possible, even turning down the opportunity to work out at Fenway instead of Minute Maid on Sunday so that his players could instead have an earlier night.
First pitch for Red Sox-Astros Game 3 is set for 8:08 p.m. ET on Monday. NESN will have pregame coverage at 7, plus postgame coverage immediately following the final out.