The Boston Red Sox have carved out a clear path to advance to the World Series.
They have scored 21 runs in Games 2 and 3 of the ALCS to open up a 2-1 advantage over the Houston Astros.
The Red Sox carry all of the momentum in the series right now, and they should keep it during Game 4 in a pitching matchup they can control based off recent postseason form.
Nick Pivetta will oppose Zack Greinke on Tuesday night at Fenway Park. The latter has more experience, but he had a rough regular season in which he finished with a 4.16 ERA.
Pivetta should be beaming with confidence after he shut down the Tampa Bay Rays for four innings in the ALDS. He was not perfect in the regular season either, but he has the potential to hold down the Houston lineup for four or five innings while the Boston bats cook against Greinke.
Boston in 5
The likelihood of the World Series being played at Fenway Park grew on Monday.
Boston's bats ripped through yet another Houston starter, as it put up nine earned runs in the first two innings. Jose Urquidy did not make it out of the second inning.
Urquidy's early exit forced the Astros to stretch out their bullpen for the second straight game. Four of the five relievers who appeared in Game 3 gave up an earned run to the Red Sox.
After Boston hit two grand slams in the first two innings of Game 2, it has been unstoppable at the plate. It produced 11 hits in Game 3. Enrique Hernandez, J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez had two base knocks each, and Kyle Schwarber delivered the back-breaking grand slam to the Houston pitching staff in the second inning.
The early lead allowed Eduardo Rodriguez to pitch with little stress. He gave up three earned runs on five hits over six innings. Three Boston relievers combined for three scoreless innings after he left.
The Red Sox can follow the same game plan to win Game 4 behind Pivetta, who was excellent in four scoreless extra inning frames in the ALDS Game 3.
The 28-year-old struck out seven batters in the pressure-packed situation against the Rays. He also fanned nine Astros when he faced the AL West winner on June 2 at Minute Maid Park.
The Boston right-hander lost a head-to-head battle with Framber Valdez in June, but he only conceded two earned runs.
If Pivetta deals four or five solid innings in Game 4, Boston should set itself up with the lead for the second half of the ball game
Boston scored 17 runs in the first three innings of Games 2 and 3. If its sluggers get to Greinke, as they did with Luis Garcia and Urquidy, Game 4 could be another blowout.
If the same trend appears in Game 4, Boston could crush all of Houston's remaining confidence and close out the series at home in Game 5.
That series result looks more likely with every swing of the bat since the Red Sox have overpowered Houston since the beginning of Game 2.
The starting pitchers for Game 5 have not been announced yet, but that may not matter to the Boston hitters since they have raked against any arm Dusty Baker has sent to the mound in the last two games.