RECAP: Jackie Bradley Jr. Blasts Grand Slam as #RedSox Take 2-1 Edge over Astros in ALCS.

The Boston Red Sox are two victories away from heading to their 13th World Series following an 8-2 blowout win over the Houston Astros in the first of three games at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night.

Nathan Eovaldi got the start for Boston in this one, his second of the postseason, and he put together yet another solid outing in enemy territory as he did last Monday night in New York.

Pitching six full innings, the right-hander surrendered all but two earned runs on six hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Despite dealing with a fair amount of traffic on the base paths, Eovaldi managed to hold his own against a team that can capitalize on mistakes in an instant by holding them to those two runs, the first of which came in the first and the second of which came in the fifth.

Ending his outing by retiring three of the final four hitters he faced in Houston’s half of the sixth, Eovaldi’s night came to an end with his pitch count at 92.

Out of those 92 pitches, 60 of which were strikes, the Houston native threw 30 cutters, 27 four-seam fastballs, 14 cutters, 11 splitters, and 10 sliders, which induced 10 total swinging strikes.

 

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He also topped out at 101 MPH with that four-seamer in the first inning and was responsible for eight of the game’s fastest 10 pitches on either side.

For his first ever time in a postseason, Eovaldi has proven that he is very capable of performing at a high level on a bigger stage.

In two starts this October, the 28-year-old is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings pitched with nine strikeouts and only two walks over that span.

In relief of Eovaldi, the Red Sox bullpen had themselves another memorable night, as they accounted for three scoreless innings to close this thing out.

Ryan Brasier got the first call to start the seventh with a one-run lead to protect, and despite allowing the tying run to reach scoring position on a Jose Altuve bunt single and passed ball, was able to escape the jam by getting Alex Bregman to line out to center field to end the inning.

Matt Barnes was next up for the eighth, moments after his team jumped out to an 8-2 advantage, and he followed up a leadoff walk by recording the first two outs of the frame.

That made way for Joe Kelly, who retired the lone hitter he faced on a Carlos Correa, 6-3 ground out.

Finally, Eduardo Rodriguez was responsible for the ninth in his first appearance of this series, and he closed things out in 1-2-3 fashion to secure an impactful win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, and they put up runs before the first out of the contest was even recorded.

Back-to-back singles from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi in the first set up a coolish JD Martinez in a nice run scoring spot, and the Red Sox’ DH came through with an RBI double to plate Betts and move Benintendi up to third.

Just a few moments after that, Xander Bogaerts doubled his team’s early lead by scoring Benintendi on an RBI ground out. 2-0 game.

Two innings later, with Martinez and Bogaerts on base following two straight walks from Keuchel, Steve Pearce appeared to come up with a crucial two out RBI knock on a sharp fly ball to left field, but Astros left fielder Tony Kemp, who is listed at 5’7”, made an improbable catch to end the third, or did he?

Whether or not you think Kemp caught that ball clean or it hit the wall before it landed in his glove, I’m just glad it ended up not making all that much a difference in the final score.

Fortunately for Pearce, he would have a chance to redeem himself in the sixth, and that he did on a one out, 1-0 88 MPH fastball from Astros reliever Joe Smith.

That ball, Pearce’s first of the postseason, was sent 456 feet down the left field line, which according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, is “the 4th longest Statcast-tracked postseason homer (2015-18), and the longest by a Red Sox.” It also put his team up 3-2, which is a lead they would not have to look back on.

As a matter of fact, that lead inflated some more in the eighth inning, all with closer Roberto Osuna, who entered Tuesday with a career 5.28 ERA when pitching against Boston, on the mound for Houston.

Igniting the rally was Rafael Devers, who didn’t even start this game, with a two out single to move Steve Pearce up to second.

That was followed by consecutive HBPs of Brock Holt and Mitch Moreland, both of whom were pinch-hitting for Ian Kinsler and Christian Vazquez.

The Holt HBP loaded the bases and the Moreland HBP served two purposes. One, it drove in Pearce from third, and two, it reloaded the bases for Jackie Bradley Jr.

Already with a bases-clearing extra base hit under his belt in this series, the scorching Bradley Jr. capitalized on another huge RBI chance by unloading on a 94 MPH fastball that was up and in and pulled it to right for the game-sealing grand slam.

David Ortiz’s reaction:

Some notes from this 8-2 win:

From @SoxNotes: Steve Pearce has recorded at least 1 hit and scored at least 1 run in each of his 6 starts in the 2018 postseason. The only other Red Sox player ever to do that in 6 consecutive starts in a single postseason is Mike Lowell (2007).

From @PeteAbe: Red Sox have outscored teams 28-6 on the road in three postseason games.

From @Sean_McAdam: Bradley was 1-for-17 with seven strikeouts with the bases loaded during season. Last two ABs: 3-run double Sunday; grand slam tonight.

Looking to go up 3-1 in this series tomorrow night, it will be Rick Porcello getting the starting nod for the Red Sox.

Coming in with a 1.35 ERA over 6.2 innings pitched this October, Porcello has done a little bit of everything at an effective level. Starting, coming in as reliever, it really doesn’t seem to matter for the right-hander.

Opposite Porcello will be veteran right-hander Charlie Morton for the Astros.

Morton, 34, did not pitch for his club in their three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS, and his last regular season start came on September 30th, so it will be interesting to see if there is some rust there.

First pitch of the fourth game of the ALCS is scheduled for 8:39 PM ET Wednesday on TBS.

 

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RECAP: Eduardo Rodriguez Surrenders Five Runs in Short Start as #RedSox Fall to Astros Again.

After dropping the series opener to the Houston Astros by a final score of 6-3 on Friday night, the Red Sox were back at it looking for some redemption on a Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

Making his 21st start of the season today was Eduardo Rodriguez, who dominated against the Chicago White Sox in his first start since returning from the 10-day disabled list in his last time out on September 1st.

Pitching into just the fourth inning of this one, the left-hander found himself not having the same amount of success he had in Chicago. Instead, the Astros got to him early and often, which as you could guess, led to some problems.

In the 3.1 frames of work on Saturday, Rodriguez surrendered five earned runs on six hits, two of which were home runs, and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

It was somewhat a tale of two starts for the 25-year-old in this one, because he began his day by retiring the first four hitters he faced in order.

It was not until Carlos Correa ripped a one out double off of Rodriguez where things really started to go down hill, because that was followed by a Tyler White triple that could have been caught by Jackie Bradley Jr. and a Jake Marisnick sacrifice fly that saw the Astros jump out to a 2-1 lead.

Over the next two innings, solo home runs from Alex Bregman, his 30th, and Martin Maldanado increased that Houston lead to three runs, and after walking George Springer with one out in the fourth, Rodriguez’s evening would come to a disappointing end.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 78 (49 strikes), the Venezuela native did not receive much help from his catcher, Christian Vazquez, in terms of calling a quality game, and that resulted in some hard hit balls from the Astros.

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Out of those 78 pitches, Rodriguez turned to his four-seam fastball the most on Saturday, as he threw it 36% of the time he was on the mound. He also topped out at 96 MPH with that same pitch in the first inning.

Falling to 12-4 on the season with his ERA inflating up to 3.64, the fourth-year hurler will look to reclaim that form he had on display against the White Sox in his next time out, which should come against the New York Mets next weekend.

In relief of Rodriguez, the Red Sox bullpen was surprisingly not to blame for this particular loss.

Brandon Workman was first up, and he closed the book on Rodriguez’s outing by allowing the second Astros run of the fourth to cross the plate on a sac fly, but bounced back with a scoreless fifth inning of work.

Bobby Poyner allowed the first two hitters he faced in the sixth to reach base, then sat down the next six Astros he faced consecutively going into the middle of the seventh.

Finally, Tyler Thornburg, who was pitching on no days rest for the first time since August 20-21st, dealt with his fair share of traffic on base paths, but ultimately held Houston scoreless in the two frames of relief he worked to hold his team’s deficit to three runs.

All and all, the Red Sox bullpen’s final line from Saturday looks like this:

5.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros right-hander Charlie Morton, who was making his first start since August 28th after being placed on the 10-day disabled list with right shoulder discomfort.

Starting the scoring right away in this one was Xander Bogaerts, whose one out RBI single in the bottom of the first drove in Mookie Betts from second and gave Boston an early advantage.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth now, and Bogaerts struck again by mashing his second home run of the series and his 21st of the season that pulled the Red Sox to within three runs of Houston.

That would end up being Morton’s final inning, and despite reaching base a total of nine times off the Astros hurler, those two runs were all the Red Sox could manage through the first five frames on Saturday.

After rookie reliever Josh James and Ryan Pressly shut things down through the end of the eighth, it all came down to the ninth inning with Astros closer Roberto Osuna on the mound for the second straight night.

A Blake Swihart leadoff pinch-hit single, followed by a one out walk from Mookie Betts, brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Andrew Benintendi.

A wild pitch from Osuna allowed both runners to advance 90 feet, and Benintendi capitalized on that mistake by driving in Swihart from third on an RBI single to left field. 5-3 game.

With JD Martinez coming up representing the game-winning run, the Red Sox could not have asked for a better scoring spot to be in with the league leader in RBI at the plate.

Unfortunately, Martinez could not come through with a clutch hit and instead grounded into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Some notes from this 5-3 loss:

With runners in scoring position on Saturday, the Red Sox were only 3/13 (.231)

Xander Bogaerts tied his career-high in home runs today (21) and also set a new career-high in RBI (92).

Going for their 98th win of the season once again tomorrow night, it will be Rick Porcello getting the start for Boston.

In his last time out against the Astros on June 3rd at Minute Maid Park, Porcello allowed just three runs (two earned) to score on five hits over 6.1 innings in what would turn out to be a 9-3 Red Sox win.

Opposite Porcello will be another former Cy Young Award Winner in Houston’s right-hander Dallas Keuchel.

Over the course of his seven-year career, Keuchel has made two career starts at Fenway Park.

In those pair of starts, the former seventh round draft pick has given up 11 earned runs in 16 innings pitched. That’s good for a 7.62 ERA to go along with a not so nice 1.69 WHIP.

First pitch of the series finale is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET Sunday. Time to salvage something.