Xander Bogaerts Drives in Game-Tying and Game-Winning Runs as #RedSox Salvage Series Against Astros with 4-3 Victory

After dropping three of their last four at home, the Red Sox salvaged their three-game series against the Astros with a tight 4-3 win on Sunday to put an end to Houston’s 10-game winning streak.

Making his 10th start of the season for Boston in this one was Chris Sale, fresh off a career-high 17 strikeouts over seven innings in his last time out against the Colorado Rockies.

Pitching into just the sixth inning Sunday, the left-hander had to grind his way through a tough lineup, as he surrendered three runs on four hits, a season-high five walks, and one HBP to go along with 10 strikeouts the afternoon.

For the fifth time in his last six starts, Sale did reach the double-digit mark for punchouts. That much was encouraging to see. The five walks, tied for the most the southpaw has yielded in a single game, were not. Entering Sunday, Sale had given out only two free passes since the beginning of May.

Two of those walks directly led to Astros runs, with the first coming on a leadoff walk drawn by Yuli Gurriel in the second, who would eventually come around to score from third on a two-out wild pitch with George Springer at the plate.

Judging by where that slider was located, it would appear as though Christian Vazquez, who doesn’t usually catch Sale, was looking for something different and thus got crossed up, which in turn allowed the run to cross the plate.

Able to escape the second without any further damage, walks hurt the Florida native yet again an inning later, with Carlos Correa mashing a one-out, two-run homer to deep center after Alex Bregman, like Gurriel, led the frame off by drawing a seven-pitch free pass.

From that point, Sale settled in a bit by retiring eight of the next nine Houston hitters he faced before running into some more trouble in the sixth.

There, a Gurriel leadoff double, followed by back-to-back one-out walks of Robinson Chirinos and Josh Reddick loaded the bases for the Astros yet again, consequently putting an end to Sale’s outing thanks to a pitch count north of the century mark.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 106 (63 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler relied heavily on his slider, as he turned to the pitch more than 47% of the time he was on the mound Sunday and induced a game-high 10 swings and misses with it. He also topped out at 96.4 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 36 times.

Hit with the no-decision, Sale will look for his second win of the season in his next time out, which will come against these same Astros at Minute Maid Park on Friday.

In relief of Sale, Marcus Walden was thrown into the fire, as he came on for his 16th appearance of the year with two outs to get and the bases full.

Having never faced the Astros before in his career, the right-hander managed to get the only batter he faced in the inning, Jake Marisnick, to ground into an inning-ending 6-3 double play before tossing another scoreless frame with the help of another inning-ending twin killing in the seventh.

After the Red Sox jumped ahead by one run in their half of the seventh, that set up Matt Barnes with the chance to preserve that lead in the eighth, and the versatile righty did just that by sitting down the only three Astros he faced in order to make way for Brandon Workman in the ninth.

In what was the first save opportunity of his career, the 30-year-old worked his way around walking the potential tying run with one out by getting Tony Kemp to line out to Jackie Bradley Jr. to secure the 4-3 win for his team, thus securing career save number one as well.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an old friend in Astros left-hander Wade Miley, who spent the 2015 season with Boston.

Pitching in a venue with some familiarity, the Sox bats jumped early on Miley, with Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts both reaching base and advancing 90 feet to second and third with one out thanks to a wild pitch from the Houston starter.

With runners in scoring position and two outs to work with, JD Martinez drove in Boston’s first run of the afternoon on a simple RBI groundout to short that gave Betts enough time to score from third. 1-0.

Fast forward to the fifth, after the Astros went ahead with a 3-1 lead of their own, the Red Sox erased that deficit very quickly thanks to the top of their lineup, headlined by rookie Michael Chavis making his big league debut in the leadoff spot.

On the very first pitch he saw from Miley with two outs in the inning, Chavis demolished a 88 MPH cutter and sent it 420 feet over the Monster for his eighth big fly of the season to make it a one-run game.

Just a few moments later, Betts put the tying run in scoring position with a line-drive double, and Bogaerts came through with his first of two clutch hits on the day, this time plating Betts from second on a fly ball RBI single that honestly should have been caught. Instead, the ball evaded Yuli Gurriel, Jake Marisnick, and Josh Reddick, and found a nice place to land in shallow right field. 3-3 ballgame.

And in the seventh, it was the Xander Bogaerts show once more with Betts representing the go-ahead run at first and two outs in the inning.

Facing off against Astros reliever Frambler Valdez for the first time ever, the 26-year-old shortstop laced a 1-1 RBI double off the center field wall, scoring Betts all the way from first to make it a 4-3 contest, which would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Since April 23rd, Chris Sale has recorded a nice 69 strikeouts over his last 38.1 innings pitched. That’s good for a K/9 of 16.3.

Speaking of nice, Marcus Walden owns an ERA of 0.69 in his last six appearances out of the Red Sox bullpen.

Matt Barnes has not given up a run in his last nine relief outings.

Through 13 games this month, Christian Vazquez is slashing .476/.511/.714 with two home runs and three RBI.

Next up for the Red Sox, they head north of the border for the first time this season to take on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the 19-27 Toronto Blue Jays.

Following Sunday’s win, the club optioned right-handed pitcher Josh Smith and catcher Oscar Hernandez to Triple-A Pawtucket, meaning David Price and Sandy Leon are likely to be activated from the injured list and paternity leave list respectively on Monday.

Price is already slated to get the ball in the first of four against his former team, while right-hander Edwin Jackson, now with his 14th big league club, will start for Toronto.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 1:07 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to start another winning streak.

 

 

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Rick Porcello’s Gem Turns Sour Quickly as #RedSox Fall to Astros in Series Opener

After an off day on Thursday, the Red Sox opened up a three-game weekend series against the Houston Astros in disappointing fashion on Friday, as they dropped the first of three against the team they eliminated from last year’s American League Championship Series by a final score of 3-1.

Making his ninth start of the season for Boston was Rick Porcello, who entered the weekend unbeaten in his last five outings dating back to April 20th.

Pitching into the eighth inning of this one, the right-hander thoroughly impressed yet again, surrendering just two earned runs on six hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

The only real trouble for Porcello came in that eighth inning, an inning that he should not have been left out for. That much was admitted by Sox manager Alex Cora during his postgame press conference.

With his pitch count inching towards the 100 mark and the Astros lineup about to turn back over entering the eighth, a Jake Marisnick leadoff double would ultimately spell the end for Porcello, because on the very next pitch he threw, an 82 MPH changeup to George Springer, the Houston slugger ripped a 395 foot home run into the Red Sox bullpen for his league-leading 17th dinger of the season.

That put the Astros up 2-1, which would turn out to be the only lead they would need.

Other than those two mistakes though, the New Jersey native really had himself a fine night through the first seven frames of this one, working his way around a handful of tight spots to keep the Astros off the board up until the eighth.

He induced four swings and misses, kept away from any hard contact off the Astros potent lineup, and then it all fell apart in that dreaded eighth inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 95 (61 strikes) after serving up that two-run homer, Porcello turned to his slider 29% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing all four of those swinging strikes with the pitch. He also topped out at 92.8 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 25 times with Christian Vazquez catching him for the third time this year.

Falling to 3-4 on the season now, the 30-year-old hurler will look to start a new personal winning streak in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays sometime next week.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen would wind up being responsible for the final two innings Friday, with Ryan Brasier getting the call for the remainder of the eighth.

Coming into this one with an ERA of 11.75 so far this month, Brasier’s high-leverage struggles continued Friday, as he yielded two walks in consecutive order to Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa.

Brantley, in his first year with Houston, managed to advance all the way to third thanks to a passed ball on the part of Vazquez and a wild pitch on the part of Brasier.

With one out and runners on the corners now. a sacrifice fly off the bat of ex-Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick allowed Brantley to come in to score from third for what would turn out to be a very important insurance run.

Brasier escaped the inning without giving up anything else, and that made way for Heath Hembree in the ninth, who needed just 15 pitches to strike out the side in a scoreless frame of work to at least give his team a legitimate chance to make a comeback attempt.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a fairly familiar opponent in Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole, who came into Friday with a lifetime 5.73 ERA when pitching at Fenway Park.

Despite not being able to score off him, the Boston bats made Cole work over the first five innings of this one.

They had a few chances to push across a run or two, but the Astros starter did need 99 pitches just to get through those five scoreless frames.

As soon as the Red Sox forced Cole out and the Houston bullpen in, the club plated their first run of the evening off Hector Rondon, with a Xander Bogaerts leadoff single resulting in a short-lived 1-0 lead on a two-out RBI single off the bat of a seemingly red-hot Christian Vazquez.

Like I just mentioned, that put Boston on the board first, and they actually kept the lead for a little while, but as most teams have come to find out, a one-run advantage against a lineup as potent as Houston’s isn’t going to hold up for long.

Add that to how exceptional the Astros bullpen is, and it’s pretty easy to see why this team came into this series winners of eight straight.

Back to the game at hand, Will Harris held the Sox down order in the seventh before Ryan Pressly did the same in the eighth.

Pressly, a former Red Sox draftee back in 2007, made history with his 39th straight scoreless relief appearance dating back to last season, breaking old friend Craig Kimbrel’s record for most consecutive scoreless outings.

And in the ninth, down to their final three outs, a one out double from Vazquez and a two out walk drawn by Andrew Benintendi against Astros closer Roberto Osuna gave Boston a chance in a two-run game with Mookie Betts coming to the plate.

Facing off against Osuna for the 11th time in his career, the reigning American League MVP made solid contact with the fifth pitch he saw from the Houston closer, a 2-2 knee-high 85 MPH slider, but could only watch as Michael Brantley was in perfect position to field the ball in left field for the third and final out. A lineout that registered at 107 MPH off the bat and had 74% chance of being a hit goes for naught, and the Red Sox drop their second game of the homestand by a final score of 3-1.

Some notes from this loss:

More from Alex Cora on leaving in Porcello:

Through 34 games this season, Christian Vazquez is slashing .311/.362/.519 with five home runs and 15 RBI.

In their last 31 meetings including the postseason, the Red Sox are 16-15 against the Astros.

Speaking of the Astros, they are baseball’s hottest team with nine straight wins.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set on Saturday night.

For Houston, it will be rookie right-hander Corbin Martin making the second start of his young career.

Ranked as the Astros’ second-best pitching prospect on MLB.com, Martin, 23, picked up the win over the Texas Rangers in his big league debut last Sunday.

For Boston, it will be right-hander Hector Velazquez making his seventh start and 13th overall appearance of the season.

In his last time out, Velazquez also picked up the win with five innings of two-run ball against the Seattle Mariners.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 PM EDT on FOX. Red Sox looking to get back on track.

 

 

#RedSox Legend David Ortiz on JD Martinez: “He’s a Psychopath”

From one great Red Sox designated hitter to another, David Ortiz had some high praise for JD Martinez when speaking with reporters at JetBlue Park on Saturday.

“I’ve got to give it to J.D., man,” Ortiz said. “J.D. is like the center, the mother hen. He’s the one who everybody is like getting feedback from because he’s a psychopath. This dude is at another level of being good and wanting to be better. That’s one thing I enjoy the most when I’m around here: just watch the way he handles himself and the way he helps the rest of the squad. That’s what makes a difference year after year after year.”

In response to the Red Sox legend’s kind words, Martinez told reporters with a smile, “Sounds about right. I’ve been known to be that. So I don’t doubt it.”

Both Martinez and Ortiz fought their way to stardom in baseball. Nothing was handed to either of them.

When he was 26, Martinez was released by the Houston Astros prior to the start of the 2014 season.

The same essentially happened with Ortiz as well, who was cut loose by the Minnesota Twins at the age of 27 during the 2002 offseason.

The pair managed to find new teams fairly quickly after their release and both flourished seemingly as a result of it.

Ortiz signed with Boston in the early part of January in 2003 and in the 14 seasons he spent with the Red Sox, the future Hall of Famer accumulated the fifth most fWAR in the American League (50.1) from 2003 to 2016.

Martinez, on the other hand, latched on with the Detroit Tigers beginning in 2014 and has been one of, if not the best hitter in baseball since, slashing .307/.371/.568 with 171 home runs and 481 RBI over 670 total games between the Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and now the Red Sox.

According to FanGraphs, the Florida native has been worth 20.9 fWAR since the start of the 2014 season, the seventh highest fWAR among outfielders in all of baseball.

When talking about what Ortiz has meant for him since joining the Red Sox, Martinez said, “I feel like he kind of just gave me a feel of what to expect. I talked to him a lot about the DH role; and does and don’ts. And just kind of getting an idea of what his routine was while he was here. And certain things to kind of look out for and not get caught up in.”

Ortiz, who is currently serving as a special assistant for the Red Sox in a part-time capacity, will remain with the club in Florida through Sunday and return again later in March.

 

RECAP: #RedSox Punch Ticket to World Series as Jackie Bradley Jr. Is Named ALCS MVP.

For the first time since 2013, the Red Sox are headed back to the World Series following a 4-1 win over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Thursday night.

In a game that wasn’t necessarily a must win for Boston, David Price put together perhaps the best postseason performance of his career in this Game Five.

Pitching six full innings on only three days rest, the left-hander held the Astros scoreless on just three hits and zero walks to go along with nine strikeouts on the night. Mookie Betts supported the cause.

Given the fact it looked as though he could have been inserted into Wednesday’s night game as a late inning reliever, I would say Price exceeded expectations and then some with is outing.

To go into Houston, face an Astros team with their backs against the wall, and throw up six straight shutout frames is extremely impressive. As a matter of fact, it’s the first time in Price’s 11-year career that he got the winning decision in a postseason game he started.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 (65 strikes), the Tennessee native had his changeup working for him, and he turned to it 39 times on the mound, which resulted in 12 total swings and misses.

He also topped out at 95.8 MPH with his two-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 15 times.

All and all, David Price exercised his playoff demons on Thursday, got that monkey off his back, and should be your starting pitcher for Game Two of the World Series come next Wednesday night at Fenway Park.

In relief of Price, the heavily used Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final nine outs in this contest, and they saw things through to completion.

Matt Barnes got the first call to start the seventh, and he recorded the first two outs of the inning before serving up a solo home run to Marwin Gonzalez to put Houston on the board.

That would be followed by a seven pitch walk of Tony Kemp, and that made way for Nathan Eovaldi to come in and try to escape a bit of a jam.

Pitching for the first time since tossing six quality innings as Tuesday night’s starter, Eovaldi made his presence felt immediately by retiring the side in the seventh and then reaching 102 MPH in the eighth to fan Alex Bregman for the second of three outs recorded by the Houston native in the frame.

Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on for the save opportunity with a three run lead to work with in the ninth after throwing two innings less than 24 hours prior, and he worked his way around a one out walk in an otherwise clean frame to send his club to the World Series.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros ace right-hander Justin Verlander, who came into Thursday with a 4-0 record and 1.15 ERA over the last four starts he has made with his team facing elimination.

The last time they saw Verlander, the Red Sox lineup could muster all but two runs on two outs in a Game One loss last Saturday, but that turned around for the better last night.

Starting the scoring in the third of this one was JD Martinez, a former teammate of Verlander’s, whose one out solo home run, his first and only of the series, put Boston on the board first.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Mitch Moreland would wind up acting as the catalyst for a three-run inning by reaching second on a leadoff double.

One Ian Kinsler single that advanced Moreland to third later, Rafael Devers came to the plate without a hit up to that point, but he would come through with the biggest at bat of the night.

On the first pitch he saw from Verlander, the 21-year-old infielder belted a 98 MPH fastball located at the top of the strike zone 359 feet into the Crawford Boxes in left field.

That put the Red Sox up 4-1 and they would not have to look back en route to clinching their 14th American League pennant.

Some notes from this 4-1 win:

After finishing this series with nine RBI, all of which came with two outs, Jackie Bradley Jr. was named ALCS MVP. A huge honor for someone who was not always a fan favorite this season.

Thursday was Alex Cora’s 43rd birthday and the Red Sox went ahead and got him a trip to the World Series.

From @SoxNotes: Players with 3+ postseason HR before turning 22 years old:
Mickey Mantle – 4
Bryce Harper – 4
Miguel Cabrera – 4
Andruw Jones – 4
Rafael Devers – 3

From @MLBStatoftheDay: The Red Sox are the first team to eliminate multiple 100-win clubs in one postseason since… The 2004 Red Sox!

Rafael Devers went 5/13 with one home run and six RBI over the span of five games in this series.

The Red Sox are still unbeaten on the road in October.

So, there you have it. Now, the Red Sox wait and see who comes out of the NLCS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers, with Los Angeles having the edge in that series at three games to two.

I should have more on all of this sometime later today, but for now, let’s just enjoy the celebration.

RECAP: Andrew Benintendi Makes Game-Saving Catch in Ninth Inning as #RedSox Jump up 3-1 on Astros in ALCS.

In a game that took over four and a half hours to complete, the Red Sox found themselves just one win away from clinching the American League pennant following an enthralling 8-6 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night.

Making his second start (fourth appearance) of the postseason in this one was Rick Porcello, and he did not have it going on early.

Tossing four innings seemingly out of necessity, the right-hander got hit hard, as he surrendered a postseason-high four earned runs on seven hits, one walk, and one HBP to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

Right from the get go, it was clear to see Porcello was struggling to find any sort of rhythm. The Astros were making hard contact and getting on base, which could have led to two runs crossing the plate in their half of the first, right after the Red Sox scored a pair of their own, had it not been for Joe West ruling this ball off the bat of Jose Altuve as fan interference.

I don’t want to get into this too much, since like Tuesday’s controversy, it really did not make a difference in the end, but I do believe it’s pretty obvious that Mookie Betts would have made that spectacular catch had that fan not shut his glove closed.

Any who, Porcello got out of the first unscathed. Great, maybe he’ll start to settle in a bit after getting that out of the way, I thought.

Nope, instead Josh Reddick and Carlos Correa greeted the New Jersey native in their half of the second by consecutively reaching base, and that led to Houston’s first run of the night coming around to score on a Correa RBI single.

An inning later, George Springer, who seemingly hits a home run in almost every postseason game he plays in, was at it agin with a leadoff solo shot to right field that cut Boston’s lead to one momentarily.

After a Jose Altuve double to follow that up and two straight outs, Josh Reddick continued his revenge tour against the team he came up with by ripping a line drive RBI single to left to drive in Altuve. Tie game.

In his final frame of work, Porcello failed once again to retire the side in order, as he served up a one out, solo home run to Astros left fielder Tony Kemp, who put his club up by a run with his first homer of the series.

Finishing his night by getting Jose Altuve to pop out to first for the final out of the fourth, Porcello would finish with a final pitch count of 68 (46 strikes).

Out of those 68 pitches, the 29-year-old hurler, who was caught by Christian Vazquez, relied on his slider the most at 31% of the time and topped out at 92.9 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the first inning. He only induced seven total swings and misses as well.

chart (10)

Whether we see Porcello again in this series will probably be indicative on whether or not it goes back to Boston.

If the Red Sox clinch the pennant tonight, then there’s obviously no need for him until the World Series. But, it would not shock me to see Alex Cora turn to Porcello in a late, close game at Fenway either.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for locking down the final five innings of Wednesday night’s contest.

Joe Kelly (1-1) got the first call in the fifth with the game tied at four runs each, but surrendered the then go-ahead run on another Carlos Correa RBI single in the lone inning he appeared in.

Eduardo Rodriguez was next up with left-handed bat Tony Kemp set to leadoff the sixth, and he walked him on seven pitches, the last three of which were all balls. Not ideal.

That made way for Ryan Brasier to clean up that small mess, and he did just that by sitting down the 1-2-3 hitters in the Astros lineup in consecutive fashion.

With his team up 7-5 by the time he took the mound again for the seventh, Brasier would be unable to do his job this time, as he gave up a leadoff single to Marwin Gonzalez and a two out double to the pesky Carlos Correa to put runners at second and third.

Matt Barnes got the next call from Alex Cora in this crucial spot with the pinch-hitting Tyler White at the plate for Houston, and he managed to strikeout White while his bat never left his shoulder. Inning over.

Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on in an extremely rare SIX out save situation with a three-run lead to protect, and somehow, someway he did it.

It was far from easy and certainly very stressful with the Astros cutting their deficit down to two in the eighth and then loading the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Kimbrel was bailed out twice by his stellar outfield.

The first came in eighth, when the aforementioned Tony Kemp tried to stretch a leadoff single into a leadoff double, but his childhood friend, Mookie Betts, had other ideas.

And in the ninth, with two outs and an Astro on every base, Andrew Benintendi made the catch of his life on a screaming line drive off the bat of Alex Bregman that was falling rapidly.

Absolutely unreal. That’s how this ballgame would end only four and a half hours after it started.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros veteran right-hander Charlie Morton, who hadn’t seen any in-game action since the end of September.

Like they did off of Gerrit Cole on Tuesday, the top of the lineup got things started right away in the first, as Mookie Betts and JD Martinez drew a pair of walks to put runners on first and second with one out.

A wild pitch with Xander Bogaerts at the plate would allow both runners to advance into scoring position, but Bogaerts was unable to bring them home.

Fortunately, Rafael Devers, who has seemingly turned into an elite hitter in the postseason, came through with a two out, two RBI single to left field that saw his club take an early 2-0 lead.

Over the next four innings, not only was Morton knocked out of this contest, but a pair of Xander Bogaerts RBI base knocks, one in the third and one in the fifth, gave the Red Sox a two-run lead and then pulled them even with Houston at four runs each.

In the sixth, a red-hot Jackie Bradley Jr. came up looking for his first hit of the evening with two outs and Christian Vazquez at second following a double, and he did just that by smoking a 89 MPH changeup from Astros reliever Josh James 385 feet down the right field line.

That put Boston up 6-5, and they would not have to look back on that lead despite some late inning concerns.

To add on what would become much needed insurance, a Brock Holt bases loaded walk in the seventh, followed by a JD Martinez RBI single in the ninth, would eventually be all the Red Sox would need to go up 3-1 in this American League Championship Series.

Some notes from this 8-6 win:

From @SoxNotes: Most multi-RBI games in an ALCS, Red Sox history: David Ortiz – 4 (2004) Jason Varitek – 3 (2004) Jackie Bradley Jr. – 3 (2018)

Most RBI in an ALCS, Red Sox history: David Ortiz – 11 (2004) Manny Ramirez – 10 (2007) Jackie Bradley Jr. – 9 (2018) Mike Lowell – 8 (2007)

Including the Postseason, the Red Sox are 14-0 in 2018 when Jackie Bradley Jr. hits a home run.

The Red Sox are 4-0 on the road this postseason.

With the opportunity to clinch a spot in the World Series with a win tonight, it will be David Price, not Chris Sale, on the mound for Boston.

Pitching on only four days rest, it appeared as though Price was available to come out of the bullpen if needed on Wednesday, but that did not happen.

In his only other appearance of this series, the southpaw nearly earned the winning decision in 4.2 innings of four-run ball in Game Two at Fenway Park last Sunday.

Opposite Price will be Astros ace Justin Verlander, who allowed just two runs to score over six quality innings of work in a Game One win for Houston.

A lot is on the line Thursday, and first pitch of Game Five is scheduled for 8:09 PM ET on TBS.

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.

 

chart (8).png

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.

 

RECAP: Jackie Bradley Jr.’s Go-Ahead Three-Run Double Lifts #RedSox to 7-5 Win over Astros in Game Two of ALCS.

After dropping a frustrating Game One to the Houston Astros on Saturday night, the Red Sox looked to head to Houston and an off day with this American League Championship Series tied at one game a piece, and that they did.

Making his first start since serving up three runs in a losing effort in Game Two of the ALDS against the New York Yankees last Saturday, David Price attempted to once again exercise his postseason demons against a club he has had more success against over his career.

Pitching into the fifth inning of this one, the left-hander was charged for four earned runs on five hits and four walks to go along with one strikeout on the night.

Similar to Chris Sale on Saturday, control was an issue for Price last night, and that was evident with two walks right away in the top half of the first.

Despite those two early free passes, the Astros didn’t get to the Tennessee native until the second, when with two outs and runners on second and third, George Springer ripped a two-run double to right field.

That tied this contest up at 2-2, but given the circumstances of what happened beforehand, I would not put all of the blame on Price up to that point.

What I would criticize about Price’s performance came an inning later, when with two outs again and a runner at first, Marwin Gonzalez leaned into a 3-2 92 MPH fastball and sent it 397 feet over the Green Monster.

That two-run shot gave Houston their first lead of the night, but that did not last all that long.

As for how the rest of David Price’s night went, well, he sat down six of the final eight Astro hitters he faced following that home run, and was pulled with two outs in the top of the fifth with Marwin Gonzalez due up next.

Finishing with a final pitch count of exactly 80 (50 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his two-seam fastball the most on Sunday, as he turned to it approximately 35% of the time he was on the mound. He also topped out at 93.6 MPH with the same pitch in the first inning and induced seven total swinging strikes.

Although he was unable to officially pick up the winning decision in this one, with the Red Sox coming away with the victory, David Price has finally won one of his postseason starts after 10 career failed attempts beforehand. It certainly wasn’t his best effort, but it was enough to give his team a chance to win, which they capitalized on.

In relief of Price, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final 4.2 innings last night, and Matt Barnes got a solid all around performance from Boston relievers started by striking out Marwin Gonzalez to end the top half of the fifth and strand runners on first and second.

From that point on, Barnes (1-0) recorded three more outs in consecutive order in the sixth to make away for Ryan Brasier in the seventh.

Brasier, making his second appearance of the series, worked his way around a two out walk in an otherwise clean frame of relief.

Rick Porcello, who last served as the set up man for Boston in Game One of the ALDS, took on the role once again in the eighth inning, and he needed just 18 pitches to sit down the side in order.

Finally, Craig Kimbrel came on for the save opportunity with a fresh three-run lead to protect in the ninth.

Despite allowing the tying run to come to the plate after cutting the Astros deficit to two runs, the flame throwing closer managed to hold on and pick up his third save of this postseason by getting Alex Bregman to fly out to left for the third and final out. Disaster averted once again.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole, who had never pitched in a LCS before last night.

Starting the scoring right away in the bottom of the first, back-to-back leadoff hits from Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi plated Betts and gave the Red Sox an early advantage seemingly right away.

Four batters later, with the bases loaded and only out in the inning, Rafael Devers, not Eduardo Nunez, came to the plate as the starting third baseman, and instantly deliverd in his first at bat of the night by beating the shift and lining an RBI double to left field that drove in Benintendi from third. 2-0.

Two innings later, after the Astros had gone up by a pair of runs themselves, the Red Sox bats responded by loading the bases off of Cole for the second time in three innings.

Coming to the plate with runners on each base and two outs in the bottom of the third, Jackie Bradley Jr. delivered with the clutchest hit of the night, a bases-clearing three RBI double down the left field line that put his team up 5-4.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh now, with Cole out and Lance McCullers Jr. in for Houston, Mookie Betts provided some late game insurance by scoring from third on a passed ball with Xander Bogaerts at the plate. 6-4.

And in the eighth, Mookie Betts wrapped up a fine night of scoring from his team by lining a sharp RBI double to center field.

That allowed Rafael Devers, who led the inning against Astros reliever Josh James off with a single, to score all the way from second, and that is all the Red Sox would need to even this series up in a 7-5 victory.

Some notes from this 7-5 win: 

It was reported in the middle of this game that Chris Sale had been sent to Mass General Hospital earlier in the afternoon due to a stomach ailment:

Obviously, that caught everyone a bit off guard and no further updates have been released as I am writing this.

On a more positive note though, Matt Barnes, who earned the winning decision last night, has yet to yield a run over four total relief appearances this postseason.

It’s an off day in Houston for the Red Sox on Monday, but it’s back to business for Game Three of this ALCS at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday.

Nathan Eovaldi and Dallas Keuchel are set to be the starters in what has transitioned into the opening game of a now best-of-five game series.

First pitch of the third game is scheduled for 5:09 PM ET Tuesday on TBS.

Also, shout out to the Patriots for winning their third straight game. It was a good Sunday night in Boston.