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.

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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.

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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.

 

RECAP: #RedSox Head Home with a Series Split as Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland Homer Against Astros Again.

Not gonna lie, after the Red Sox lost their second straight game to the Houston Astros on Friday night, I was not feeling too confident about the rest of the series. With Justin Verlander and Charlie Morton taking th mound for the Astros, I honestly thought the Red Sox were going to head back home on Sunday night having gotten swept by arguably the best team in the American League. Instead of that though, they battled back, and thanks to great performances from David Price and Rick Porcello, they left Houston last night with a series split. Not too shabby.

Yup, Porcello made his 13th start of the season in this one, and he found himself working around a solid amount of baserunners all night.

Things did not get off to the best of starts for the righty, as Astros leadoff hitter George Springer greeted Porcello with a solo home run on the third pitch he saw. After that though, the Astros were held to just two runs in the seven innings Porcello appeared in.

As I previously mentioned, Porcello was dealing with runners on base throughout the night. In fact, the Astros led off every inning other than the fourth by reaching base at least once before the first out was recorded. Despite that fact, the Red Sox starter manevured his way around five hits, two walks, and two HBPs in total to earn his eighth winning decision of the season.

When he made his way to the mound for his seventh inning of work with a pitch count of around 75, I thought Porcello had a chance to toss a complete game. Instead, similar to his last time out against the Blue Jays, the New Jersey native sort of let things fall apart in his final frame of work. In neither of those outings did things get away from the Red Sox, but I just find it interesting how in his last two starts, Porcello has surrendered two runs in the seventh inning, and he was not able to finish the seventh in both of those outings.

Anyway, having gotten himself in a bit of a jam with only one out in the seventh, Matt Barnes came on to replace Porcello in a high-leverage situation. Facing Jose Altuve with runners on first and second, the UCONN product retired the side in a big way by striking out Altuve and getting Carlos Correa to ground into an inning-ending force play at second base.

Coming back out for his second inning of work in the eighth, Barnes needed just 15 pitches to retire the side in order and earn his 14th hold of the season. Definitely a great night for him.

With this game out of reach going into the bottom of the ninth, Heath Hembree worked his way around two walks in a scoreless inning of work to wrap this game and series up while also providing us with this epic shot from ESPN.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup struck first for the second night in a row. Andrew Benintendi got things started with a leadoff double off of Astros righty Charlie Morton, and Mitch Moreland brought him home three batters later on his 10th home run of the season.

441 feet with an exit velocity of 107.3 MPH on that shot.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Andrew Benintendi came through with a one out home run on the first pitch he saw from Morton, which just so happened to be an 88 MPH cutter on the inner half of the plate.

406 feet on that home run from Benintendi, with an exit velo. of 103.3 MPH as well on his ninth big fly of the season.

An inning later, back to back hits from Brock Holt and Blake Swihart with runners on base tacked on another three runs to the Red Sox lead and that would be the end of the night for Charlie Morton. Giving up a whopping six runs, this was his worst start of the season.

Things did not fare better for the Astros when they turned to their bullpen though, as Brock Holt struck once again in the eighth inning off of Collin McHugh on an RBI single.

And finally, pinch-hitting for JD Martinez in the ninth, the recently called up Sam Travis came out of nowhere and lined a two-run single off of Ken Giles to put his team up 9-3, which ended up being the final score.

Some notes from this win:

In the ten games he has appeared in since giving up two runs to the Yankees on May 9th, opponents are hitting .135 off of Matt Barnes in 11 shutout innings.

As of May 11th, Andrew Benintendi’s slash line was sitting at .243/.335/.404. In 21 games since then, he is slashing .388/.457/.763 with 7 HR and 23 RBI.

The Red Sox got beat up a little bit on Sunday night. JD Martinez had to exit with back spasms in the ninth inning, Xander Bogaerts appeared to be limping after scoring from second in the ninth, and Eduardo Nunez took a hard groundball off his face at third. Luckily for them, Monday is an off day for the Red Sox, as they will kick off a three game series against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday.

For that opening game, it will be righty Artie Lewicki on the mound for Detroit, while Steven Wright gets the start for Boston. This doesn’t mean that anyone has lost their spot in the rotation, it just means that all the other starters are getting an additional day of rest. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM on Tuesday back at Fenway Park.