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.

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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.

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.

 

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.

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: David Price Shines but Bullpen Falls Apart as #RedSox Drop Series Opener to Astros.

Coming off a sweep of the Atlanta Braves this past week and an off day on Thursday, the 97-44 Boston Red Sox returned to Fenway Park to embark on a nine-game homestand, where they were first greeted by the defending World Series champion Houston Astros for a three-game weekend series.

Earlier in late May/early June, these two teams, arguably the two best in the American League, split a four-game set at Minute Maid Park, with the Astros taking the first two and the Red Sox taking the last two.

Getting the start for this series opener, his 27th of the season, was David Price, who last we saw, took a 103 MPH line drive off his left wrist in the third inning of August 29th’s contest against the Marlins.

The left-hander would have to depart from that outing after that occurred, and nine days later, he was back at it against a team he gave up three runs to in six innings of work back on June 2nd.

Pitching into the seventh inning of this one, Price picked up right where he left off prior to that Marlins start with another stellar performance, as he surrendered just two earned runs on two hits and two walks to go along with 10 strikeouts on the night to tie a season-high.

Retiring 14 straight hitters at one point, the Tennessee native had full control of the strike zone on Friday, and he used that to his full advantage by consistently painting the corners, which led to the double-digit punch outs.

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Finishing with a final pitch count of 101 (57 strikes), Price’s night would come to an end after allowing two of the first three hitters he faced in the seventh to reach base, which would ultimately be the Red Sox’s demise.

Out of those 101 pitches, the 33-year-old hurler turned to his two-seam fastball 44% of the time on Friday, and topped out at 94.2 MPH with that same pitch in the second inning.

Unable to pick up a much deserved winning decision at the fault of his bullpen, Price will look to build on what was a strong start to his month of September in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays, a former club of his, sometime next week.

In relief of Price, Alex Cora turned to Ryan Brasier with one out and runners on first and second in the top half of the seventh.

Brasier closed the book on Price’s outing by allowing both of those inherited runners to score as well as another on a pair of RBI doubles from Yuli Gurriel and Tony Kemp.

Just like that, the Red Sox found themselves trailing in a game they appeared to have full control of.

Joe Kelly was next up for the eighth inning after his team had just tied things up in their half of the seventh.

Despite some solid numbers recently, Kelly found himself struggling once again, as he allowed the first three Astros hitters he faced to reach, which loaded the bases without a single out recorded.

A sacrifice fly off the bat of Carlos Correa gave Houston a brand new lead while the runners on base advanced to scoring position.

That was followed by a wild pitch in the next at bat with Tyler White at the plate, which allowed Jose Altuve to cross the plate.

With White Still up at bat, Kelly could not get a 2-2 85 MPH knuckle curveball by the Astros DH, and he laced it into left field to drive in Alex Bregman from third  and give his team a three-run lead.

Finally, just trying to keep the Red Sox within the three runs they trailed by at this point, Tyler Thornburg worked his way around two singled in a scoreless ninth inning of work, not like it mattered that much at that point.

All and all, here is the final pitching line from the Red Sox bullpen on Friday night:

2.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. Not great.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Astros right-hander Gerrit Cole, who, in his only other start against Boston as an American League hurler, pitched seven innings while allowing three runs to score back on June 1st in Houston.

With the regulars back in the Boston lineup, Cole was solid yet again, although Red Sox hitters did make him work quite a bit.

Starting the scoring right away in this one was JD Martinez, whose sacrifice fly in the first inning drove in Mookie Betts from third to give the Red Sox an early advantage.

Fast forward to the fourth, Xander Bogaerts extended that lead a bit by blasting his 20th home run of the season, a 432 foot shot to dead center.

Three innings later, after the Astros had jumped out to a 3-2 lead, JD Martinez answered right back with an RBI single of his own to pull this thing back at even.

That would be the final Red Sox run of the night, however.

Some notes from this 6-3 loss:

In eight starts since the All-Star break, David Price has posted a 1.78 ERA and .196 BAA over 50.2 innings pitched.

I know RBI are not the greatest statistic but JD Martinez already has 117 of them on September 8th.

Over the last 14 days, the Red Sox bullpen owns a 5.40 ERA in 55 total innings pitched. That’s good for the 26th best ERA in baseball over that span.

Going for their 98th win this evening, it will be Eduardo Rodriguez getting the ball for Boston in his second start since returning from the disabled list.

In his four-year career, the left-handed Rodriguez has only made two starts against the Astros, both of which have come at Fenway Park.

In those two starts, Rodriguez has surrendered six earned runs in a total of 6.2 innings pitched. That’s a good for a 8.10 ERA.

Opposite Rodriguez for this middle game will be another right-hander in Houston’s Charlie Morton, who the Red Sox got to for six runs in less than six innings back on June 3rd, a game Boston ran away with.

First pitch of the middle game of the series is scheduled for 4:05 PM ET Saturday.

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.