Legends On Deck

ALDS: Astros First to Advance

It was a nasty, rainy, muddy day at Fenway Park on Monday afternoon, but the Red Sox had an opportunity to brighten Boston’s day by extending their ALDS series to a decisive game five. After a blowout win in game three, the memories of games one and two in Houston seemed to be distant for Red Sox nation. They had a lot of momentum going into game four, but it takes a little more than momentum to beat the Houston Astros.

The loaded lineup of the AL West champs struck early yet again with a run in the opening frame when Jose Altuve drove in George Springer at the expense of a double play. Xander Bogaerts homered to right center in the home half of the first to even things up and set the tone for a back and forth game. Springer drove in a run in the top of the second and that score would hold until the bottom of the fifth.

Both clubs pulled their starters early. Rick Porcello left after just three innings of two run ball as he was replaced by Chris Sale, and why not when being down a run and facing elimination, in the fourth. It is also worth mentioning that this call did not stem from Manager John Farrell who was ejected in the second inning for arguing balls and strikes. I know, it sounds crazy. The second inning of an elimination game and the manager, who already is on the hot seat, gets tossed for arguing balls and strikes?!?! In reality Farrell came out to protect Dustin Pedroia who was very loudly expressing his displeasure with home plate umpire Mark Wegner’s strike zone.

Astros starter Charlie Morton left after 4 1/3 IP when he walked Bogaerts with one out in the fourth. A.J Hinch decided to match Boston by also bringing their ace out of the bullpen. Justin Verlander entered to face Andrew Benintendi and on the fifth pitch of the at bat, Benny took him yard to give the Sox a 3-2 lead. Verlander would hold the score there over the next 2 2/3 IP.

Sale was still in the game as we entered the eighth inning and he had been pitching lights out up until that point. Then, Astros star rookie Alex Bregman took it upon himself to answer back and tie the game up with a huge homer over the green monster to lead off what would be the fateful eighth. They would take the lead later in the inning and add an insurance run in the top of the ninth.

Ken Giles had come on for a two inning save and after cruising through the eighth, he and the Astros were just three outs away from advancing to the ALCS. He would get those three outs, but not before Rafael Devers led off the ninth with a dramatic inside the park home run off of the center field wall. Ultimately, the Red Sox threatened, but Giles proved to be too much as he retired the next three hitters.

The Astros can celebrate tonight as they gear up for the ALCS where they await the winner between the AL Central champ Cleveland Indians and the Wild Card winning New York Yankees.

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