ALCS Recap: Astros Surpass Red Sox, Punch World Series Ticket

ALCS Recap: Astros Surpass Red Sox, Punch World Series Ticket

by October 23, 2021 1 comment

Success in any sport is largely dominated by momentum. That was the storyline that came out of the ALCS as the Houston Astros won three in a row to complete a comeback series win over the Boston Red Sox.

Houston won Game 1 at home before the Red Sox responded with a dominant Game 2 in which they hit two grand slams and won. Boston hit another slam in Game 3 at Fenway Park, but that was their final victory as the Astros proceeded to go back-to-back-to-back in the win column.

Game 1: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

The Astros took an early lead in this one thanks to Yordan Alvarez, whose sacrifice fly plated Jose Altuve. This was the lone run of Chris Sale‘s outing, though he allowed five hits and failed to escape the third inning. Boston found some early success of its own by scoring three runs in the second inning; an error by Jose Altuve proved to be a massive assist for the Sox. For Boston, Adam Ottavino, Josh Taylor, and Ryan Brazier combined for 2.1 scoreless innings, holding Houston at one run through five frames. However, budding star Tanner Houck permitted a two-run homer off the bat of Jose Altuve, tying the game at three apiece.

Houston took the lead in the seventh inning as Carlos Correa went yard off of Hansel Robles, boastfully tapping his watch in the process. Altuve’s sac fly an inning later gave the Astros insurance. All this time, the Houston bullpen was combining for 5.1 innings of shutout baseball. That streak came to an end when closer Ryan Pressly gave up a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, but it did not matter in the end. Pressly intensified and secured the one-run win, giving Houston an early advantage in the best-of-seven set.

Correa led the way for the Astros, going 3-for-4 with a solo homer. Jose Altuve also impressed by plating three runs and scoring twice. On the mound, Christian Javier’s two-inning, four-strikeout effort cannot be overlooked. As for the Red Sox, Hernández once again offered the lone bright spot by going 4-for-5 with a pair of dingers.

Game 2: Red Sox 9, Astros 5

After a narrow loss the day prior, the Red Sox bounced back in Game 2. Boston got the scoring going with a J.D. Martinez grand slam off Luis Garcia in the first inning followed by a Rafael Devers slam off a well-warmed-up Jake Odorizzi just one inning later. Boston became the first team to hit two slams in one postseason game, as well as the only team with more than one multi-slam game (regular season and postseason) in MLB history. Hernández went yard in the fourth, too. Nathan Eovaldi looked strong for Boston early on, though he was charged with three earned runs after a Kyle Tucker RBI double and Yuli Gurriel RBI single.

Garrett Whitlock looked great out of the bullpen, lasting two clutch innings with one walk, zero hits, and two strikeouts. In fact, besides Eovaldi, Darwinzon Hernandez was the only Sox pitcher to surrender runs with his two-run ninth-inning display. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro homers fueled this late bout for Houston.

Gurriel was the Astros’ best batter in this one, going 2-for-4 with a homer, single, and three RBI. Meanwhile, Blake Taylor and Yimi Garcia combined for one hit, one walk, and five strikeouts in three innings. On the other side of the diamond, Martinez and Devers’ grand slams clearly represented highlights.

Game 3: Red Sox 12, Astros 3

The series shifted to Boston for the first of three games at Fenway Park. Boston took this one by nine runs. The Sox struck for six in the second inning thanks to a Christian Vazquez RBI single, Christian Arroyo fielder’s choice, and Kyle Schwarber grand slam. Astros starter Jose Urquidy allowed six runs over 1.2 innings while Garcia was responsible for three runs over 1.1 frames. In the third inning, Vazquez had another RBI single while Arroyo got involved by slugging a two-run homer. A three-run homer from Kyle Tucker off Eduardo Rodriguez hurt, but the Sox still led. They increased their lead to 12-3 with homers from key power bats in Devers and Martinez.

While the Astros pitching staff had its woes, Boston found some footing in this one. After Rodriguez allowed three runs over six innings, Hansel Robles, Martin Perez, and Hirokazu Sawamura combined for a trio of shutout frames.

Martinez had the biggest day out of all Sox contributors considering he donated a 2-for-3 line with a pair of RBI and a strikeout.

Game 4: Astros 9, Red Sox 2

This is where the wheels fell off for Boston. The two teams kept it close early on, exchanging Alex Bregman and Xander Bogaerts homers to give Boston a 2-1 lead. This score held until the eighth when Garrett Whitlock gave up a solo shot off the bat of Jose Altuve. Houston then struck for seven more in the ninth inning, getting to Nathan Eovaldi for four earned runs and Martin Perez for two.

Yordan Alvarez and Carlos Correa each had multi-hit performances in this one. Michael Brantley also had two hits, adding three RBI in the process. On the mound, the Houston bullpen combined for 7.2 scoreless innings with four hits, four walks, and 10 strikeouts.

Bogaerts led the way for the Red Sox. In addition to being the only Boston player with multiple hits, he racked up two big hits: a homer and double. Starter Nick Pivetta looked great while pitching; his one run over five innings put the Sox in a great place until the final two frames of the contest.

Game 5: Astros 9, Red Sox 1

Once again, Game 5 featured one big inning for the Astros. The pitching was great for both sides early on as a Yordan Alvarez homer off Chris Sale was the only run scored by either team through the first five innings. However, a string of base knocks for Houston in the sixth ultimately charged the southpaw with four runs (two earned) through 5.1 innings. Ryan Brasier replaced him and did not fare any better, allowing a pair of runs. Houston struck for one more on a Brantley single in the seventh. Moments later, Devers hit a solo shot to put Boston on the board. Astros starter Framber Valdez was brilliant, allowing one run, three hits, and five strikeouts over eight innings of work.

To put the icing on the cake, Gurriel laced a two-run single in the ninth, adding to the Astros’ big lead. Martin Perez was responsible for this; he finished with two runs, two hits, and two walks over one frame.

Valdez was the clear Player of the Game, but it would be foolish to overlook Yordan Alvarez, who went 3-for-5 with a single, double, home run, and three RBI. Gururiel also had a three-hit day with a trio of RBI. On the other hand, Boston only recorded three hits, including two off the bat of Rafael Devers. The stretch of games in Boston came to an end with Houston winning, 9-1. As such, they took a 3-2 series lead with them back to Houston for Game 6.

Game 6: Astros 5, Red Sox 0

The Astros followed a similar refrain in the first inning of this one by scoring a run in the first inning. This time, it came on a Yordan Alvarez base knock that was ruled a double but really should have been an error because it hit directly off Kiké Hernández’s glove. Nathan Eovaldi was on the mound for this, and he was able to settle down afterward, lasting 4.1 innings. Houston extended its lead on a peculiar play in the sixth inning: with Tanner Houck pitching, Kyle Tucker scorched a ground ball to Kyle Schwarber at first base. He tagged the runner on first out and stepped on the bag to turn two. He then fired home, attempting to throw out Yordan Alvarez to turn a rare 3-2 triple play, but it was too late. Houston extended its lead to 2-0.

The Red Sox cost themselves big time in the top of the seventh. With runners on the corners and one out, Travis Shaw struck out. At the same time, Alex Verdugo attempted to steal second. Instead, he was thrown out, resulting in an inning-ending double play. It likely didn’t matter in the end, though, as Kyle Tucker’s three-run homer in the eighth gave Houston a 5-0 lead that they preserved through the final frame.

Boston managed zero runs, two hits, two walks, and 10 strikeouts in this one. They also used four pitchers, all of whom allowed at least one run. Houston, on the other hand, benefitted from Yordan Alvarez going 4-for-4 with two singles, a double, and a triple. On the mound, Luis Garcia was brilliant, allowing one hit, one walk, and seven strikeouts over 5.2 scoreless frames. Ryan Pressly closed out the game in the ninth, officially punching Houston’s ticket to the World Series.

Statistics

From an offensive perspective, Yordan Alvarez stole the show in this series, slashing .522/.538/.870 with five extra-base hits and six RBI through six games. Yuli Gurriel impressed, too, reaching base safely in 52 percent of his plate appearances. Meanwhile, Kyle Tucker and Jose Altuve were the lone Astros to hit multiple home runs. The former led the way with eight RBI while the latter led the team in walks (three). Houston did a good job avoiding strikeouts: Carlos Correa had the most on the Astros with seven, which was still lower than five other players in the League Championship Series.

Unsurprisingly, three of those five players ahead of Correa were Red Sox. Xander Bogaerts fanned 10 times, J.D. Martinez nine, and Hunter Renfroe eight. The team did walk a solid amount, with Martinez and Alex Verdugo leading the LCS circuit at five apiece. They also made loud contact: Rafael Devers and Kiké Hernandez homered three times while Martinez went yard twice. Devers and Martinez each had six RBI, which ranks third in the LCS.

Pitching-wise, Valdez accrued a 2.53 ERA through an LCS-leading 10.2 innings. Luis Garcia, who racked up a phenomenal .125 OBA, led in the strikeout department with nine, tying himself with Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi. Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez posted the best WHIP in the LCS, checking in at 0.83.

What’s Next?

The Astros will now take on the winner of the Dodgers-Braves series. The Braves were originally up 2-0 and 3-1, but it’s now 3-2 as the series returns to Atlanta. A winner will be crowned on either Saturday or Sunday evening. Then, the best-of-seven World Series will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 26 on FOX.

One key storyline to watch for the Astros is starter Lance McCullers Jr., who missed the Red Sox series with a forearm injury. He seems unlikely to pitch, but Houston doesn’t have to make a final decision for a few more days.

Series: World Series
Teams: Houston Astros vs. Atlanta Braves
Date: Begins on Oct. 26; time TBD
TV: FOX


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Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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