Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Sox Drop Frustrating Game 4 Late (10/19/21)

It took 9 games into the post-season but Alex Cora's reliance on analytics FINALLY bit the Boston Red Sox big time. The Red Sox jumped out to a 2-1 lead after the first inning thanks to a Xander Bogaerts home run and Nick Pivetta cruised, holding the Astros to just the one run in 5 innings. Sox manager Alex Cora inexplicably pulled Pivetta after just 65 pitches and three innings later, Jose Altuve made Cora pay with a game tying home run off Garett "The Lock" Whitlock. In the ninth inning Cora insanely put Nathan Eovaldi on 1 day's rest in the game and the Astros pounced on him and later Martin Perez for SEVEN runs. If that wasn't bad enough, the Sox knocked Astros starter Zack Greinke out in the second inning only for the Astros bullpen to throw 7 2/3 scoreless innings while giving up just three hits. It all added up to a maddening, never should have happened 9-2 defeat in Game 4 at Fenway Park.
                                                                   Tie series

The Astros set the tone against Pivetta in the top of the first although Jose Altuve popped up to left to start. Michael Brantley swung and missed at a strike three fastball up in his eyes but Alex Bregman hit a home run all the way to Sri Lanka to put the Astros up three batters into the game. Yordan Alvarez popped up to a running Christian Arroyo to end the inning but the Astros drew first blood and led 1-0.
                                                                 Bregman with a home run

The Sox of the first as Kyle Schwarber popped up to center to start. Kike Hernandez grounded out to short but Rafael Devers walked. Xander Bogaerts then blasted a two run home run completely out of Fenway to put the Sox on top. Alex Verdugo hit a routine grounder to third but Bregman's throw pulled the first basemen off the bag for an error. JD Martinez walked but Renfroe hit a bullet right to Bregman who flipped to second for the out to end the inning with the Sox ahead 2-1.
                                                         Bogaerts puts Boston on top

Pivetta got in trouble in the top of the second although Carlos Correa grounded out to short to start. Kyle Tucker struck out swinging but Devers threw a grounder by Yuli Gurriel away for an error. Chas McCormick walked and a wild pitch moved both runners over but Martin Maldonado flied out to center to end the inning. The Sox blew a rally in the bottom of the second as Christian Vazquez walked to start. Vazquez moved to second on the grounder to first by Christian Arroyo and that was it for Grienke after just 1 1/3 innings. Brooks Raley came in to pitch and walked Schwarber but Hernandez struck out swinging. Devers flied out to right to end the inning, what a waste.

Pivetta cruised in the top of the third as Altuve popped up to third to start. Brantley grounded out to second and Bregman flied out to left to end the inning. Cristian Javier came in to pitch the bottom of the third and Bogaerts grounded out to third to start. Verdugo walked and stole second on the Martinez swinging strikeout but the ice cold Renfroe struck out swinging to end the inning. 

Alvarez walked to start the top of the fourth but Correa hit a bullet to Verdugo in left. Tucker popped up to third and Gurriel popped up to second to end the inning. The Sox blew ANOTHER chance in the bottom of the fourth as Vazquez flied out to right to start. Arroyo hit a scintillating triple into the right field corner but Schwarber hit a pathetic grounder to short and Hernandez hit one up the elevator shaft to end the inning. 

Pivetta cruised in the top of the fifth as McCormick took strike three to start. Maldonado flied out to right and Altuve grounded out to third to end the inning. Even though he was through five innings at just 65 pitches, Sox manager went with the analytics and pulled Pivetta. It would prove fatal a few innings.
                                                            Pivetta gets it done

The Sox blew another rally in the bottom of the fifth as Devers flied out to left to start. Bogaerts doubled to right but Verdugo flied out to left. Martinez went down hacking to end the inning.

Josh Taylor came in to pitch the top of the sixth as Brantley grounded out to second to start. Bregman flied out to right but Alvarez singled to right to chase Taylor. Adam Ottavino came in to get Correa looking to end the inning. Renfroe drew a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the sixth and chase Javier from the game. Phil Maton came in and Vazquez popped up to second. Arroyo struck out swinging and Schwarber flied out to center to end the inning.

Garrett "The Lock" Whitlock came in to pitch the top of the seventh and Tucker flied out to center to start. Gurriel grounded out to short but McCormick singled to right. Jason Castro pinch hit for Maldonado and lined out to first to end the inning. Kendall Graveman came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh and Hernandez grounded out to short to start. Devers flied out to right and Bogaerts struck out swinging to end the inning. The Sox were getting shut completely down by the Astros bullpen they feasted on for two straight days.

The Astros didn't wait around to tie the game in the top of the eighth as Altuve hit a home run to the Klingon Homeworld on the first pitch of the inning to tie the game. Brantley singled to center but Bregman banged into a double play. Alvarez flied out to center to end the inning with the game tied 2-2.
                                                              Altuve does it again

The Sox failed to respond in the bottom of the eighth as Verdugo grounded out to third to start. Martinez struck out swinging but Renfroe walked. Vazquez flied out to left to end the inning. Say what you will about what happened in the 9th, but the fact the Sox were shut out by the Astros bullpen was the key to the game. For some ungodly reason, Cora decided to bring Nathan Eovaldi on 1 day's rest to pitch the top of the ninth and Correa laughed as he smashed a double to right. Tucker struck out swinging and Gurriel was intentionally walked to set up the double play. Aledmys Diaz pinch hit for McCormick struck out swinging to set the stage for Castro. On a 1-2 count, Eovaldi threw a perfect curveball on the outside corner.....called a ball. Castro took advantage by opening the floodgates with with a base hit to center to score Correa to put the Astros ahead. Altuve walked and that was it for Eovaldi. Martin Perez came in and Brantley cleared the bases with a double before Bregman was intentionally walked. Alvarez singled to left to score Brantley and Perez threw a routine grounder by Correa away to score Bregman. Tucker singled home Alvarez as boo's rained down at Fenway. Gurriel flied out to left to end the inning but the Sox inability to make plays cost them seven runs to put the game out of reach 9-2.
                                                       The scoreboard says it all

Jose Siri came in to play center with Ryan Pressly on the mound for the bottom of the ninth. To add insult to injury, the Sox blew one final rally. Travis Shaw pinch hit for Arroyo and took strike three before Schwarber struck out swinging. Hernandez and Devers stroked back to back singles before both runners moved over on a passed ball. Bogaerts struck out swinging to end the game. The Sox got embarrassed and lost the game 9-2.
                                                              Astros win

Jackass of the Night is Nathan Eovaldi. He shouldn't have been brought in but he was one strike away from getting out of the inning and instead gave up the winning run.
                                                     Jackass Eovaldi


The Good:

Xander Bogaerts was 2 for 5 with a home run.

Hunter Renfroe waked twice in four plate appearances.

Christian Arroyo was 1 for 3.

Nick Pivetta tossed 5 innings of 1 run ball.

Josh Taylor got the first two outs of the sixth inning.

Adam Ottavino got the final out of the sixth inning.



The Bad:

Travis Shaw struck out as a pinch hitter.

Martin Perez allowed 3 inherited runners to score and 3 of his own.



The Ugly:

Kyle Schwarber was 0 for 4 with a strikeout but walked.

Kike Hernandez was just 1 for 5 with a strikeout.

Rafael Devers was just 1 for 4 with a walk but scored a run.

Alex Verdugo was 0 for 3 but walked.

JD Martinez was 0 for 3 with a hat trick of 3 strikeouts but walked.

Christian Vazquez was 0 for 3 but walked.

Garrett Whitlock allowed a run in 2 innings of work.




Final Thoughts:

This game was an unmitigated disaster and I called it all the way back in April. Cora was pulling starters all year long in the middle of no-hitters, perfect games and after just 60-70 pitches and it FINALLY bit him in the ass. Pivetta could have easily gone seven innings and then you could mix and match in the eighth inning. Still, it shouldn't have come to trying to hang on to a one run lead if the bats didn't hibernate after Greinke left the game. The Astros bullpen pitched a 7 2/3 inning shutout and that was was after the Sox scored 21 runs the previous two games combined. I don't want to hear that Eovaldi got robbed, one more pitch and he was out of the inning anyway. Still, he should have never been brought in to begin with. If Cora didn't burn the A-Team out from April to July, a healthy functioning Matt Barnes would have slammed the door. Its been proven for decades you don't trust a rookie in the playoffs and that's twice now Altuve has taken Whitlock deep in the eighth inning. All in all the downside of Cora reared its ugly head and it was bound to happen. The Sox aren't playing the Tampa Bay Rays anymore, the Astros know what it takes to get to the World Series. You're not going to beat them by putting Martin Perez in to clean up a mess or putting an exhausted starter in the ninth inning of a tied game. The only silver lining is the Astros have had to go to the bullpen early in three straight games, the Sox need to strike tomorrow early and build a lead. As for this game, this could be the momentum shifter for Houston. The Sox look to bounce back tomorrow afternoon in pivotal Game 5 when Chris Sale takes the mound against Framber Valdez. The game begins at 5:05 PM at Fenway Park.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Sox Pound Astros, Take Game 3 (10/18/21)

Don't look now but the Boston Red Sox are halfway to the 2021 World Series after laying waste to the bungholes of the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. Kyle Schwarber capped off a six run second inning rally with a grand slam and the Sox bats were relentless the rest of the night. JD Martinez, Christian Arroyo and Rafael Devers all went yard as the Sox pounded out 12 runs off 11 hits. On the other side of the ball Eduardo Rodriguez pitched his best post-season game of his career. Rodriguez stepped up his velocity and survived a three run home run by Kyle Tucker to hold the high powered Astros to just three runs. The Sox bullpen tossed shutout ball the rest of the way and the Sox cruised to an easy 12-3 victory in Game 3 at Fenway Park.
                                                      Halfway to the World Series

Rodriguez got the ball in the top of the first inning and Jose Altuve flied out to the centerfield wall to start. Michael Brantley struck out swinging on a 95 mph fastball and Rafael Devers made a great diving place to rob Alex Bregman of a single to end the inning. Jose Urquidy got the ball in the bottom of the first and Kyle Schwarber flied out to right to begin. Kike Hernandez popped up to first and Devers popped up to Bregman to end the inning.

Rodriguez turned up the heat in the top of the second as Yordan Alvarez swung and missed at a nasty slider for strike three to start. Carlos Correa took a sick cutter for strike three and Kyle Tucker whiffed to end the inning. The Sox blew rallied in the bottom of the second as Xander Bogaerts struck out swinging to start. Alex Verudgo walked, JD Martinez doubled off the Monster and Hunter Renfroe walked to load the bases. Christian Vazquez dumped a base hit to right to score Verdugo to put the Sox on top and Jose Altuve bobbled a Christian Arroyo double play ball to score Martinez on the error. Schwarber made Urquidy pay with a grand slam to right to put the Astros in a huge hole. Hernandez followed with a base hit to left but Devers popped up to center. Bogaerts ripped a base hit to center and FINALLY Astros manager Dusty Baker pulled Uquidy. Yimi Garcia came in to pitch and uncorked a wild pitch to move both runners over. Verdugo flied out to center to end the inning but the Sox led 6-0.
                                                        Party time at Fenway

Rodriguez stayed tough in the top of the third although Yuli Gurriel ripped a base hit to center to start. Hernandez made a diving catch to rob Jose Siri of a base hit and Martin Maldonado struck out swinging on a 92 mph fastball. Altuve grounded out to short to end the inning.

The Sox poured it on in the bottom of the third as Martinez struck out swinging to start. Renfroe walked and took off for second, moving to third when Maldonado threw the ball away. Vazquez singled to left to score Renfroe and Arroyo smashed a two run home run to add to the lead. Schwarber grounded out to first but Hernandez ripped a base hit to left. Devers flied out to right to end the inning with the Sox up 9-0.
                                           Arroyo crushes one into the Monster Seats

The Astros roared back as Rodriguez' velocity faded in the top of the fourth. Brantley effortlessly singled to right but Bregman somehow popped up to second. Alvarez singled high off the Monster but somehow Correa popped up to short. Tucker then hit a 3 rub home run into the Atlantic Ocean to put the Astros back in it. Gurriel singled over the head of Arroyo but Devers made a great play to rob Siri of a hit to end the inning. The Astros had rallied but still trailed 9-3.
                                                           Tucker inches the Astros closer

Blake Taylor came in to pitch the bottom of the fourth and Bogaerts flied out to center to start. Verdugo ripped a base hit to left and Martinez walked, but Renfroe struck out swinging. Vazquez flied out to right to end the inning.

Rodriguez had a huge bounce back inning in the top of the fifth as Maldonado took strike three to start. Altuve flied out to right and Brantley hit one up the elevator shaft to end the inning. Brooks Raley came in to pitch the bottom of the fifth and Arroyo grounded out to third to start. Schwarber flied out to left and Hernandez popped up to first to end the inning.

Rodriguez would not be denied in the top of the sixth as Bregman hit a bullet to Hernandez to start. Alvarez went down hacking and Correa grounded out to second to end the inning. Rodriguez then turned and looked at Correa while pointing at his wrist as a bit of an F--- You. Sox manager Alex Cora was caught on camera telling E-Rod never to do that again but internally was happy. Rodriguez pitched his best postseason game of his career, holding the Astros to 3 runs in 6 innings. He struck out 7 and walked nobody, good stuff.
                                              "Nooooo! Noooooo!!!"

Moved by E-Rod's effort, the Sox added to the lead in the bottom of the sixth as Devers walked to start. Bogaerts struck out swinging and Verdugo flied out to center to chase Raley. Astros manager Dusty Baker brought in Phil Maton to pitch to Martinez and JD hit a no doubt two run bomb into the Monster Seats to ice the game. Renfroe grounded out to third to end the inning with the Sox ahead 11-3.
                                                      Martinez launches another one

Danny Santana came in for Hernandez and Hansel Robles came in to pitch the top of the seventh inning. Tucker walked on four straight pitches not even close but Gurriel banged into a double play. Siri popped up to first to end the inning. Aledmys Diaz came in for Gurriel and Jason Castro came in to catch the bottom of the seventh. Vazquez flied out to right and Arroyo grounded out to short before Bobby Dalbec pinch hit for Schwarber. Dalbec struck out swinging to end the inning.

Martin Perez came in to pitch the top of the eighth inning as Castro walked to start. Altuve banged into a double play and Chas McCormick pinch hit for Brantley. McCormick flied out to left to end the inning. The Sox wrapped up the scoring in the bottom of the eighth with Ryne Stanek now on the mound. Santana struck out swinging but Devers clobbered an opposite field home run into the Monster Seats to light up the crowd. Bogaerts struck out swinging and Verdugo grounded back to the mound to end the inning with the Sox ahead 12-3.
                                                      Devers with one last home run

Hiro Sawamura came in to mop up the top of the ninth and Bregman struck out swinging to start. Alvarez hit a bullet but right to Arroyo in shallow right and Renfroe made a great sliding catch off a Correa line drive to end the game. The Sox had won it 12-3.
                                                           Sox win


Hero of the Night is Eduardo Rodriguez. He held the high powered Astros to just 3 runs in 6 innings to earn the win.
                                                      Rodriguez the TIMEly Hero


The Good:

Kike Hernandez was 2 for 4.

JD Martinez was 2 for 3 with a walk, 2 total runs scored and a 2 run home run.

Hunter Renfroe walked twice, stole a base and scored two runs.

Christian Vazquez was 2 for 4 with 2 rbis and 2 runs scored.

Hansel Robles pitched a scoreless seventh inning.

Martin Perez pitched a scoreless eighth inning.

Hiro Sawamura pitched a scoreless ninth inning.



The Bad:

Bobby Dalbec struck out as a pinch hitter.

Danny Santana struck out in his only plate appearance.



The Ugly:

Kyle Schwarber was just 1 for 4 but the one hit was a grand slam.

Rafael Devers was just 1 for 4 but walked, hit a home run and scored 2 runs.

Xander Bogaerts was just 1 for 5 but had a hat trick of 3 strikeouts.

Alex Verdugo was just 1 for 4 but walked and scored a run.

Christian Arroyo was just 1 for 4 but scored two runs, hit a two run homer and drove in 3 total runs.




Final Thoughts:

Three games into the ALCS and this has been the most prolific Red Sox offense in October EVER. Not even the 2003-05 Idiots, 2007 corporate champs, 2013 Bearded Brothers or the 2018 team had poured it on like this in eight post-season games. The Sox have already hit a record 20 home runs and no team has ever hit 3 grand slams in a single post-season series. The Astros are missing Lance McCullers but losing the likes of Justin Verlander and Gerritt Cole has crippled their starters. The Astros had the number 2 offense in baseball which carried them during the regular season but they've been held mostly in check the first three games this series. The Astros are reeling and going to the bullpen in the third inning three games in a row is going to take its toll as the series goes on. Tomorrow night the Sox have Garrett "The Lock" Whitlock, Adam Ottavino and Tanner Houck ready to roll if Nick Pivetta falters while the Astros have god knows what if Zack Greinke can't go. So far everything is coming up Red Sox but the series is far from over. Still, after the last two years Sox fans need something to cheer about so they'll be celebrating tonight. As if the game wasn't fun enough, David Ortiz on the FS1 postgame had the Fenway faithful partying throughout the half hour show. Chants of "Yankees suck" and "Papi! Papi! Papi!" were so loud you could barely hear Ortiz or A-Rod talk. As fun as tonight was, the Sox have two more wins to get to reach the Fall Classic Tomorrow night the Sox look to go for the jugular when they send Nick Pivetta to the mound against 37 year old Zack Greinke of the Astros. The game begins at 8:05 PM at Fenway Park.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Sox Outslug Astros, Take Game 2 (10/16/21)

At least the Boston Red Sox won't be swept in the American League Championship Series. The Sox made history against the Houston Astros in Game 2 as they became the first team in post-season history to hit grand slams in consecutive innings. JD Martinez set the tone with a first inning grand slam against Houston starter Luis Garcia. The following inning Rafael Devers hit another grand slam off Jake Odorizzi to pretty much ice the game early. Kike Hernandez made some history of his own by tying the single post-postseason record for home runs with his fifth. Nathan Eovaldi held the high powered Astros offense to 3 runs in 5 1/3 innings to earn the win as Adam Ottavino and Garrett Whitlock continued to keep the Astros off the board. Darwinzon Hernandez allowed two home runs in the ninth inning but Ryan Brasier slammed the door to send the series back to Boston tied with a 9-5 victory in Game 2 at Minute Maid Park.
                                                               "Yeahhhh we won!" - Cora

The Sox wasted no time getting to Garcia in the top of the first inning as Kyle Schwarber led off with a double to right. Chas McCormick made a great diving catch to rob Kike Hernandez of a bloop single but Rafael Devers walked. Xander Bogaerts struck out swinging but Alex Verdugo walked. JD Martinez put the Sox on top with a grand slam although Hunter Renfroe struck out swinging to end the inning with the Sox ahead 4-0.
                                                              Grand Slam Martinez

Eovaldi got the ball in the bottom of the first and Jose Altuve grounded out to short to start. Michael Brantley grounded out to second but Alex Bregman singled to left. Yordan Alvarez lined out to center to end the inning.

Kevin Plawecki walked on four pitches not even close to start the top of the second and Garcia started grabbing his knee. Sure enough, Houston's starter was done after one inning and old Tampa Bay Rays nemesis Jake Odorizzi came in to pitch. Christian Arroyo singled to right but Schwarber went down hacking. Hernandez got a base hit to left to load the bases and Devers made ML history with a grand slam to ice the game. No team had hit two grand slams in consecutive innings in the playoffs before. Bogaerts popped up to first but Verdugo singled to left. Martinez grounded back to the mound to end the inning with the Sox ahead 8-0.
                                                             Grand Slam Devers

Eovaldi kept the lead in the bottom of the second as Carlos Correa hit one up the elevator shaft to start. Kyle Tuckler grounded out to first and Yuli Gurriel popped up to second to end the inning.

Renfroe struck out swinging to start the top of the third before Plawecki flied out to center. Arroyo grounded out to third to end the inning. McCormick struck out swinging to begin the bottom of the third before Martin Maldonado grounded out to short. Altuve hit one up the elevator shaft to end the inning.

The Sox had another record in the top of the fourth although Schwarber struck out swinging to start. Hernandez then joined an exclusive club including Todd Walker and David Ortiz with his fifth home run in a single post-season. Devers took strike three but Bogaerts got a base hit to center. Verdugo hit a ground rule double to right but Martinez took a full count strike three down the middle to end the inning with the Sox ahead 9-0.
                                                  5th home run for Hernandez this October

The Astros rallied in the bottom of the fourth as Hernandez made a running grab to rob Brantley of extra bases to start. Bregman grounded out to second but Alvarez walked. Correa blooped a single to right and Tucker just missed a home run by inches, settling for an rbi double off the left field wall to score Alvarez. Sox pitching coach Dave Bush sprinted to the mound to tell Eovaldi that radar spelled backwards is radar and Gurriel sliced a base hit to right to score both runners. McCormick struck out swinging to end the inning with the Astros inching closer down 9-3.
                                                    Astros fight back

The Sox did nothing in the top of the fifth as Renfroe grounded out to third to start. Plawecki popped up to third and Arroyo flied out to left to end the inning. Eovaldi recovered in the bottom of the fifth as Maldonado struck out swinging to start. Altuve popped up to first and Brantley grounded out to short to end the inning.

Blake Taylor came in to pitch the top of the sixth and Schwarber took strike three to start. Hernandez watched strike three go by and Devers grounded out to short to end the inning. The Astros almost rallied in the bottom of the sixth as Bregman popped up to first to start. Naturally Alvarez ripped a base hit to right and Sox manager Dr. Quick Hook Cora pulled Eovaldi at the first sign of trouble AGAIN. Eovaldi allowed 3 runs in 5 1/3 innings as Cora made the bullpen have to get the remaining 11 outs. Adam Ottavino came in and somehow struck out Correa swinging but Tucker moved Alvarez to third with a base hit to center. Gurriel grounded out to third to end the inning.
                                                             Eovaldi gets the job done

Bogaerts struck out swinging to start the top of the seventh before Verdugo lined out to center. Martinez ripped a base hit to center but Yimi Garcia replaced Taylor. Renfroe struck out swinging to end the inning. Garrett "The Lock" Whitlock came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh and McCormick struck out swinging to start. Jason Castro pinch hit for Maldonado and walked but Altuve flied out to center. Brantley grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Sox blew a rally in the top of the eighth as Vazquez took strike three to start. Arroyo grounded out to second but Schwarber walked. Bobby Dalbec pinch ran for Schwarber, Hernandez was plunked and Devers popped up to first to end the inning. The Lock returned for the bottom of the eighth and Bregman went down hacking to start. Alvarez popped up to shallow left and Correa grounded out to short to end the inning.

Ryne Stanek came in to pitch the top of the ninth and Bogaerts greeted him with a leadoff double into the right field corner out of the reach of Tucker to start. Verdugo moved Bogaerts to third with a grounder to first but Martinez just happened to hit a rocket right to third, getting Bogaerts tagged out on the double play to end the inning. Darwinzon Hernandez came in to close out the bottom of the ninth and Tucker went down hacking to start. Gurriel hit a home run all the way to Oklahoma to cut the lead but Aledmys Diaz pinch hit for McCormick. Diaz struck out swinging but Castro hit a home run to Santo Domingo to cut the lead even more. Sox manager Alex Cora had enough of Darwinzon and replaced him with Ryan Brasier. Altuve hit one to the left field wall but Verdugo made the catch to end the game. The Sox had won it 9-5.
                                                             Sox win


Hero of the Night is JD Martinez. His grand slam in the first inning set the tone for the game.
                                                                JD Hero


The Good:

Kike Hernandez was 2 for 4 with a home run and 2 runs scored.

Xander Bogaerts was 2 for 5.

Alex Verdugo was 2 for 4 with a walk and a run scored.

Nathan Eovaldi got the win with 5 1/3 innings of 1 run ball. He struck out 3 and walked just 1 batter.

Adam Ottavino got the final two outs of the sixth inning.

Garrett Whitlock tossed 2 scoreless innings.



The Bad:

Hunter Renfroe was 0 for 4 with a hat trick of 3 strikeouts.

Christian Vazquez struck out in his only plate appearance.

Darwinzon Hernandez allowed two home runs in the ninth inning.



The Ugly:

Kyle Schwarber was just 1 for 4 with a hat trick of 3 strikeouts but scored a run.

Rafael Devers was just 1 for 4 with a walk but the one hit was a grand slam.

Kevin Plawecki was 0 for 2 but walked and scored.

Christian Arroyo was just 1 for 4 but scored a run.



Honorable Mention:

Bobby Dalbec pinch ran and played first base.




Final Thoughts:

The Red Sox are in big trouble, that's for sure. Yes, the Sox won the game but the Astros still put 5 runs on the board in a game they were hopelessly behind. If they're going to be averaging 5 runs a game, the Sox don't stand much of a chance in a seven game series. Still, a win is a win and the Sox needed both grand slams to ice the game early. Eovaldi pitched well but Cora pulling him in the sixth inning has gotten old this season. Its only a matter of time before the bullpen implodes, but until then its time to enjoy the win. Hernandez has reached Todd Walker status just 2 games into the ALCS and there's at least three more games to play to break the record. If the Sox offense can continue to roll, they'll be able to hang with the Astros. Historically the Astros are better at home but now they must play the next three games at Fenway Park. The Sox HAVE to win at least one of them if they want to push this to Game 6 where Eovaldi goes again. The Sox pitching needs to improve in a hurry because they're not going to survive giving up 4-5 runs a game, or possibly more. Still, Eovaldi pitched well and the bats showed up today to get the win. As crazy as it sounds, especially going into the season, the Sox are three wins away from the World Series. The series resumes Monday night with Jose Urquidy going for the Astros against Eduardo Rodriguez for the Sox at 8:05 PM at Fenway Park.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Astros Edge Sox, Take Game 1 (10/15/21)

Before the game the Boston Red Sox made two roster moves before the American League Championship Series began. Matt Barnes and Austin Davis were removed from the roster as Darwinzon Hernandez and Hiro Sawamura have been added. Davis had been inconsistent since the Sox traded for him in July and Matt Barnes never recovered the mojo he had from April to July. Hernandez gives them a power lefty and Sawamura hopefully can resurrect the magic he had from April to July as well.
                                                                       OUT
                                                                   IN

As for the game, the Houston Astros showed why they've been close to or in the World Series for the last 5 years now. The Boston Red Sox had a 3-1 lead after 5 innings but the vaunted Astros offense demolished the Red Sox bullpen for 4 runs in the later innings. Jose Altuve hit a 2 run home run off Tanner Houck to tie it in the sixth, Carlos Correa hit a solo home run off Hansel Robles to put the Astros up in the seventh and the Astros got another run in the eighth inning to ice it. Kike Hernandez provided the Sox only offense with a home run in the third and a home run in the ninth but it wasn't enough as the Astros drew first blood with a 5-4 Game 1 win at Minute Maid Park.

Framber Valdez got the ball in the top of the first inning and Kike Hernandez led off by beating the shift with a base hit to start. Kyle Schwarber banged into a double play although Xander Bogaerts drew a walk. Rafael Devers blooped a base hit right in front of Alex Bregman and Bogaerts motored around to third. JD Martinez walked to load the bases but Hunter Renfroe lined out to center to end the inning. The Astros wasted no time getting to Sale in the bottom of the first as Jose Altuve walked to start. Michael Brantley lined out to center but Alex Bregman singled to left. A wild pitch moved both runners over and Yordan Alvarez scored Altuve with a sac fly to left. Carlos Correa grounded out to second to end the inning with the Astros up 1-0.
                                                              Astros strike first

The Sox failed to respond in the top of the second although Alex Verdugo got a base hit to left to start. Christian Arroyo banged into a double play and Christian Vazquez struck out swinging to end the inning. Sale got in trouble again in the bottom of the second as Kyle Tucker popped up to second to start. Yuli Gurriel and Chas McCormick both singled to left before Martin Maldonado was plunked to load the bases. Somehow Sale struck out Altuve swinging and Hernandez made a great diving catch to end the inning.
                                                               Hernandez with a great catch

Speaking of Hernandez, it was him who hit a leadoff home run to tie the game in the top of the third to start the frame. Schwarber grounded out to short but Bogaerts walked. Devers singled to center and Altuve booted a grounder by Martinez to score Bogaerts on the error. Renfroe doubled to left to score Devers  but Verdugo struck out swinging to chase Valdez. Yimi Garcia came in and Arroyo struck out swinging to end the inning with the Sox ahead 3-1.
                                                       Hernandez does it all

Dr Quick Hook Cora appeared in the bottom of the third although Bregman grounded out to short to start. Alvarez and Correa stroked back to back base hits but Sale struck out Tucker swinging. Sox manager Alex Cora bounded out of the dugout and decided to cut his losses before any further damage could be done, pulling Sale after just 8 outs. Adam Ottavino got Gurriel to ground out to second to end the inning but the Sox bullpen now had to get the next 19 outs.
                                                        Sale doesn't last long

Cristian Javier came in to pitch the top of the fourth and Vazquez flied out to right to start. Hernandez doubled to left but Schwarber struck out swinging. Bogaerts also went down hacking to end the inning. Ottavino cruised in the bottom of the fourth as McCormick struck out swinging to start. Maldonado flied out to right and Altuve grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Sox did nothing in the top of the fifth as Devers flied out to right to start. Martinez took strike three and Renfroe went down hacking to end the inning. Josh Taylor came in to pitch the bottom of the fifth and Brantley singled to center to start. Bregman flied out to center and Alvarez struck out swinging to bring Cora out of the dugout. Ryan Brasier was summoned to face Correa and Carlos ripped a base hit to left. Tucker lined out to center to end the inning with no damage.

Phil Maton came in to pitch the top of the sixth and Verdugo walked to start. Arroyo looked to have actually beat out a bunt attempt but Astros manager Dusty Baker challenged the call. Sure enough, Arroyo was called out and all Vazquez could do was move Verdugo to third with a grounder. Hernandez went down hacking to end the inning. Taylor Houck came in to crap his pants in the bottom of the sixth as Gurriel hit one up the elevator shaft to start. McCormick singled to center but Maldonado flied out to left. The Sox were 10 outs from victory but naturally Altuve hit a home run all the way to San Antonio to tie the game. Brantley took strike three to end the inning with the game tied 3-3.
                                                               Altuve ties it up

Brooks Raley came in to pitch the top of the seventh and Schwarber singled to left to start. Bogaerts struck out swinging but Devers flied out to center to chase Raley. Ryan Stanek came in and Martinez grounded into a force to end the inning. The Astros took command in the bottom of the seventh with Hansel Robles now on the mound. Bregman grounded out to short to start and Alvarez went down hacking....but Correa hit a home run all the way to Austin, Texas to put the Astros up for good. Tucker grounded out to first to end the inning with the Astros up 4-3.
                                                            Astros jump in front

The Sox failed to respond in the top of the eighth as Kendall Graveman came in to pitch. Danny Santana pinch hit for Renfroe and struck out swinging before Verdugo flied out to center. Arroyo got a base hit to left and Travis Shaw pinch hit for Vazquez only to fly out to right to end the inning. Kevin Plawecki came in to catch with Hiro Sawamura in to pitch the bottom of the eighth. Gurriel walked, McCormick singled to left and Maldonado was plunked to load the bases with nobody out. Altuve hit a sac fly to score Gurriel and that was it for Sawamura. Martin Perez came in to get Brantley to hit into a double play to end the inning but the Astros had iced it with a 5-3 lead.
                                                           Safe at home

Ryan Pressly came in to close out the top of the ninth and Hernandez greeted him with a solo home run to put the Sox within one. That was it though as Schwarber grounded out to second, Bogaerts grounded out to short and Devers grounded out to short as well to end the game. The Astros had survived Kike Hernandez and won the game 5-4.
                                                    Astros take Game 1


Jackass of the Night is Hiro Sawamura. The run he was allowed ended up being the difference in the game.
                                                        Sawamura Jackass


The Good:

Kike Hernandez was 4 for 5 with 2 solo home runs.

Rafael Devers was 2 for 5 with a run scored.

Hunter Renfroe was 1 for 3 with an rbi.

Alex Verdugo was 1 for 3 with a walk.

Christian Arroyo was 1 for 3.



The Bad:

Danny Santana struck out as a pinch hitter.

Christian Vazquez was 0 for 3 with a strikeout.

Travis Shaw was 0 for 1 as a pinch hitter.



The Ugly:

Kyle Schwarber was just 1 for 5 with a strikeout.

Xander Bogaerts was 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts but walked twice and scored a run.

JD Martinez was 0 for 3 with a strikeout but walked.



Honorable Mention:

Kevin Plawecki caught the bottom of the eighth.




Final Thoughts:

This game was a sucker punch to the gonads. The Sox bats were silenced by the Astros bullpen after Framber Valdez was out of the game and the Sox bullpen imploded after the fifth inning. The Astros offense is damn good, the second best in all of baseball, but the Sox can't afford to get into grinders with them. Chris Sale once again wasn't ready for primetime and the Sox are better off shutting him down if this continues. At this point Martin Perez has a better chance to go 5 innings than Sale does. Even then, had Houck, Sawamura and Robles done their job the Sox would have won. Thankfully this is only the first game and its a Best of 7. This is no time to panic but this definitely was a lot more disconcerting if they had simply lost 7-1 or 9-8. Still, Hernandez is on a roll and hopefully the Sox just took their best punch and can come back tomorrow. The Sox look to bounce back tomorrow afternoon in Game 2 when Nathan Eovaldi goes for the Sox up against Luis Garcia of the Astros. The game begins at 4:20 PM at Minute Maid Park

Monday, October 11, 2021

Sox Walkoff Rays Again in Game 4, Advance to ALCS (10/11/21)

For five innings it looked like the Boston Red Sox were going to cruise to the American League Championship Series in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays. Eduardo Rodriguez had held the 100 win Rays to 1 run while the Red Sox offense pounded out 5 runs, 3 of which on a Rafael Devers home run. Then the Sox committed one of the biggest post-season chokes since Game 7 against the New York Yankees. Tanner Houck allowed a two run jack to Wander Franco in the sixth and Ryan Brasier allowed three straight hits to tie the game. Then the momentum shifted as Garrett Whitlock dominated the Rays the final two innings to send the stage for the bottom of the ninth. Christian Vazquez drew a leadoff walk and Christian Arroyo dropped down a bunt to move him over. Pinch hitter Travis Shaw hit a roller to Yandy Diaz who threw low to Ji-Man Choi to put runners at the corners. Kike Hernandez did the honors with a sac fly to left to score pinch runner Danny Santana to send the underdog Red Sox to the American League Championship Series with a 6-5 victory at Fenway Park.
                                                     WE'RE GOING TO THE ALCS!!

Eduardo Rodriguez got the ball to start the top of the first inning and got some help from his defense when Hunter Renfroe snared a line drive by Randy Arozarena to start. Wander Franco was frozen for strike three and the ice cold Brandon Lowe struck out swinging to end the inning. Collin McHugh got the ball to start the bottom of the first and Kyle Schwarber grounded out to short to start. Arozarena made a great running catch on a Kike Hernandez line drive but Rafael Devers dropped a base hit to right. Xander Bogaerts looked to have beat out a ground ball to short but Rays manager Kevin Cash challenged the call to overturn it for the third out to end the inning.

Rodriguez cruised in the top of the second as Nelson Cruz took strike three to start. Jordan Luplow struck out swinging and Yandy Diaz grounded out to third to end the inning. The Sox just missed in the bottom of the second as Alex Verdugo flied out to the centerfield wall to start. Kevin Kiermaier made a great diving catch to rob JD Martinez of a hit before Hunter Renfroe also flied out to the centerfield wall to end the inning.

Austin Meadows went down hacking to begin the top of the third before Mike Zunino popped up to second. Kiermaier grounded out to third to end the inning. Rays manager Kevin Cash made a fatal error by taking McHugh out and bringing in rookie Shane McClanahan to pitch the bottom of the third inning. Christian Vazquez got a base hit to center although Christian Arroyo flied out to right. Schwarber drew a walk but Hernandez flied out to left. Devers got the party started with a no doubt 3 run blast to center to put Boston on top. Bogaerts ripped a base hit to left and Verdugo belted a double off the Monster to score Xander. Martinez singled to left to score Verdugo and that was it for McClanahan. JT Chargois came in and Renfroe greeted him with a double to center. The game turned when Vazquez struck out to end the inning. The Sox led 5-0 but one more hit would have broke the Rays.
                                                             Devers hits a big bomb

Rodriguez did his part in the top of the fourth although Arozarena singled to right to start. Franco popped up to first, Lowe struck out swinging and Cruz popped up to second to end the inning. Andrew Kittredge came in for the bottom of the fourth and Arroyo grounded out to short to start. Schwarber popped up to second and Hernandez grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Rays struck back in the top of the fifth inning as Luplow doubled to left to start. Diaz moved Luplow to third with a flyout to center and Jordan scored on the grounder to first by Meadows. Zunino grounded out to first to end the inning but the Rays were down 5-1.
                                                   Rodriguez looked good after 5

The Sox did nothing in the bottom of the fifth as Devers flied out to left to start. Bogaerts flied out to right and Verdugo flied out to left to end the inning.

Rodriguez returned to start the top of the sixth but Kiermaier led off with a double to left to chase him. He did his job but Tanner Houck did not when he came in. Arozarena flied out to center but Franco hit a ball all the way to Metlife Stadium in New Jersey to inch Tampa closer. Lowe struck out swinging again and Cruz flied out to right to end the inning but Tampa was down 5-3.
                                                         Arozarena with a bomb

Luis Patino came in to pitch the bottom of the sixth and Martinez dropped a base hit to left to start. Renfroe and Vazquez both struck out swinging before Arroyo grounded out to third to end the inning.

Ji-Man Choi was sent in to pinch hit for Luplow but Sox manager Alex Cora countered by bringing in lefty Josh Taylor. Taylor struck Choi out swinging before Diaz flied out to center. Meadows grounded out to second to end the inning. Josh Fleming came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh and the Sox gagged. Schwarber grounded out to first to start before Hernandez singled to left. Devers ripped a base hit to center to put runners at the corners and chase Fleming. Pete Fairbanks came in and Bogaerts gagged by hitting into a double play to end the inning.

Cora then made the wrong move by sending in Ryan Brasier to pitch the top of the eighth. Bobby Dalbec came in to play first but Zunino doubled to right to start. Kiermaier got revenge for last night by doubling to right to score Zunino and Arozarena dumped a base hit to right. Renfroe threw home but missed Kiermaier scoring by a mile and Arozarena took second. That was it for Brasier as Garrett "The Lock" Whitlock was summoned to stop the bleeding with the game tied and a man on second with nobody out. Franco flied out to right but Renfroe's throw to third missed both Bogaerts and Devers, luckily Whitlock backed up the throw. Lowe grounded back to the mound and Cruz grounded out to third to end the inning with the game tied 5-5.
                                                            Rays tie it

Once again the Sox failed to score in the bottom of the eighth as Franco threw a ball hit by Verdugo away to start. Verdugo took second on the play but Martinez failed to advance him with a fly out to right. Renfroe then hit a ball to Kiermaier who gunned down Verdugo to end the inning....BUT WAIT! Sox manager Alex Cora challenged that Verdugo beat the tag. He did....but his hand came off the base and the call was upheld.
                                                     Yerrrrrr out!

Whitlock returned for the top of the ninth and Choi grounded out to first to start. Diaz grounded out to second and Meadows flied out to left to end the inning. JP Feyereisen came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth and Vazquez lined a base hit up the middle to start. Arroyo dropped down a perfect bunt to move Vazquez to second and Travis Shaw pinch hit for Dalbec. Shaw hit a little roller to third and Diaz threw low to Choi and both runners were safe. Danny Santana was sent in to run for Vazquez and Hernandez drove him in with a sac fly to left to win the game. The Sox had knocked out the Rays 3 games to 1 to head to the ALCS with a 6-5 Game 4 win.
                                                       RED SOX WIN!!!

Hero of the Night is Garrett Whitlock. It was a team effort to score the winning run but Whitlock getting out of the eighth inning without allowing the go-ahead run kept the Sox in the driver's seat. Not bad for a Rule 5 pick the Yankees gave up on.
                                               The Lock is your Game 4 Hero


The Good:

Travis Shaw got credited with a single as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning.

Rafael Devers was 3 for 4 with a 3 run home run.

JD Martinez was 2 for 4 with an rbi.

Christian Vazquez was 2 for 4 with a run scored.

Danny Santana scored the winning run as a pinch runner.

Eduardo Rodriguez allowed just 2 runs in 5 plus innings of work. He struck out 6 and walked nobody.

Josh Taylor pitched a scoreless seventh inning.



The Bad:

Tanner Houck allowed a 2 run home run in the sixth inning.

Ryan Brasier allowed 2 runs in the top of the eighth on 3 hits.



The Ugly:

Kyle Schwarber was 0 for 3 but walked and scored a run.

Kike Hernandez was just 1 for 4 but drove in the winning run with a sac fly.

Xander Bogaerts was just 1 for 4 but scored a run.

Alex Verdugo was just 1 for 4 but drove in a run and scored.

Hunter Renfroe was just 1 for 4 with a strikeout.

Christian Arroyo was 0 for 3 but dropped down a key bunt in the ninth inning.



Honorable Mention:

Bobby Dalbec played first base in the last two innings.




Final Thoughts:

Say whatever you want about the faults and negatives of the Red Sox but they have balls of steel. Finishing the season 30-31 after July turned a lot of fans off and losing 5 of 6 to the Yankees and the 110 loss Baltimore Orioles to end September made things look bleak. Even after the Sox knocked the Yankees out of the Wild Card game, they got steamrolled in Game 1 in Tampa and were down 5-2 in the second inning of Game 2 with Chris Sale finished. Its been all Red Sox ever since and they showed poise and balls to win the series. This game had great and bad defense from both teams and it came down to who wanted it more. Chaim Bloom looks like a genius after trading for Nick Pivetta who saved their bacon in Game 3 and stealing Whitlock from the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft. Not to mention getting Schwarber for a low level prospect and Shaw for free bolstered this team's bench considerably. Before the season Cora was excited the Sox signed Hernandez and he was the difference maker in this series. The criticism of Cora was pulling starters too early all season and it ruined the bullpen by July, but now in the playoffs even the starters are in the bullpen. Cora can mix and match all he wants and he's been burned by that only once tonight. Hats off to Rodriguez, Taylor and Whitlock for pitching well, especially E-Rod after his Game 1 disaster. You can say all you want about how Chris Sale is broken, the other starters are bums and the bullpen is on fumes...but one thing you can't say is they don't have heart. The last three games were all gutsy wins by the Sox and this one sent them to the American League Championship series. The Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox game got postponed to tomorrow due to rain so the Sox don't know who they'll be facing yet. Still, the Sox weren't expected to do anything this season after they tanked last year, they weren't supposed to beat the Yankees in a one game playoff and they sure as hell weren't expected to steamroll the Rays. Alex Cora deserves a lot of flack for essentially collapsing down the stretch but he's now 4-0 in playoff series for the Red Sox as manager. No matter what happens against Houston or Chicago, you can't deny how great this season has been. The Sox are going from last place at the end of 2020 to being four wins away from the World Series. Game 1 either in Chicago or Houston starts this Friday and nobody knows who's pitching yet. Until then its time to enjoy the ALDS victory.
On to the ALCS