October 8, 2017

ALDS 3: Red Sox 10, Astros 3

Astros  - 300 000 000 -  3 13  2
Red Sox - 013 000 60x - 10 15  0

Six minutes after the first pitch of this game, Houston held a 3-0 lead, punctuated by Carlos Correa's home run to dead center. Fenway Park seemed like a morgue and it was clear: this series - and season - were over.

But who among us could have imagined even a portion of what would transpire over the next 3.5 hours?

In short, the Red Sox took their first lead of the ALDS by scoring three times in the third (Rafael Devers hit a two-run homer) after the first two batters had struck out. Before that, though, Mookie Betts robbed Josh Reddick of a three-run homer that would certainly have broken the Red Sox's backs. David Price pitched four crucial innings out of the bullpen - the longest postseason relief stint for a Boston pitcher since Pedro Martinez's six no-hit innings against Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS. The Red Sox eased the growing late-inning tension by batting around in the seventh; the first five batters reached base and Jackie Bradley homered for the final three runs on a fly ball down the right field line that Reddick knocked into the stands with his glove. All that, and about two dozen other amazing moments, too.

Our prayers - and David Ortiz's prayers, too - were answered.

The damage today was done by the lower half of the lineup:
#1-4:  3-for-18, 2 runs scored,  0 RBI, 0 extra-base hits
#5-9: 12-for-20, 8 runs scored, 10 RBI, 2 doubles, 2 home runs
Mitch Moreland (3-for-5, double, 3 runs): Began the second inning with a single. Started the third-inning rally with a double off the garage door in center. With two on and no outs in the seventh, he singled off Chris Devenski, just in from the pen, to load the bases and set things up for the scorchingly-hot Hanley Ramirez.

Hanley Ramirez (4-for-4, double, 2 runs, 3 RBI): Singled in the second. Hit an RBI-single in the third and hustled to second on an outfield error. With the bases loaded in the seventh, fouled the first pitch off, then took three straight balls before doubling into the gap in left-center, increasing the lead from 4-3 to 6-3. (In Fox Sports' studio, Ortiz liked watching it.)

Rafael Devers (2-for-3, home run, walk, 2 runs, 3 RBI): Drew a key walk in the second inning. Greeted reliever Francisco Liriano with a two-run homer in the third - which gave Boston its first lead in its last five postseason games. Showed both poise and patience in the seventh, poking a run-scoring single to left.

Jackie Bradley (1-for-4, home run, 3 RBI): Home plate umpire Ted Barrett was so bad behind the plate that I may have to revise my stance that Angel Hernandez is the worst umpire in MLB. Barrett called an outside pitch a strike on Bradley in the second, making the count 1-2. The next pitch was to the exact same spot and Bradley, knowing he could not risk being called out on another blown call, especially with the bases loaded, swung and missed. In the seventh, Reddick ran a long way to get to his fly ball. He leapt at the short wall and had the ball in his glove...

Mookie Betts singled, walked, and scored a run, but his biggest contribution to this game was robbing Reddick (!) of a three-run homer in the top of the second. Houston had runners on second and third. Doug Fister (1.1-4-3-1-1, 38) had already been pulled and Joe Kelly was facing Reddick with two outs. Reddick crushed the eighth pitch of the at-bat to deep right. Betts raced back and with his back nearly to the infield, reached out and into the stands and calmly caught the ball.

Oldtimers like me were reminded of Dwight Evans's game-saving catch against Joe Morgan in the 11th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. If Betts had not made that grab, the Astros would have led 6-0 and I feel pretty confident that we'd all be cursing another quick exit from the postseason right now. (Reddick must have been very frustrated. Little did he know ...) With a man on first in the third, Betts made another nice running catch on Alex Bregman's liner to right-center.

David Price (4-4-0-1-4, 57): Took over in the third inning with the Red Sox ahead 4-3. He allowed at least baserunner in each of his four innings, but came up big when necessary. Yuli Gurriel (4-for-4) singled with one out in the fourth, but after Brian McCann lined to right, Price struck out George Springer. In the fifth, Reddick and Jose Altuve both singled. Correa forced Reddick at third for the first out. Price overcame a bad call from Barrett on 1-2 that should have been a strikeout by hanging tough and getting Marwin Gonzalez to swing and miss for the K. Bregman then grounded to shortstop and Xander Bogaerts threw to second for the inning-ending force.

Gurriel singled with one down in the sixth, but McCann and Springer both flied to Betts. Price walked Altuve with one out in the seventh. Correa lined to right and Gonzalez struck out. After Gonzalez fanned and the inning was over, catcher Sandy Leon tossed the ball in the air slightly with his glove. Gonzalez actually tried to knock it out of his glove with his bat, making contact with Leon. At the same time, Price was walking off the mound and he was yelling towards the plate. I initially thought he was telling Barrett what he thought of his pitch-calling skills (his day was done, so who cared if he got tossed?), but he might actually have been yelling at Gonzalez. As Price got closer to the dugout, he was also motioning towards the first base umpire.

Price faced the most batters of any pitcher in the game and only Astros starter Peacock (2.2-6-3-1-4, 58) threw more pitches. Or pitch, since it was only one more. It was a bit scary that manager John Farrell had no one warming up in the pen as Price began the seventh. (The score was still only 4-3.) Price began the inning at 42 pitches, more than he had thrown in any of his previous six relief appearances. After the first out, Addison Reed began tossing.

And it was Reed who came in for the top of the eighth, needing to hold a now-comfortable seven-run lead. He gave up only a two-out hit, and needed just seven pitches to retire the Astros. Carson Smith pitched the ninth. Springer reached on an infield hit but was erased on a double play. Altuve singled to third, but Smith got Correa looking at strike three - and the dirty water flowed.

Hammerin' Hanley: "We don't give up, we keep working."

Ortiz, on Fox Sports: "This game's gonna be a game changer for the whole organization."

After Bradley's home run, the crowd at Fenway began chanting Reddick's name to the tune of that famous ditty from 1986, "Dar-ryl, Dar-ryl". Reddick: "I think everybody in Foxboro heard them chanting my name. It's good to see they still love me here. ... Just the ball kept curling over. I had enough time to get over, I thought. I thought I timed the jump pretty well on my part, just in and out. ... It's very unfortunate for myself and the team. Nothing you can do."

The time of tomorrow's Game 4 has not been decided. It depends on whether today will be YED 2017.
Brad Peacock / Doug Fister
Bogaerts, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Benintendi, LF
Betts, RF
Moreland, 1B
Ramirez, DH
Devers, 3B
Leon, C
Bradley, CF
It's Sunday, and we need some faith.

One definition describes faith "a firm belief in something for which there is no proof". You may not feel overly optimistic or particularly hopeful about the Red Sox's chances today (or in this series), but having faith is appropriate because to date we have seen no proof that the AL East champs can keep up with the Astros.
           AVG   OBP   SLG    OPS
Astros    .343  .418  .686  1.103
Red Sox   .227  .278  .288   .566
Of Houston's 24 hits, 12 have been for extra bases (50%), while the Red Sox have only four extra-base hits among their 15 hits (27%).

The team that has won the first two games of a previous best-of-5 series has come out on top 66 of 75 times (88%). Since MLB adopted the current 2-2-1 format, teams up 2-0 have won 35 of 39 times (90%). Teams losing the first two games on the road - as these Red Sox have done - are 2-20 (10%). However, the two teams that came back in that scenario were the 1999 Red Sox (against Cleveland) and the 2003 Red Sox (against Oakland).

Never forget that we have seen miracles - and they can happen again. ... So we watch, and hope.

Speaking of Our Man of Miracles, the 2017 Red Sox could benefit from an impassioned rallying speech this afternoon:

And the Big Man has some words from Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians for those of us watching his brothers toil in the garden this afternoon:

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith ... be strong.

Also, it wouldn't hurt if Pedroia sent some kid out to the liquor store for a couple of fifths of JD and some paper cups.


allan said...


The team has looked like they are already out. The fans are acting like the Red Sox are done. Maybe they just know what's inevitable.

Well fuck that. In 1999, they lost game 1 while Pedro got injured. In game 2 they never had a chance. Then they came back to Fenway and won games 3 and 4 with the immortal Ramon Martinez and Kent Mercker starting. We all remember game 5.

In 2003, they lost game 1 in extras after blowing a 9th inning lead ruining a good Pedro start and lost game 2 mundanely and lifeless. They then came back to Fenway and somehow won game 3 in extra innings on Nixons walkoff shot vs Rich Harden and then won game 4 with the immortal John Burkett on the mound. We all remember Derek Lowe's Saturn balls in game 5.

In 2004, they looked defeated and done. They had come back to Fenway to make it a series and then got blown out 19-8 in humiliating fashion. They were done. We all knew it. Then something strange happened. As we all watched game 4 we started to believe Kevin Millar...just don't let us win tonight. We had Pedro going in game 5, Schilling in game 6, and anything can happen in game 7. So when Cabin Mirror stepped into the box against fruitbat in the 9th inning, we weren't lifeless and defeated. I remember how loud the crowd got when ball 4 sailed up and in to Millar.

Because they all knew, just don't let us win today.



paul hickman said...

It's too early to say The Comeback is on ........ But , today was a welcome change in affairs ! Tomorrow's weather might be a reminder of Game 4 in 2004 ALCS ????? Maybe

allan said...

And it's a 1 PM start tomorrow.

allan said...

It was the highest-scoring game in postseason history in which all of a team’s runs were driven in by the bottom four spots in the batting order.