October 19, 2021

ALCS 4: Astros 9, Red Sox 2

Astros  - 100 000 017 - 9 12  1 
Red Sox - 200 000 000 - 2 5 2

Things Not To Do In A 2-1 ALCS Game Against The Team With MLB's Top Average & On-Base Percentage
Squander runners at first and second with 2 outs in the 1st inning.
Squander runners at first and second with 1 out in the 2nd inning.
Squander a runner at second base with 2 outs in the 3rd inning.
Squander a one-out triple in the 4th inning.
Squander a one-out double in the 5th inning.
Squander a leadoff walk in the 6th inning.
Get no one on base in the 7th inning.
[See, now the game is tied 2-2.]
Do pretty much nothing (a two-out walk) in the eighth inning.
[Oh, the other team just got seven more runs.]
. . . so it doesn't fucking matter what you do in the 9th inning.
In short: Leave 11 men on base and go 0-for-9 with RATS.
As the innings went by and the Red Sox, having played like an unstoppable machine over the last two games, kept squandering scoring opportunities, and as the number of the Astros' remaining outs got smaller, the chances of the score remaining 2-1 were somehow also getting smaller.

Jose Altuve had been a very quiet 0-for-3 when he homered off Garrett Whitlock's first pitch of the eighth inning, erasing a 2-1 Boston lead that had stood for six innings.

Nathan Eovaldi took the mound in the ninth inning and gave up a leadoff double to Carlos Correa. He struck out Kyle Tucker on three pitches, with the out going catcher-to-first. The Red Sox opted to intentionally walk Yuri Gurriel, setting up possible forces at second and third. Pinch-hitter Aledmys Díaz fanned for the second out. Eovaldi got two strikes on Jason Castro, but did not get a strike three call from plate umpire Laz Diaz on a 1-2 pitch that caught plenty of the strike zone. Instead, the count was 2-2. Castro grounded a single into right field, Correa scored, and Houston led 3-2. Eovaldi walked Altuve on a full count pitch and Alex Cora decided to bring in Martín Pérez.

Did this decision make sense to anyone out there? Pérez was bounced from the rotation in early August  (4.77 ERA in 22 starts) and in 14 relief appearances, he pitched 14 innings and gave up 17 hits and 12 runs. Was he really Cora's best option to get an out with the bases loaded, thusly holding Houston at three runs? Despite having zero faith in Pérez and being utterly baffled by Cora's decision, I was still shocked and a bit dazed at how quickly and completely the game was flushed down the shitter.

It took only two pitches – two!! – for the Astros to score four additional runs and still have runners at first and second. As the meme says: That Escalated Quickly.

Michael Brantley drove Pérez's first pitch to the gap in right-center; all three runners scored. 6-2. Alex Bregman was intentionally walked, which did nothing but give the Astros a free baserunner. Yordan Alvarez lined Pérez's second pitch to left, bringing Brantley in. 7-2. Correa saw six pitches in his at-bat, before knocking a dribbler on the grass to the third base side of the mound. Pérez fielded the ball, but was charged with an error when his throw got past Kyle Schwarber. Another run scored. 8-2. And then Tucker hit the first pitch he saw for a run-scoring single. 9-2. Gurriel, the 12th batter of the inning, flied out to left, presumably on purpose because I'm sure he could have doubled off the Wall if he really had wanted to.

The ALCS is tied at 2-2 and is now a best-of-3, with the last two games (if necessary) in Houston. Chris Sale will start tomorrow. He better bring his (at least) B+ game.

Nick Pivetta's line looks great (5-2-1-2-3, 65) but he appeared somewhat dicey for a time in the second inning. First, Bregman homered on a 2-0 pitch right down the middle in the first inning. With two outs in the second, Gurriel grounded near Devers along the foul line. Devers scrambled after the ball and launched a throw that sailed over Schwarber for an error. Pivetta then walked Chas McCormick on four pitches and his first pitch to Martín Maldonado was wild, putting Astros at second and third. He went to 3-1 on Maldonado before getting him to pop to center. That out began a stretch in which Pivetta retired 10 of 11 batters.

The Red Sox answered in their half of the first, also with two outs. Zack Greinke walked Devers and Xander Bogaerts crushed a slider over everything in left for a two-run homer. And despite a decent chance at scoring in nearly every inning after that, the score remained 2-1.

Greinke threw 28 pitches in the first inning and was pulled after only two batters in the second (1.1-1-2-3-0, 37). In the four games of the ALCS, Houston's starters have recorded a total of 20 outs, an average of 1.2 innings per game.

With the Astros needing almost eight innings from their bullpen, you had to figure not every arm that was brought in would be golden. But they were all silver, at least. In 7.2 innings, they threw 136 pitches, walking four and giving up four hits, but no runs. They also struck out 10.

Christian Arroyo tripled to right with one out in the fourth, but Schwarber (6-3) and Kiké Hernández  (PF2) could not get him the final 90 feet. It was the first postseason triple for Red Sox at Fenway since Stephen Drew in Game 2 of the 2013 ALDS. It was also the third postseason triple hit by a Red Sox #9 batter. The other two: Spike Owen, in Game 6 of the 1986 ALCS, and Cy Young, in Game 5 of the 1903 World Series.

Nate Eovaldi is the second pitcher in Red Sox postseason history to give up 4+ runs, get ≤ 2 outs, and take a loss. Jose Santiago did it as the starting pitcher in Game 4 of the 1967 World Series. And Eovaldi and Martín Pérez are the first Red Sox teammates to each give up 3+ runs while getting ≤ 2 outs in the same postseason game.

Sarah Langs reports: "The Astros' 7 runs with 2 outs in the 9th inning were tied for the 2nd-most runs with 2 out in a postseason inning, behind only the Dodgers' 10 2-out runs in the 1st of 2020 NLCS Game 3. No team had ever scored more than 4 runs with 2 outs in the 9th or later in a PS inning."

This was the Red Sox's first postseason game ever in which they scored multiple runs in the first inning and were then shutout for the rest of the game.

ROBOTS: Laz Diaz has consistently been one of the worst umpires in MLB for more years than I can count. And he keeps getting rewarded for his incompetence with plum assignments like the ALCS. With him behind the plate for Game 4, you knew we were guaranteed a straight-up shit performance on balls and strikes. And Good Ol' Laz did not disappoint. But that will be a separate post.

NLCS: The Dodgers were five outs from a 2-5 loss to Atlanta and a 0-3 deficit in the NLCS. But Cody Bellinger hit a game-tying, three-run homer and Mookie Betts drive in the go-ahead run, and the Dodgers won 6-5. Andrew Simon and Matt Kelly (mlb.com):
In 81 previous postseason games in which the Dodgers trailed by at least three runs in the eighth inning or later, the franchise had lost every time. Per Baseball Savant's win probability metric, Los Angeles only had a 6 percent chance to win after the seventh inning.

Zack Greinke / Nick Pivetta

Astros Starting Pitchers
Game 1: Framber Valdez – 8 outs
Game 2: Luis Garcia  – 3 outs
Game 3: José Urquidy – 5 outs

That's a grand total of 5.1 innings over three games (13 hits, 8 walks, and 14 runs given up.) By comparison, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched 6 innings last night all by his lonesome.

When the ALCS began, Astros Dusty Baker said Zack Greinke (who has pitched 3.1 innings since September 19 (today is October 19)) has been stretched out to about 40 pitches. "It's kind of like 'Groundhog Day'. A recurring nightmare where you hope to get some innings out of these guys."

This is the Red Sox's plan:
1. Show up.
2. Pound the shit out of the ball.
3. Profit.

The Astros are fucked. You could set your watch by it.

1 comment:

Paul Hickman said...

We definitely squandered this Game & "could have" won all 4 !

IF we lose ...... then surely this was Houston's turning point

IF we win, then it is still to come.

Perez was a Nightmare Call - I shuddered when I saw him warming up - time to put the lights out on him for the Season, if he hasn't put the lights out on us ?

We really do need something reasonable from Sale & less squandering.

But I am still hopeful & I think we can rebound & we still have a slight Pitching edge

The fact that worries me, is that we may have "peaked" too early, so to speak & maybe they haven't yet ? It sounds ludicrous, but if we are on the way down & they continue to climb, then it is almost certainly doom.

They have raised their level & we now need to respond or it will be mothballs.

It was never likely to be easy & IF we can respond, then we will deserve to be in the Fall Classic

Game 5 - we gotta have it.

Correction - we gotta TAKE it ...

Attack & Plunder with No Mercy !