October 14, 2018

ALCS 2: Red Sox 7, Astros 5

Astros  - 022 000 001 - 5  7  1
Red Sox - 203 000 11x - 7  9  0
David Price did little to improve his reputation among a majority of Red Sox fans (4.2-5-4-4-4, 80), though he did avoid serious trouble and (with the assistance of Matt Barnes) kept the Red Sox in the game.

Boston's bats jumped on Gerrit Cole (6-6-5-2-5, 90) for two early runs and Jackie Bradley put the Red Sox on top to stay with a three-run double. Mookie Betts provided insurance in the later innings, scoring one run and driving in another. They were needed, because Craig Kimbrel did not have a smooth ninth inning.

But all that matters right now is the final score was in the Red Sox's favour and the ALCS is tied 1-1.

The Red Sox were 74-15 when scoring first during the regular season and they are 4-0 in the postseason.

Price gave mixed signals as soon as the game began. After he got George Springer on a pop to first, he walked Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. But then Price was suddenly back on point and struck out Yuli Gurriel and Tyler White on the minimum six pitches.

In the home first, Betts crushed a 3-1 pitch halfway up the wall in straightaway center. Andrew Benintendi followed with a first-pitch single to right-center for a 1-0 lead. With one out, Xander Bogaerts grounded back to Cole and the pitcher threw the ball over his first baseman's head. Boston had runners at second and third - and Cole walked Steve Pearce to load the bases. Rafael Devers lined an opposite-field single to left, scoring Benintendi with a second run. Cole stopped further damage, for the time being, striking out Ian Kinsler and getting Bradley on a groundout.

Price could not hold the 2-0 lead. Carlos Correa beat out an infield single to shortstop and went to third on Martin Maldonado's double to left. With two outs, Springer came through, muscling an inside pitch down the right-field line for a two-run double. The Astros took the lead in the third when Gurriel singled with one out and Marwin Gonzalez, with two outs and a full count, homered to left. Tonight's definition of frustrating was watching the Astros score four times when Price was one out away from a scoreless inning - twice.

J.D. Martinez struck out to open the bottom of the third. (He finished the game 0-for-4, with two strikeouts. He looked clueless at the plate; perhaps the day off will clear his head.) Bogaerts singled on a hard grounder through the box and up the middle.

Pearce doubled to deep left. Gonzalez, who had made a nice catch at the base off the wall on Benintendi to end the second inning, leapt for Pearce's drive and slammed his back into the wall. Springer fielded the carom when Gonzalez crumbled to the dirt. He needed about five minutes to get his breath back before the game went on. Meanwhile, Cole's arm may have cooled during the delay because he walked Devers on four pitches. Kinsler batted again with the bases loaded - and for the second time in three innings, he struck out on three pitches. (There is no excuse at this point for not playing Brock Holt.)

Bradley got ahead 2-0, swung and missed, and then lifted a flyball towards the left field corner. Gonzalez was too close to the wall and when it hit maybe 20 feet up, it caromed over back over his head. He ran after it, watching it pinballed along the ledge of the side wall, comically just out of his reach. By the time he got the ball back to the infield, all three runners had scored.

Price set down the Astros in order in the fourth, on only 10 pitches - his best inning of the night. He issued a couple of walks in the fifth and departed with two outs. Barnes struck out Gonzalez to strand those runners. Barnes also pitched a clean sixth and Ryan Brasier gave up a two-out walk in the seventh.

After the stretch, Betts worked a walk against Lance McCullers. Benintendi struck out on a wild pitch and Betts went to second. With Martinez at the plate, McCullers's 1-0 pitch got away from Maldonado for a passed ball and Betts advanced to third. JDM struck out. McCullers's first pitch to Bogaerts was also a passed ball - and Mookie scored. Forget about scoring a run without a hit - this run scored without the ball being put into play! McCullers was pulled and Josh James came in to finish Bogaerts's plate appearance. James threw three balls for a BB to X before getting Pearce to ground to short.

Devers led off the eighth with a single. James struck out Kinsler and JBJ, but Mitch Moreland, hitting for Christian Vazquez, singled to right. Sandy Leon went in as a pinch-runner since he was going to catch the ninth. Héctor Rondón came in to face Betts. He threw a ball and then Mookie lined a double to right-center, scoring Devers. Tony Sipp took over. Benintendi got ahead 3-0 and opted to offend Ron Darling yet again by swinging at the next pitch and flying to center.

Rick Porcello pitched the eighth, striking out two of his three batters, and I wanted him to pitch the ninth as well. But the Red Sox's three-run lead created a "Save Situation", so you know that meant: Kimbrel Time.

In Kimbrel Time, you pour a very big, very strong drink and curse your way through the inning, hoping your increasingly tight, white-knuckle grip does not shatter your glass. Evan Gattis led off and Kimbrel threw him a strike - followed by three balls. Jesus. Gattis popped to second on a full-count fastball. Josh Reddick was dispatched on three pitches: called, foul, swinging. Maybe this would not be so bad.

Kimbrel's first pitch to Springer was in the lower, outside corner of the zone, but umpire Vic Carapazza (no surprise) called it a ball. Then Kimbrel threw an actual ball before Springer ripped a double past Devers into left. Jose Altuve then drove a 1-0 pitch halfway up the Wall for a long single. Springer scored, which brought Alex Bregman to the plate as the potential tying run. Bregman took a called strike and hit an inside fastball (at 99) to deep left. Benintendi went back to the base of the wall and it fell into his glove, perhaps one foot from being some very bad news.

In these two ALCS games, Bregman is now 0-for-3 but he has been on base seven times, with six walks and a HBP. ... Viva batting average!!

So, in direct contradiction to everything you have heard on TBS, it is possible for a baseball team to take on the Houston Astros and wind up on the winning side of the score. This is extremely good news, but it remains questionable whether this fact will sink deep enough into the craniums of Brian Anderson and Ron Darling to effect their comments on Tuesday night.

The Red Sox announced during the game that "Chris Sale reported a stomach illness today and was admitted to MGH for observation this afternoon. He will be kept overnight for evaluation and any further updates will be released when available."
Gerrit Cole / David Price
Betts, RF
Benintendi, LF
Martinez, DH
Bogaerts, SS
Pearce, 1B
Devers, 3B
Kinsler, 2B
Bradley, CF
Vázquez, C
The name of David Price's French bulldog is Astro. Red Sox fans have dogged Price since he arrived in Boston. Price's reputation is on the line tonight in a game against the Astros.

Dismissed as coincidence?

Price has made 10 career postseason starts for four teams over the last nine seasons and has a 6.03 ERA (and an 0-9 record). Overall, in 18 postseason appearances, Price's ERA is 5.28.

However, in last year's ALDS, Price faced 27 Astros in relief and did not allow a run: 2.2 innings in Game 2 and 4.0 innings in Game 3. He will see many of those same batters tonight.

Alex Cora says:
I trust the guy. ... I saw him last year, I think it was Father's Day, he pitched against Houston in Houston and he pitched well. I saw him in the playoffs against the Astros. He pitched well. This year, he pitched in Houston that Saturday [June 2], he pitched well against them [3 runs in 6 IP, with 7 K]. He pitched here against the Astros [September 7] and pitched well again [2 runs in 6.1 IP, with 10K], so I know how good he is ... against them. ... He was actually the best pitcher in that series last year. I know he was coming out of the bullpen, but what he did was good to see.
The overview of Price's postseason career conceals four games which he certainly could have won.

October 12, 2010: Price allowed three runs to the Rangers in 6.0 innings in ALDS Game 5 of the ALDS (6-8-3-0-6, 104). The Rays lost 5-1 (and lost the series).

October 3, 2011: Price allowed three runs to the Rangers in 6.2 innings in ALDS Game 3 (6.2-7-3-1-3, 102). The Rays lost 4-3.

October 5, 2014: Price allowed two runs to the Orioles in 8.0 innings in ALDS Game 3 (8-5-2-2-6, 112). The Tigers lost 2-1 (and lost the series).

October 23, 2015: Price allowed 3 runs to the Royals in 6.2 innings (6.2-5-3-1-8, 99). The Blue Jays lost 4-3 (and lost the series).

Greg Bedard's take at The Boston Sports Journal sums up the prevailing narrative regarding Price:
With a strong start, Price has a chance to be a savior to the same fans who booed him off the mound after lasting just 1.2 innings in a Game 2 loss to the Yankees in the Division Series.

Come up short again, and Price will be buried in Boston forever. A poor start would all but sentence the Red Sox to an 0-2 deficit after two games at Fenway heading to Houston for three games, and a disappointing series loss against the Astros.

So, yeah, no pressure.
We feel that if he attacks the way he did in the second half using his fastball in different spots and creating differences in his velocity, he'll be good. It seems like the velocity of his cutter and his sinker and four-seamer and the changeup, they were all together the last three, I want to say, location-wise, everything came together in the same spot. But we did talk about it in the off day in New York. And he understands. And we expect him to go out there and attack them in a different way and give us a good start.
Jayson Stark reported that last night's game featured 25 baserunners and eight hits. That is the fewest hits in any postseason game featuring that many baserunners. In Game 5 of the 1947 World Series, the Yankees and Dodgers combined for 25 runners and nine hits.

Through the end of 2017, there were 173 best-of-seven series in baseball history. The winner of Game 1 took the series 111 times: 64%.

From a distance, things do not look so good for the Red Sox. ... But fuck it, things have been seriously bleak - beyond bleak - in the not-so-distant past, and we have seen some amazing things happen.

It's time for a little faith. Or a lot of faith. Because someone who loves dogs cannot be all bad. ... (But for Christ's sake, pitch good, okay?)


allan said...

I hope:

Price does not make his outfielders fetch a lot of balls in the gap.
Alex Cora has Price on a short leash.
Price makes a lot of Astros wear an 0-for-4 collar.
We don't have to bark at too many shitty umpire calls.

FenFan said...

I was at Game 1 of the 2013 ALCS. Boston came this close to getting no-hit by the Tigers before losing 1-0. Remember the second game? The Red Sox were down 5-1 late and in danger of falling behind 2-0 in the series.

Look at how bad they looked after Game 2 of the last series. They rallied and won the next two in New York.

Anything can happen...

allan said...

Most Consecutive Postseason Games With One Or More Home Runs
AL Record: 13, set by Houston Astros (2017-2018)
NL Record: 13, set by Houston Astros (2001-2004)

In Game 1, Alex Bregman reached base safely four times without a hit. He's the first player to do that in a postseason game since David Ortiz (2013 World Series, Game 6, October 30, 2013).

Paul Hickman said...

As FenFan says ...... We still look just OK at best.

This 1 was a bit of an ugly W , but we will gratefully take it

Fast Forward to 2068 ,

Price is still looking for his first postseason win as they wheel his wheelchair out to the mound !!!!!!!

Jim said...

Serious question: I'm too cheap to pay MLB-tv for a playoff subscription when I can watch it on Rogers Sportsnet here in Ontario (for the price of Cable, of course). Anyway, last night there was absolutely no graphics in the lower right-hand corner. No K-zone, no pitch track, no pitch count, no nothing. Only thing on screen was the usual top left score box. Good thing I know what's going on. So is this just Rogers or does TBS in the States have no graphics either?

MThomas said...

I couldn’t believe Darling and Anderson’s commentary on JBJ’s foul off his arm that was originally called a fair ball and a tag out by Maldonado. They could clearly see what the right call was, West was clearly trying to get the call right, but because foul tips are unreviewable, they insisted that the umps should stick with the wrong call and Hinch should have thrown a fit about the reversal.

Assuming what they said about foul balls is true, does that mean a high bouncing ground ball down the line over the bag that is very difficult to tell is fair or foul in the moment with human eyes can’t be reviewed? That is just dumb policy MLB.

I would have liked either of the commentators to say something to the effect of, “I am glad the umps took their time to make sure they got the call right. Also, according to current replay rules, Cora can’t challenge this play, which is something MLB may want to look at going forward, since really the home plate ump is in the best position to get the call right and he didn’t in this case.”

That whole dialogue got me so heated, I muted it for the next inning and a half.