October 17, 2018

ALCS 4: Red Sox 8, Astros 6

Red Sox - 201 012 110 - 8 11  1
Astros  - 012 110 010 - 6 13  0
The Red Sox are one win away from the World Series after coming out on top of a heart-stopping nail-biter in Houston. Boston led 8-5 when manager Alex Cora asked Craig Kimbrel to get the final six outs. He allowed one run in the eighth and walked the bases loaded in the ninth. Alex Bregman batted with two outs and the potential winning run on first base. He smacked Kimbrel's first pitch towards left field. The ball was sinking fast. Andrew Benintendi sprinted 45 feet in only 3.2 seconds and made a diving catch four hours and forty-three minutes after the first pitch.

According to Statcast, there was only a 21% chance of Benintendi catching Bregman's sinking liner. On catches with such a low probability of being caught, Benintendi had been 0-for-22 this season.

Looking at only the end of each half-inning, the score changed 11 times in eight innings: 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-3, 3-4, 4-4, 4-5, 6-5, 7-5, 8-5, and 8-6.

Jackie Bradley's two-run homer in the sixth erased the Astros' 5-4 lead and put the Red Sox ahead for good. JBJ has driven in nine runs in the last three games.

The Red Sox scored two runs in the first inning for the third consecutive game. Mookie Betts was hit with the second pitch of the evening and J.D. Martinez walked. Astros starter Charlie Morton (2.1-3-3-2-2, 53) threw a wild pitch before Rafael Devers singled both runners in. In the bottom half, Jose Altuve batted with a man on first. He hit a fly to deep right. Betts tracked it to the wall and leapt, but his glove became entangled in the hands of several fans and the ball fell back on the field. It appeared to be a double, but right field umpire Joe West had actually called Altuve out because of fan interference. After a lengthy review, the call stood.

A few innings later, Houston manager A.J. Hinch, an in-game interview, said that West told him
there was fan interference on the field, and my argument was more about the fact that the ball was leaving the yard, the trajectory was there. Jose paid kind of the ultimate price for something out of his control. I'm not sure if Mookie makes that catch, he's a great athlete, but how it's an assumed out is unbelievable.
Hinch gave an incorrect reason for West's out call to the TV audience - which must have been a deliberate lie since West spoke to him immediately after the call was confirmed. When TBS announcers Brian Anderson and Ron Darling discussed Hinch's comments, they failed to set the record straight and correct Hinch's erroneous statement. West did not assume that Betts would catch the ball. West said, basically, Betts never had the proper opportunity to catch the ball, because several fans prevented him.

The Astros scored in the second when Josh Reddick doubled and Carlos Correa singled. Boston came right back and matched that run in the third. Benintendi nearly homered to center, but the ball hit about two inches from the top of the padded wall for a double. After a wild pitch put him n third, Benintendi scored on Xander Bogaerts's double down the left field line. That hit ended Morton's evening.

Rick Porcello (4-7-4-1-3, 68) gave up three runs over the next two innings, two of the runs coming on home runs. George Springer hit Porcello's first pitch of the third for a homer to right. Altuve followed with a double and scored on Reddick's two-out single. Tony Kemp homered down by the right field pole in the fourth, giving Houston a 4-3 lead.

The Astros' lead was short-lived. Benintendi doubled to left-center with one out in the fifth and scored on Bogaerts's groundball single to center. Houston took a 5-4 lead in the bottom half off Joe Kelly. Yuli Gurriel singled and took second on a two-out wild pitch. Correa's single scored the run.

Again, the Red Sox did not allow the Astros to enjoy the lead for very long. Reliever Josh James retired the first two batter sinthe sixth, but Christian Vazquez doubled to center and Bradley (after walking in his two prior plate appearances) crushed the first pitch he saw to deep right. Boston retook the lead 6-5.

Ryan Pressly gave up a single to J.D. Martinez in the seventh and walked Bogaerts and Steve Pearce. The bases were loaded with two outs. Lance McCullers came in from the pen - and he walked Brock Holt, forcing in Boston's seventh run. The score improved to 8-5 in the eighth. Betts singled, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on Martinez's single.

Entrusted with protecting a three-run lead, Kimbrel allowed a single on the first pitch he threw in the bottom of the eighth. Kemp lined a hit down the right field line - and he tried for a double. Betts ran over to the line, grabbed the ball, spun around, and fired a near-perfect throw to Bogaerts at second, seemingly without taking any time to look where he as throwing. It was a stunning play.

Kimbrel was extremely fired up and threw two called strikes to Bregman. Perhaps that play had jolted Kimbrel from whatever funk is ailing him lately. Or perhaps not ... as his next pitch hit Bregman. Springer followed with a double and Houston had men at second and third and the potential tying run at the plate with one out. David Price was warming up in the Boston bullpen. Altuve grounded out to Bogaerts on the first pitch and a run scored. Kimbrel ended the inning by striking out Marwin Gonzalez.

As it turned out, the ninth inning was extremely similar for both teams. They each loaded the bases, almost exclusively on mistakes by the opposing team and it took a diving catch in the outfield for each team to put a zero on the board and leave three men on base.

Tony Sipp struck out Devers to start the ninth, but he walked Pearce and surrendered a hit to Holt. Collin McHugh relieve Sipp and got pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland to fly to center. Bradley was plunked, loading the bases for Betts, who lined a 1-0 pitch to short right-center. Reddick ran in and caught in with a diving catch.

In the bottom of the ninth, Cora stayed with Kimbrel, who had thrown 14 pitches in the previous inning. Ian Kinsler, in for defensive purposes, made a great basket catch in foul territory, cutting in front of Betts to record the first out. (On my scorecard, I wrote "basket cas-" before realizing my mistake. A telling slip, perhaps.) Kimbrel then walked both Reddick (bcbbb) and Correa (bbfbb) on five pitches each.

I thought Cora might go to Price if the Astros got a baserunner, but he did not budge from the bench. Tyler White stepped in as the potential winning run. He lifted an 0-1 pitch to right. It was shy of the warning track, but my heart still might have stopped for a second or two. Kemp was next - and Kimbrel walked him, also (bsbbcb). Two outs and Houston had the top of its order ready to bat. Bregman lined Kimbrel's first offering to left and Benintendi - who deserved the "save" in this game far more than Kimbrel - made one of the most memorable catches of the season.

The AL pennant can be won tomorrow night.

TBS continues to suck. Here is some of why:

When Devers delivers in the first inning, Ron Darling says the Red Sox have put "two points" on the board.

On the Mookie/Interference play, Darling says he "strongly believes" that Betts went into the stands to try and make the catch. What? An outfielder tried to prevent a deep fly ball from being a home run? Wow. It's this top-shelf observation and analysis that gets Darling the big bucks. He and Anderson also refer to the umpires' correct call as "a break for the Red Sox". Darling called Betts "Mookie Wilson", but he quickly corrected himself.

In his obsession that Astros pitcher Josh James can throw over 100 mph, Anderson gushes that James "goes back to the heat" to strike out Devers in the third. However, all five of James's pitches to Devers were 101-102.

In the fourth inning, Darling is a little too honest when he says they have been "bragging" about Houston catcher Martin Maldonado's arm. After Kemp homers, Darling claims that the interference call in the first inning "woke the Astros up". (They sure took a long time getting out of bed.) Later in the inning, Darling drops a doozy: "This game is all about the Astros winning."

Anderson praises George Springer's "good hustle" - in going from first to second on a wild pickoff throw.

After J.D. Martinez is called out at first on a video review, Darling says "The Astros finally get a call." ... A few innings later, he says "They've gone through their bullpen like sieves."

In the eighth inning, we are told the Red Sox have not attempted a stolen base in the ALCS. ... Only four inning earlier, Bradley was thrown out trying to steal second.

Finally, Anderson crows that Reddick's catch in the top of the ninth "saved the game". (We may not like Joe Buck, but he is light years ahead of Anderson and says much more with only 20% of the words.)
Rick Porcello / Charlie Morton

Rick Porcello:
I'd much rather throw the shit out of my arm now and have it feel shitty for three months with a ring on my hand.
Charlie Morton has pitched only four innings since September 15 and has not appeared in a game since the final day of the regular season, back on September 30. I don't have the stats on guys who make starts on 17 days of rest, but I doubt they do all that well.

When Porcello and Morton faced each other in Houston on June 3, Boston won 9-3.

Jackie Bradley is the first position player in postseason history to start a game batting ninth and hit a grand slam. Two pitchers have done it, though; both Orioles and in the same postseason: Mike Cuellar (1970 ALCS Game 1) and Dave McNally (1970 World Series Game 3).

Elias: Alex Bregman has reached base on a walk or hit-by-pitch 10 times in this ALCS (8 BB, 2 HBP), the most over a three-game span in postseason history. ... George Springer has driven in two runs in each ALCS game. He's the first leadoff hitter in postseason history with three straight multiple-RBI games.

NLCS 4: The Dodgers won 2-1 in 13 innings, knotting the series at 2-2. Game 5 is in Los Angeles today at 5 PM.


Paul Hickman said...

After that 8th innnings from Kimbrel ...... I have gone to get another bottle of Southern Comfort !

Can I drink enough to be unconscious before he starts the 9th ?????

Paul Hickman said...

How did you go in the 9th ?

After he walked the bases full I was under the table in the foetal position ......

Thanks to Benny & Mookie for saving us from a potential disaster !

FenFan said...

Full text of Darling's comment:

This game is all about the Astros winning because they got the big weapon in Game 5 with Justin Verlander. Alex Cora does not have that type of weapon on his team.

What a jerk. I'm actually looking forward to the World Series being on FOX only because it means that it won't be on TBS.