October 16, 2021

ALCS 2: Red Sox 9, Astros 5

Red Sox - 440 110 000 - 9 11  0
Astros - 000 300 002 - 5 8 0

The Red Sox became the first team in major league history to hit two grand slams in a postseason game. The blasts came in each of the first two innings as Boston tied the ALCS at one victory apiece.

J.D. Martinez lined a bases-loaded home run to right field in the first inning off Astros starter Luis Garcia. Rafael Devers connected for a grand slam against Jake Odorizzi in the second, lifting a high fly ball down the right field line.

Kiké Hernández added a solo shot in the fourth, tying a Red Sox record with his fifth home run in a single postseason (Todd Walker 2003, David Ortiz 2004 and 2013).

How hot is Hernández? How historic has his postseason been?
Hernández is the first Red Sox player to hit five home runs within a five-game postseason span.
Hernández is the first player in MLB history with 15 hits within a five-game postseason span.
Hernández is the first player in MLB history with 9 extra-base hits within a five-game postseason span.
Hernández is the first player in MLB history with 34 total bases within a five-game postseason span.

Hernández's 34 total bases in his last five games is the most any Red Sox hitter has collected across any five-game stretch in franchise history. The previous record was 32 by Kevin Millar from July 21-25, 2004.

The Red Sox have had 10 or more hits in each of their last five postseason games, which is a franchise record. It also ties the MLB record for consecutive 10+ hit games in a single postseason, with the 1989 Cubs, 2002 Angels, and 2004 Astros.

The Astros strung together three hits and walk against Nathan Eovaldi (5.1-5-3-1-3, 81) after two were out in the fourth and knocked two solo shots off Darwinzon Hernandez in the ninth, but this game was never close and was never in any danger of getting close. From FanGraphs:

Game 3 will be at Fenway Park on Monday at 8 PM ET.

MLBTV on Apple TV allows a viewer to overlay the home team's radio broadcast over the video. The Astros radio guys (ARG: Robert Ford and former pitcher Steve Sparks) were a constant source of amusement and annoyance (but more annoyance, certainly). In the first inning, Sparks (I assume) mentioned Xander Bogaerts likes to swing at high fastballs, so a pitcher's strategy would be to throw him pitches a little bit higher than what he likes, trying to get him to chase, then maybe go a little higher than that next time. The other guy replied, in complete seriousness, as if he was hearing this strategy for the first time: "That's a very interesting tactic." (Laura listened to them for Game 1, also. They were soft-spoken and quite sedate . . . until the Astros starting coming back, when they suddenly turned extremely loud and boisterous.)

Astros starter Luis Garcia (1-2-5-3-2, 33) missed with his first two pitches and Kyle Schwarber doubled to the wall in right. Center fielder Chas McCormick made a diving catch on Hernández's shallow fly ball for the first out. Garcia got ahead of Rafael Devers 0-2, before throwing four straight balls. Bogaerts whiffed and Alex Verdugo walked to load the bases. Martinez lined an 0-1 fastball on the outer half into the right field seats for a grand slam. (Martinez has 28 RBIs in his 26 career postseason games. Only Lou Gehrig (32) tallied more RBIs across his first 26 October contests.)

Ford's radio call was so nonchalant that it actually caused me to momentarily doubt what I was seeing. That was a home run, right? But no one is making even a small fuss. Maybe it wasn't a home run. Was time called before the swing? Was there a flag on the play? . . . Ford must be a proud graduate of the Hawk Harrelson School of Broadcasting, where you learn on Day 1 that if the opposing team does anything good, the best response is to simply ignore it. I remember one Harrelson moment from years ago. His complete call of an opposing home run was: "There's a fly ball to right." And then there was dead silence . . . until the first pitch was taken by the next batter, at which point he continued as if nothing had happened.

In the bottom of the second, the ARG said that there was a lot of pressure on the Red Sox, because what if they lose this game, especially after jumping out so quickly to a 4-0 lead. While the Red Sox did not hear this silly statement, they did promptly score another four runs as an FU.

Garcia walked Kevin Plawecki on four pitches to start the second inning. Then shortstop Carlos Correa did what the ARG told me he does so well: he took charge and summoned the manger and trainer to the mound. Garcia was apparently hurt and left the game. Later reports said something about his right knee. Jake Odorizzi came in from the bullpen and nearly 17 minutes passed before he threw a pitch.

The ARG said, as everyone announcer has done for decades, that Odorizzi, because he was relieving a guy who left with an injury, would "get as much time as he needs" to warm-up. It turns out this is not true. Rule 5.07(b) states: "If a sudden emergency causes a pitcher to be summoned into the game without any opportunity to warm up, the umpire-in-chief shall allow him as many pitches as the umpire deems necessary." This is prevent a pitcher from taking two hours to get ready, I suppose.

During this delay, ARG Steve Sparks told a story about how he was in a similar situation during his career. He was in the Athletics bullpen and starter Tim Hudson hurt himself warming up for the second inning at Fenway Park. Sparks had to come in and he said he probably rushed his warm-up because he felt like he was holding up the game and 35,000 fans were watching him. (I tried to find this regular season game, but came up completely empty and was convinced Sparks made the whole thing up. I figured out later that it was 2003 ALDS Game 4.) He praised Odorizzi for taking his time. (A few innings alter, after Ordorizzi had been suitably rocked, both guys were whining and complaining Odorizzi wasn't given a break between finishing his warm-up and facing his first batter.)

Odorizzi had a rough beginning. Christian Arroyo singled into left and, after Schwarber struck out, Hernández singled to left-center. Devers lifted a 1-1 pitch down the right field line. It stayed fair – and Boston had an 8-0 lead.

There has been only one other game in Red Sox history in which they had grand slams in both the first and second innings. Bill Buckner and Tony Armas were the big boppers on August 7, 1984, at Fenway, against the Tigers. Both slams came against Jack Morris. Boston got five runs in each of those two innings and won 12-7. . . . The Red Sox last hit two grand slams in a game on May 22, 2008, when (and this is going back a ways) On Fire and Dr. Doubles connected against the Royals.

In 120 years of "modern era" baseball, there have been only five games in which a team hit two grand slams in the first two innings:
May 9, 1961 - Orioles, in 13-5 win over Twins
July 18, 1962 - Twins, in 14-3 win over Cleveland (both in first inning)
April 12, 1980 - Brewers, in 18-1 win over Red Sox (both in second inning)
August 7, 1984 - Red Sox, in 12-7 win over Tigers
May 2, 2021 - Dodgers, in 16-4 win over Brewers
In the top of the third, Hunter Renfroe was called out on strikes on a outside splitter. He said something to plate umpire Rob Drake and the ARG disapproved and assumed Drake was probably saying something like: "Hey, the first two innings took two hours* to play. Let's move things alone." In other words, they considered it perfectly acceptable if an umpire were to call someone out on Ball 2 and then justify it by pointing out that because the batter's team had taken too much time scoring runs, he was going to penalize them so the game ends faster. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's a fucked-up point of view.

While all of this was happening, the Astros weren't doing shit with Eovaldi. He gave up a little bloopy two-out single in the first before setting down the next nine Astros. Mixed in there was a 41-minute wait between his first and second innings.

Hernández pounded a low splitter to deep left in the fourth for a home run, which upped his postseason batting average at .516 (16-for-31). With two outs, Bogaerts singled and Verdugo doubled and the Red Sox seemed poised to add more runs to their total, but Martinez struck out looking, though not before hitting a long drive down the right field line that was a little bit foul.

Eovaldi got the first two in the fourth, but he issued a nine-pitch walk to Yordan Alvarez. Then Correa singled, Kyle Tucker doubled in one run, and Yuri Gurriel singled in two more. (*: The time of game after four innings was 2:06.)

Of the Red Sox's 11 strikeouts in the game, six were called strike threes, including the last two outs in the fourth and the first two outs in the sixth. For some reason, they were watching a lot of good pitches.

The Red Sox could not add to their lead, despite a couple of chances. They had men at first and second with two outs in the eighth, thanks to a BB & HBP, but Devers fouled to first. Bogaerts doubled to start the ninth and was on third with one out. Martinez grounded to third. Alex Bregman fielded the ball near the bag, tried to tag Bogaerts before throwing to first. The original call on X was safe, but it was overturned.

Eovaldi was pulled after a one-out single in the sixth. Adam Ottavino finished the inning, though not without allowing a single. The ARG noted during the pitching change that "Alex Cora knows things can escalate with the Houston offense". The ARG need to be taught the difference between "possible" and "probable".

Garrett Whitlock, who did not pitch yesterday as a possible Game 1 victory was flushed away, threw two scoreless innings, retiring six of his seven batters with neither fuss nor muss. Hernandez's ninth went as follows: K, HR, K, HR. It seemed like a K would be next, but Cora was not going to find out. He summoned Ryan Brasier, who got Jose Altuve to fly out to the warning track in left.

Birthday Baseball 

Today's victory evened the Red Sox's record on my birthday to 5-5 (though one of those games was played 51 years before October 16 became my birthday).
1912 World Series Game 8: Red Sox 3, Giants 2 (10)
1975 World Series Game 6: Reds 6, Red Sox 2
1999 ALCS Game 3: Red Sox 13, Yankees 1
2003 ALCS Game 7: Yankees 7, Red Sox 6 (11)
2004 ALCS Game 3: Yankees 19, Red Sox 8
2007 ALCS Game 4: Cleveland 7, Red Sox 3
2008 ALCS Game 5: Red Sox 8, Rays 7
2013 ALCS Game 4: Tigers 7, Red Sox 3
2018 ALCS Game 3: Red Sox 8, Astros 2
2021 ALCS Game 2: Red Sox 9, Astros 5

Red Sox, Most Total Bases In A Single Postseason
42 - David Ortiz, 2004 (14 games)
37 - Kevin Youkilis, 2007 (14 games)
36 - David Ortiz, 2013 (16 games)
35 - Kiké Hernandez, 2021 (7 games; postseason in progress)

Red Sox RBI Leaders (Postseason)
57 - David Ortiz
38 - Manny Ramirez
33 - Jason Varitek
25 - Dustin Pedroia
24 - Rafael Devers     (active)
22 - J.D. Martinez     (active)
22 - Trot Nixon
21 - Nomar Garciaparra

Red Sox Teammates With 4+ RBI In A Postseason Game
Mo Vaughn & Nomar Garciaparra, 1998 ALDS 1 at Cleveland (W 11-3)
Jose Offerman & John Valentin, 1999 ALDS 4 vs Cleveland (W 23-7)
Rafael Devers & J.D. Martinez, 2021 ALDS 2 at Astros (W 9-5)

Nathan Eovaldi / Luis Garcia

In 2018, the Red Sox lost ALCS Game 1 to the Astros. Then they went 4-0 against the Astros and 4-1 against the Dodgers.

In 2013, the Red Sox lost ALCS Game 1 to the Tigers. Then they went 4-1 against the Tigers and 4-2 against the Cardinals.

In 2004, the Red Sox lost ALCS Game 1, ALCS Game 2, and ALCS Game 3 to the Yankees. Then they went 4-0 against the Yankees and 4-0 against the Cardinals.

I think we have the Astros right where we want them.


Paul Hickman said...

The Sox Fate, surely rests with Nate !

Paul Hickman said...

As it turns out I was completely WRONG ......

JD & Mr D decided to end proceedings very early !

Paul Hickman said...

IF I had to guess ... . I would say in the roughly 250 000 games across 150 years

That is surely 1 of only a handful of such happenings ?

2 Grand Slams in a Game - maybe say 80 - 100 times ?

2 Grand Slams in Successive Innings - maybe a dozen or so ?

But most importantly 2 Slams in the first 2 innings - maybe only 3-4 times ????

So what we saw is basically as rare as RockingHorse Shit

Unreal !

allan said...

And then there is one of the truly "unbreakable" records: Fernando Tatis hitting two grand slams in one inning on April 23, 1999, against the Dodgers. And somehow, BOTH of them came off Chan Ho Park!

Other unbreakable records:
Johnny Vander Meer's consecutive no-hitters in 1938.
Will White's 680 innings pitched and 75 complete games in 1879.