BOSTON – These aren’t entirely the Houston Astros you love to hate, deep and indomitable and treating a World Series berth practically as a birthright.
In a game that was virtually a must-win, however, the Astros once again proved they were extremely difficult to beat, regardless of how talented their team is.
Despite getting just four outs from their starting pitcher, the Astros pieced together an inspiring relief effort and quieted Boston’s red-hot lineup long enough for backup catcher Jason Castro to smack a go-ahead RBI single in the top of the ninth inning, opening the floodgates to a 9-2 victory before a Fenway Park crowd that pivoted from delirious to stunned in mere moments.
The Astros are just six runs away from falling in a 3-1 ALCS hole. Instead, they will be playing baseball at Minute Maid Park at minimum one more game this season. It is tied, at 2-2. The Astros will play at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, 5 ET, for the control of the battle of attrition.
Dusty Baker, Astros manager says that this is like playing baseball with your child. “When you’re dead in the water and things aren’t going good, and then all of a sudden, boom, boom, boom, and you got seven runs. They’ve done that to us throughout the series and they know that we can do it too.
The turnabout was jarring, as unexpected as a seven-run ninth inning rally in which all the runs were scored with two outs – and with the winning blow delivered by a catcher with an .091 batting average in 26 career playoff plate appearances.
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In fact, Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi – reprising his heroic relief role for the 2018 World Series champs – was one strike from delivering the game to the bottom of the ninth, tied 2-2.
Castro’s 1-2 curveball landed in the right zone. Castro fouled off a pitch before drilling a single in the center. This gave Carlos Correa the win. Giddy with their new lives, the Astros had a gaggle of blue and orange parkas that bobbed around in the dugout.
They wouldn’t stop celebrating until Eovaldi was chased, and six more runs crossed the plate, three on Michael Brantley’s three-run double.
That rally was almost as startling as Houston’s pitching effort.
In Game 4, the Red Sox were unable to separate themselves after scoring 21 runs and hitting three grand slams. Xander Bogaerts’ two-run, first inning home run gave them a 2-1 lead and negated Bregman’s solo homer in the top of the inning.
When Zack Greinke was making his first appearance since Sept. 19, he was relieved with one out, one on the second. The script was still intact.
It was certain that the Boston offense would overwhelm an Astros bullpen which had already been forced to absorb many of the failings their starters. The Red Sox, however, seemed to be too determined on winning the game, as Brooks Raley and Phil Maton, Cristian Javier, Kendall Graveman, and Phil Maton emerged from the bullpen.
Alex Cora, Boston manager says “We had opportunities.” “I mean, because we have been so great for so many years that you will be able to play games like that.”
Greinke’s scoreless relief in Houston was completed by Greinke’s six-and-a-third innings. Javier contributed three hits while the pitchers threw around three walks and two hits.
Graveman hadn’t pitched two innings since April 3rd, but he surrendered just one walk in two scoreless innings.
Graveman says that he was mentally ready to take on three. He came from Seattle in July. “The bullpen conversation is that we’ll pick up someone if necessary. Today was an indicator of this, I believe.
The score was tied at 2-2 for a while, and Altuve defeated a Garrett Whitlock pitch to win the eighth.
Houston could not muster more than a Hunter Renfroe two-out walk.
As they often do they walk right in to make this series a series.
Correa says, “It was just beautiful today.” “It’s never easy, man.”
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