Houston, Texas, USA : Jackie Bradley Jr.’s eighth inning grand slam helped the Boston Red Sox beat the Houston Astros 8-2 in Game 3 of the ALCS on Tuesday night in Houston.
The Red Sox grabbed a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-seven set with Game 4 set for Minute Maid Park on Wednesday. The Astros have dropped consecutive games for the first time since Aug. 30-31 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Dallas Keuchel bounced back from a bad first inning, but it would be the bullpen that allowed Boston to take the game on Tuesday, with Joe Smith allowing a go-ahead solo home run in the sixth, then Roberto Osuna having a meltdown in the eighth and allowing five runs including a grand slam which put the game out of reach.
Boston came out swinging in the top of the first inning, getting back-to-back singles off of Keuchel to start the game. J.D. Martinez put Boston on top next with an RBI-double to make it 1-0 with no outs. An RBI-groundout allowed Boston to score another with the Astros seceding a run in place of the first out, but that moved Martinez to third, though Keuchel would get a groundout and lineout leave him stranded there and limit the damage to a 2-0 deficit. Jose Altuve gave Houston their first hit of the day with a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, followed by Alex Bregman who made it back-to-back singles. A groundball from Yuli Gurriel forced Bregman out at second but left runners on the corners which set up Marwin Gonzalez for an RBI-single to trim the lead to 2-1 before Nathan Eovaldi was able to end the inning.
Keuchel had a much better top of the second, getting Boston in order on a couple of fly outs and a groundout. Eovaldi had a similarly effective inning, getting through the bottom of the Astros order 1-2-3.
In the top of the third, Keuchel was able to get two quick outs before issuing two walks to give Boston another scoring threat, but Tony Kemp saved a couple of runs with an amazing leaping catch against the left-field scoreboard for the final out. George Springer led off the bottom of the inning with a single through the infield shift but would be out at second on a fielder’s choice for the first out. Bregman worked a walk next to put runners on first and second, then both moved up a bag on a groundout, but would be stranded there with Eovaldi getting a flyout to end the inning.
Keuchel allowed an infield single to start the top of the fourth but was able to erase it with two fly outs and a groundout. Eovaldi, in the bottom of the inning, was able to put the Astros down in order on just nine pitches.
Continuing to distance himself from the bad first inning, Keuchel was able to get three vintage groundouts to get the top of Boston’s order in a three up, three down top of the fifth. Jose Altuve came back from a 0-2 count to work a two-out walk in the bottom of the inning, then came all the way around to score and tie the game on an RBI double by Alex Bregman that could’ve been a groundout but instead made it past Rafael Devers at third base for Boston. Eovaldi would leave Bregman stranded on second to end the inning and send the 2-2 game to the sixth.
Houston went to their bullpen in the top of the sixth, bringing in Joe Smith who was only able to get one out before Boston took the lead back on a solo home run by Steve Pearce, making it 3-2. Tony Sipp came in next and worked around a walk to end the half-inning. Boston left Eovaldi in the game in the bottom of the inning, and he was able to work around a two-out infield single by Carlos Correa by getting a flyout to end the inning.
Ryan Pressly was next out of the Astros bullpen for the top of the seventh, and with a little defensive help from a great barehanded play by Alex Bregman, was able to get a 1-2-3 inning including a couple of big strikeouts. Boston finally made the move to their bullpen in the bottom of the inning, bringing in Ryan Brasier who got two quick outs before a perfect bunt-single by Altuve to get a runner on for Bregman, but Bregman would fly out to end the inning.
Trying to keep it a one-run game, Houston went to closer Roberto Osuna in the top of the eighth to face the middle of Boston’s order but he fell apart and loaded the bases by hitting a batter with two outs, then hit another batter to give Boston a bigger lead at 4-2. With the bases still loaded, Osuna left a fastball in the zone for Jackie Bradley Jr. who blew the game open with a grand slam to make it an 8-2 game. Collin McHugh came in for the final out of the inning. Matt Barnes was next on the mound for Boston in the bottom of the eighth and got a couple of outs before the Red Sox went to Joe Kelly who ended the inning.
Hector Rondon took over in the top of the ninth and was able to keep the Red Sox from inflicting any more damage to send things to the bottom of the inning. Eduardo Rodriguez was the final reliever of the night for Boston, who closed out the game and the big win.
Game 4: The Astros will have to shrug today’s loss off quick and try to tie the series back up tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 7:39 PM Wednesday night and the game can be seen on TBS. We’ll get another matchup of starters from the backend of both rotations, with Charlie Morton taking the bump for the Astros while the Red Sox send out Rick Porcello. Morton will be heavily rested, which will hopefully translate to a strong pitching performance to stop the recent success of Boston’s offense. The Astros will need the offense to show up tomorrow and get a win to turn the ALCS into a best-of-3.
Image: Boston Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. (C) celebrates his grand slam home run against the Houston Astros with teammates Rafael Devers (L), Brock Holt (12), and Sandy Leon during the eighth inning of Game 3 of the American League Championship Series on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park in Houston