Houston, Texas, USA : Boston Red Sox pitchers held the Houston Astros to just five hits, and Red Sox third-baseman Rafael Devers continued his surprising postseason with a three-run homerun Thursday night as the Red Sox won the American League Championship Series.
Boston will advance to the World Series, where they’ll face the National League series winner. The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 in that series, and can wrap it up in Game 5 on Friday.
The Red Sox’s 4-1 win Thursday night was a departure for this year’s ALCS; no other game had seen fewer than nine runs. Boston starter David Price, who had gone 0-9 in his first dozen playoff games, gave up just three hits in six innings while striking out nine.
“That was very, very special, absolutely,” Price said after the game. “But we want more.” Since breaking an 88-year curse with a World Series title in 2004, Boston has added titles in 2007 and 2013, and will get another chance this year.
That meant Devers’ home run was more than enough to give Boston the win. The 21-year-old, in his second year in the majors, is hitting .375 this postseason, versus just .240 in the regular season.
The home run chased Houston starter Justin Verlander, one of the best pitchers in baseball, and effectively ended the Astros’ hopes of winning back-to-back World Series.
The Astros offense simply had no answer for Price in Game 5, while the Red Sox were able to do damage against Justin Verlander to win the series. Verlander went six innings, during which he allowed two home runs, one a solo shot to J.D. Martinez and the other a game-defining three-run home run by Rafael Devers. Marwin Gonzalez hit a solo homer late, but it would be a futile run in the loss.
Verlander got the win-or-go-home Game 5 started in the top of the first and was able to do something the Astros hadn’t done in the three previous games; keep the Red Sox off the scoreboard in the first inning. Verlander was able to get two quick pop outs and then work around a two-out walk to get through the first frame. Jose Altuve got the first hit of the night in the bottom of the inning, a two-out single, but would be left stranded there with Price striking out Carlos Correa to end the inning.
A rare error by Alex Bregman allowed Boston to get a runner on first in the top of the second, then Boston got a two-out single to put runners on first and second, followed by a walk to load the bases, but Verlander was able to strike out Mookie Betts to strand all three. Yuli Gurriel led off the bottom of the inning with a single but would be unable to advance with Price retiring the next three in order.
J.D. Martinez, after getting saved by the umpire on what should have been a strike three, took the next pitch to the Crawford Boxes to give Boston a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Price meanwhile made it a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning to send things on to the fourth.
Verlander was able to get a three up, three down inning of his own in the top of the fourth. Gurriel made it 2-for-2 on the night with a two-out double in the bottom of the inning, but Price would get a strikeout to strand him again.
Martinez continued to hit Verlander well, getting a two-out single in the top of the fifth, but Verlander would erase that with a lineout to end the top half. Price continued to match Verlander inning for inning, putting the Astros down in order yet again in the bottom of the inning.
Verlander allowed a leadoff double to start the sixth, then a single to put runners on the corners with no outs. That set up Rafael Devers who delivered for Boston with a huge three-run homer to make it 4-0 Boston. Houston continued to get shutout on offense in the bottom half of the inning, with Price adding another 1-2-3 inning to his dominant night.
Verlander’s night was done after the four-run six innings of work, and first out of Houston’s bullpen was Roberto Osuna, who had a quick inning to keep the score at 4-0. The bottom of the seventh also marked the end of the line for Price, who would end his night with six terrific shutout innings for Boston. Matt Barnes was the first reliever for the Red Sox and watched the lead be trimmed down to three with a two-out solo home run by Gonzalez to make it a 4-1 game. Kemp was next and worked a walk, resulting in another call to the bullpen to bring in Game 3 starter Nathan Eovaldi, who would get the third out.
Osuna made it a multi-inning appearance by returning in the top of the eighth and worked around a one-out double to keep the lead at three runs. Eovaldi stayed in the game for Boston in the bottom of the inning and worked around a two-out single by George Springer to put the Red Sox three outs away.
In the top of the ninth, the Astros stayed with Osuna’s hot hand, and he was able to retire the side. Boston went to closer Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the inning, who get the save to end the game and the Astros’ season.
Image :The Boston Red Sox’s Rafael Devers celebrates his three-run home run Thursday against the Houston Astros during the sixth inning in Game 5 of a baseball American League Championship Series in Houston. The Red Sox won 4-1 and will return to the World Series.