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Red Sox defeat Astros 4-1, advance to World Series

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The Red Sox closed out the ALCS with a 4-1 victory over the Astros in Houston, and are heading to the World Series.

MLB: ALCS-Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox were one win away from their fourth trip to the World Series in 15 years, and now they’ve got it: the Red Sox won 4-1 against the Astros in Houston, ending the Astros’ season and clinching another trip to the Fall Classic in the process.

After dropping the first game at home, the Red Sox offense came alive, scoring at least seven runs in each of the last three games. The big blows have come from Jackie Bradley Jr., who had a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3, and a two-run shot in Game 4. It was a Rafael Devers homer that made the difference this time, and while the Red Sox didn’t score seven or more runs, four was enough with six shutout innings from David Price, and a combined bullpen effort from Matt Barnes, Nathan Eovaldi, and Craig Kimbrel.

The Astros, defending champions, are done in 2018, but their roster remains frightening: do not be surprised if they’re back here in this space again next October.

We live blogged the entire game, so if you want to relive it all blow-by-blow, it’s here for you below.

Red Sox vs. Astros ALCS Game 5 Live Results

Hello, it’s Marc Normandin here to live blog us all through the postseason. Want to read this live blog from the beginning? Scroll down to the “1st inning” marker and work your way back up!

9th inning: Boston will send Bradley, Betts, and Benintendi to the plate for the top of the ninth. Bradley lines out to Gurriel, and Betts puts a charge into one, but it’s caught deep in left-center. Benintendi is up with two outs, and [rubs eyes] Craig Kimbrel is warming up in the bullpen? Well, okay. He got a six-out save on Wednesday night in Game 4, but I guess he does have a few days to recover if he manages to close this game out. One thing at a time, though.

Benintendi strikes out swinging — Osuna got nine outs, and kept the Red Sox at four runs. And here comes Craig Kimbrel for the bottom of the ninth.

Kimbrel did get a six-out save in Game 4, it’s true, but he sure had to work for it, and also took years off the lives of everyone watching it in the process. Maybe working back-to-back nights will mean the rust is off. The extensive rust.

It’s Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, and Marwin Gonzalez in the bottom of the ninth for Houston as they try to keep their season alive. Correa strikes out swinging without Kimbrel throwing a ball, so... maybe Kimbrel is warmed up.

It’s definitely still maybe, because Gurriel gets a 2-0 count to start his plate appearance. Make that three balls. And four: Gurriel walks, and Gonzalez, who has already homered today, is up with a runner on. The Astros have two outs left, and three runs to score.

The Red Sox are maybe not going to mess around with Kimbrel too long if it comes to that, as Eduardo Rodriguez is back in the bullpen, and Ryan Brasier has joined him.

Kimbrel must have noticed, because he throws three strikes in a row to postseason terror Marwin Gonzalez. The Astros are down to their final out of 2018, and Tony Kemp is at bat.

Tony Kemp flies out to Andrew Benintendi, and the Red Sox have clinched a spot in the 2018 World Series! Boston wins, 4-1, and they even got Kimbrel Classic to help them with it.

Well, happy birthday to Alex Cora, huh?

8th inning: Osuna remains in the game, with the Red Sox sending up Moreland, Kinsler, and Devers. Moreland makes the first out, but Kinsler follows up with a double to the left field corner — Kemp nearly got him at second with a great throw, but Kinsler just got in with enough time to spare to avoid a challenge from Houston.

A wild pitch to Devers, who hit a three-run homer last time up, moves Kinsler to third. Devers doesn’t drive in anyone this time, however, as he’s called out on strikes. Brock Holt is pinch-hitting for Christian Vazquez now with two outs— we’ll see being Sandy Leon in later behind the plate.

Holt grounds out to first, so that’s that. 4-1 Red Sox as the Astros come to the plate again. Eovaldi, to no one’s surprise, is back out to pitch. He’ll face Brian McCann, who is in for Marisnick following Reddick’s pinch-hit appearance. Bregman and Springer will follow.

McCann grounds out — five outs to go. Bregman has worked a 2-2 count on five pitches, but strikes out on the sixth: a 102 mph heater. Well, if you found up: it was 101.6 according to Gameday, which is still ridiculous.

Springer singles on the first pitch, which brings up Altuve with two outs. Altuve works a 3-1 count, and then hits a shot right to Bradley in center for the third out. Eovaldi is probably done after four outs, but they were huge ones: the Astros have just three left in their season.

7th inning: There are hugs in the Red Sox dugout, so after 93 pitches, that could be it for short-rest David Price. If that’s it, well, he threw six shutout innings with nine strikeouts and no walks, scattering three hits. If the Red Sox can hold on — and do so without losing their current lead — Price will earn his first-ever postseason victory, and the Red Sox will be in the World Series.

There’s a lot of game left, and the Astros are very, very capable of making four runs appear on the board in a hurry, so Houston shouldn’t get down and Boston shouldn’t get too excited.

Roberto Osuna comes in to the game to replace Verlander, as Houston attempts to keep the lead from getting any larger. Benintendi and Martinez both ground out, so, good start! Bogaerts goes down harmlessly, too, and we’re on to the bottom of the seventh.

Here’s Matt Barnes, who left Game 4 after just one batter, which is something Red Sox fans are probably pretty happy about now after not being thrilled about it then. Barnes might not be out there very long, as Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez are both warming in the pen. Rodriguez is a starter but has been used in relief this postseason (also for one batter in Game 4), and Eovaldi was the Game 3 starter. The Red Sox leaned on their pen heavily in Game 4, including a six-out save from Kimbrel, so they want to try to end this now with starters if they have to: the World Series begins on Tuesday, and tomorrow is a day off either way, so it makes sense.

Correa grounds out, bringing up Gurriel. Gurriel follows suit. There’s a run, though! Marwin Gonzalez goes deep with a solo shot, cutting the lead to 4-1. This dinger happened, of course, following a lengthy conversation by the announce team about Matt Barnes not giving up a run yet this postseason.

As I said earlier: there’s a lot of game left. Here’s Tony Kemp. He works a 3-1 count from Barnes, and then fouls off the next pitch to make it full. Kemp gets the walk after seven pitches — Barnes isn’t going to be in very long. In fact, Cora is pulling him out now, for Nathan Eovaldi.

Josh Reddick is pinch-hitting, because he’s a lefty and lefties do better against Eovaldi than righties. And hey, Reddick does better against righties than lefties. That’s how platoons work!

Reddick hits it to the warning track in right, but Betts pulls it in. Boston is six outs away from the World Series; the Astros are six outs from the end of their season.

6th inning: Tony Kemp nearly repeats his ridiculous leaping grab from earlier in the series, but this one clearly hits the wall first, so instead, it’s a double for Moreland. That brings up Kinsler, and also gets the Astros’ bullpen moving.

Kinsler follows with a single to right, and then Devers hits a three-run homer to make it 4-0 Red Sox. There still aren’t any outs in the sixth, either. That changes in a hurry after the dinger, with Vazquez and Bradley both making outs. That brings up the top of the order again.

Betts flies out, too, ending the top of the sixth, but the damage has been done. It’s now 4-0 Red Sox.

Price is back out for the bottom of the sixth, and he’ll face the top of the Astros order, starting with Alex Bregman. Mookie just robbed Bregman of a homer, and this time, said robbery wasn’t controversial. Clean catch, one down.

I love every Astros fan with the comical I’M NOT INTERFERING reaction to this catch:


Springer follows this up with a ground out, bringing up Altuve. Price is at 91 pitches, so this frame might very well be it. Maybe with the 4-0 lead, though, the Red Sox will try to squeeze just a little more out of him. We’ll see.

Altuve strikes out to end the sixth, giving Price nine — a career-high in the postseason — and it’s 4-0, Boston.

5th inning: It’ll be Betts, Benintendi, and Martinez to kick off the fifth inning. Betts grounds out — quiet night from him so far. Bregman follows with a pop out to Bregman. The top of the Boston order needs to do a better job of making Verlander work: it took just five pitches to put away their 1-2 hitters.

Martinez works a 1-2 count, then grounds a single to center. Bogaerts gets another shot to extend an inning. He lines out to end the inning instead: 1-0, Red Sox. It’ll be Kemp, Maldonado, and Marisnick for the Astros in the bottom of the fifth.

Kemp strikes out — that’s eight now for Price, through 4-1/3. Maldonado doesn’t whiff, but he does fly out to center. I should give it a little more attention than that: Maldonado flew out to the warning track, in the first hard contact against Price in quite some time. Marisnick follows with a grounder to end the inning. That’s a 1-2-3 inning, and Price threw just nine pitches, so he should be available for the sixth, too, at least to start it. It’s 1-0 Red Sox after five full.

4th inning: Rafael Devers opens up the fourth by going down on strikes, and Vazquez follows that by going down 0-2. A couple of balls and fouls later, and Vazquez is still going, though, now on a 2-2 count. It took more pitches than Verlander wanted it to, but he eventually got Vazquez to strike out. Verlander has four punch outs and a pitch count of 60 through 3-2/3 innings.

Bradley gives Verlander a hand with a one-pitch third out, though, so the Astros can stop worrying about their ace’s pitch count for now. It’s 1-0 Red Sox as we head to the bottom of the fourth.

Well here’s a fun fact:

Jose Altuve leads off the bottom of the fourth against Price. His pitch count isn’t much different than Verlander’s, as he’s at 51 after five pitches to his first hitter of the frame. And now 52 pitches, after striking out Altuve swinging. Correa follows with his own strikeout — Price has racked up six of them so far. Here’s Yuli Gurriel.

And here’s some facial hair.

Gurriel has fouled off six pitches in a row in this plate appearance. Price is now up to 64 pitches. Finally, something that isn’t a foul — it’s a 1-2 count after seven pitches. Gurriel doubles! What an at-bat. The Astros have a runner in scoring position, and maybe even more importantly, they’ve made Price throw over 20 pitches this frame. Here’s Marwin Gonzalez.

It’s a 2-1 count after Gonzalez swings through an 85 mph changeup. He steps out, again — remember when that was going to stop being a thing hitters did every pitch? That was fun while it lasted — and then Price strikes him out, his seventh of the night. He’s at 73 pitches, and on three days rest, so there might only be one inning of this left for the Red Sox. It’s 1-0 for now, though, heading into the fifth.

3rd inning: Important update:

I guess this is as good of a time as any to say that in some parks, the “Google Assistant” ad behind home plate says “Google Ass” when blocked by hitters and the ump, but in other parks, it says “ogle Assistant.” Basically, this was a poorly planned ad campaign all around.

Benintendi was called out on strikes to open the third. And there’s the first run of the game: J.D. Martinez hits his first homer in what feels like forever, and it’s a 1-0 ballgame. Verlander quickly recovers and gets Bogaerts to fly out for the second out of the inning, and then the broadcast shows us Verlander staring at the umpire after the homer, because of what he believed should have been strike three. And hey, maybe it was strike three: it’s hard to tell from here because TBS’ pitch tracker widget is notoriously shitty!

Maybe it was a strike, though. Remember, all we can ask for is consistency from our umps, so that better be a ball later, too.

Moreland, making his first start of the ALCS, picks up a single to continue the frame. Ian Kinsler made the mistake of thinking he could get Bregman to screw up a second time, though, and that groundout is the end of the top half of the third. 1-0, Red Sox.

Here’s Jake Marisnick, who’s in the lineup instead of Josh Reddick with a lefty on the mound. He flies out on three pitches, but here’s Bregman again to make you forget your disappointment, Houston.

Bregman didn’t like that called strike three, but Gameday says he should have swung:

To be fair, Gameday isn’t 100 percent accurate, either, but it looked fine on television, too. Price has four strikeouts through 2-2/3. And there’s George Springer grounding out to end the third — 1-0, Red Sox.

2nd inning: Man, I love Alex Bregman:

Verlander picks up where he left off, getting Mitch Moreland to fly out on the first pitch. The Red Sox aren’t being as patient as they have been throughout this series, and that’s something to watch: Boston’s composure at the plate has helped them score 7, 8, and 8 runs in the last three games, all victories.

Ian Kinsler manages to reach on an error by Bregman, who didn’t quite nail the throw to first. Speaking of third base defensive issues, here’s the 21-year-old Rafael Devers. He’s quickly down 0-2, and stays alive with a foul ball on the third pitch of the at-bat.

Devers hits a ball to the warning track in left, and while Tony Kemp didn’t quite know where he was in the outfield and took a little hop just in case the wall was behind him, he made the play cleanly. Here’s Christian Vazquez, who is having a decent postseason at the plate. At least compared to his regular season, which was... not great!

Vazquez is down 0-2 in a hurry after a wicked slider in the dirt. He keeps alive long enough to pick up a single, and there are two on for Jackie Bradley Jr., who has had himself an impressive ALCS considering he’s got all of three hits. When two of them are homers — one a grand slam — it’s easy to leave your mark even with just a few knocks.

Verlander has been watching what JBJ is doing with two outs, apparently, as he throws three balls to start. Verlander nearly gets a strikeout on a 3-2 count, but Bradley checks his swing — well, okay, the umps said he checked his swing, but maybe he didn’t — and now it’s bases loaded for Betts. That’s the kind if patience the Red Sox will need if they’re going to wear Verlander down and have a shot at the Houston bullpen.

Now, why did I say “to have a shot at the Houston bullpen,” you might ask? Well, because this is still Verlander — he strikes out Betts with the bases loaded, and it’s still 0-0.

Yuli Gurriel kicks off the bottom of the second with a single to center, which brings up Marwin Gonzalez, who was batting cleanup until the Astros decided Correa was feeling good enough to move up in the lineup. Gonzalez should terrify Red Sox fans and excite Astros fans, given how he’s been in the postseason(s).

Gonzalez flies out, but here comes Tony Kemp. This Astros’ lineup sure never stops being terrifying to opposing teams. Kemp follows with his own fly out, and then Martin Maldonado gets caught looking, so we’re still scoreless after two innings.

1st inning: Here we go, back in Houston for what the Red Sox are hoping is the final game at this stadium in 2018. The Astros, in case you were wondering? They do not want it to be the final game in Houston this season. Why can’t these two teams just agree on something?

Justin Verlander takes the mound in an attempt to keep the Astros’ season going beyond Game 5, and since he’s Justin Verlander, well, the Astros have a great chance at playing on Saturday night in Game 6, too. Just to prove that point, the right-handed ace gets Mookie Betts to pop out and last night’s hero, Andrew Benintendi, to fly out on a grand total of three pitches.

J.D. Martinez draws a walk to get the Red Sox their first baserunner of Game 4, though, and here comes shortstop Xander Bogaerts to try to do something with that. Bogaerts hits it to Alex Bregman — huge mistake, Xander — and that ends the threat before it ever really becomes one.

David Price starts on three days rest after a lengthy bullpen session to close out Game 4 — we know Price is capable of being dominant, but since it’s the postseason, well, we also know he’s capable of being dominated. From earlier this October:

As said, though, we know Price can be good. The Red Sox won Game 2, which Price started, even though he didn’t pick up the W himself. Can he finally get that first playoff win? He’s 0-9, and you know at this point it has to be weighing on him. He’s human, even if he can pitch like he’s more than that sometimes.

He’s off to a good start here in Game 5. One pitch, one out to get Alex Bregman, who once again is leading off for Houston. Price then strikes out George Springer, which brings up Jose Altuve in the three spot.

Altuve has been playing hurt, but you wouldn’t know it by watching him hit — he hits a sharp single to center for Houston’s first baserunner of the day. He’s clearly limited on the basepaths, but his wrists are sure fine. Here’s Carlos Correa, who is now batting fourth instead of near the bottom of the Astros’ lineup, as he has been for most of the postseason.

It’s a 2-2 count on Correa, and he takes a called strike three on the outside corner to end the bottom of the first. It’s still 0-0 in Houston.