The Houston Astros pulled away from the Red Sox for a 9-1 victory in ALCS Game 5 on Wednesday and have now shocked Boston by taking back-to-back video games at Fenway Park. The Game 5 outcome signifies that the Red Sox — who had been simply six outs away from a 3-1 lead within the best-of-seven ALCS on Tuesday night time — now face a 3-2 deficit heading to Friday’s Game 6 in Houston. The Astros, in the meantime, at the moment are only one win away from their third AL pennant within the final 5 years and have two possibilities at residence to get it performed. 

Let’s run by way of some Game 5 takeaways.

Alvarez bought the scoring began in high of the second with a solo shot off Red Sox starter Chris Sale

Alvarez would single off the Green Monster subsequent at-bat and whereas the Astros did not rating that inning, it did lead to irritating pitches for Sale. 

Then got here the highest of the sixth. 

Jose Altuve singled after which Michael Brantley reached on an error when Red Sox first baseman (*5*) dropped the throw on what regarded like a groundout. Alex Bregman adopted with a weak grounder proper again to Sale on the primary pitch. Alvarez picked him up with a two-run double to proper area.

The sport was damaged open. Yuli Gurriel would knock residence Alvarez on an RBI double and Jose Siri adopted with a two-RBI single. Just like that, it was 6-0 Astros after a five-run body.

With the Astros including one other run within the seventh, it meant that after the primary inning in Game 4 up till the Rafael Devers‘ homer within the backside of the seventh of Game 5, the Astros had outscored the Red Sox 15-0 within the span of 14 1/2 innings. Quite the distinction from Games 2-3. 

They additionally tacked on two extra runs within the ninth inning, giving them 9 runs within the ninth inning in Games 4 and 5. 

Valdez steps up for Astros

Astros starters in Games 1-4 of the ALCS had labored simply 6 2/3 innings, permitting an absurd 16 runs in that point. As a outcome, the bullpen additionally had some points in Games 2 and three. Manager Dusty Baker could not actually do a lot to assist his staff win in these video games together with his pitchers performing so poorly. The bullpen was wonderful in Game 4, however the potential for one other quick begin left open the choice of his bullpen being gassed and shedding Game 5. 

Instead, Valdez dominated. He turned the primary ever pitcher to begin the sport by retiring greater than 9 straight hitters in Fenway Park in postseason play. He bought 12. Yes, he had an ideal sport going by way of 4 innings. Devers singled to lead off the underside of the fifth. Valdez hit the following batter with a pitch, however then bought a double play after which one other groundout to shut issues down. 

In his eight sturdy innings of labor, Valdez solely allowed one run (a solo homer to the most effective energy hitters in baseball) on three hits whereas placing out 5 and strolling only one. He solely regarded like there could be bother in that fifth inning, however bought out of it with groundballs. That’s what he was doing all night time. He was so dominant, Astros outfielders barely even bought any motion. He bought a whopping 14 groundball outs in contrast to simply three flyouts (and two of these had been his final two batters confronted). He had heavy sinker utilization (60 of his 93 pitches), so this was wonderful execution of a transparent sport plan. When he needed to get whiffs, he broke out the curve, which bought swings and misses seven of the 30 occasions he threw it. 

Per the Fox broadcast, Valdez is the second pitcher ever to go not less than eight innings and permit three or fewer hits within the postseason in Fenway Park. The different? Bob Gibson. 

Wow. 

This was an ace-type outing when the Astros desperately wanted it. Kudos to Valdez. 

Sale regarded like outdated self… for 5 innings

The last numbers do not look wonderful for Sale (5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 Okay), nevertheless it was very encouraging given how unhealthy he’d regarded late within the common season and thru two playoff begins. The seven strikeouts had the look of classic Sale. He was pumping 96-97-mph fastballs and getting misses together with his wipeout slider. He wasn’t Prime Sale or something, however he was a whole lot of the best way again. The distinction between the very best model of Sale and this one was he clearly ran out of fuel within the sixth inning. He was dealing earlier than that. 

Sale is probably going performed for the series — I’m unsure how sensible it will be to deliver him in aid in a potential Game 7 — but when the Red Sox take each video games in Houston to advance to the World Series, they will have to be ok with giving Sale a begin early within the series. 

While we’re right here, let’s level out that, amazingly, this was the primary American League playoff sport this postseason by which each beginning pitchers went not less than 5 innings. This was the 14th AL playoff sport. 

Red Sox offense utterly cools off 

The Red Sox offense had been traditionally nice in Games 2 and three of this series. They’d been a wrecking crew just about your entire playoffs after getting shut out in Game 1 of the ALDS. A two-run Xander Bogaerts shot within the first inning of Game 4 regarded like enterprise as common. 

Instead, the wheels have fallen off. After trying completely hopeless, the Astros pitching workers has held the Red Sox to only one run within the 17 innings after Game 4’s first inning. 

  • Kiké Hernández was the most well liked Red Sox hitter of all of them going 17 for 29 with 4 doubles and 5 homers from ALDS Game 2 by way of ALCS Game 3. He’s 1 for his final 10. 
  • Kyle Schwarber hit the game-breaking grand slam in Game 3. He’s now 0 for his final 10. 
  • J.D. Martinez has been hitless within the final two video games after driving residence six with 4 hits, together with two residence runs and a double, in Games 2 and three. 
  • After being one of many few Red Sox to hit the ball in Game 4, Bogaerts returned to struggling, posting an 0 for 4 night time. 

With these key items struggling, the offense all of a sudden turns into a bit punchless. Devers can solely accomplish that a lot on his personal (he had two of the Red Sox’s three hits and homered for the one run). 

Also, Hunter Renfroe grounded into two double performs and struck out. He’s now 1 for 14 this series. Given that Schwarber has solely been enjoying first base for a couple of months and each infrequently it exhibits, it could be a good suggestion for Red Sox supervisor Alex Cora — who has now misplaced consecutive postseason video games for the primary time in his managerial career- —  to combine issues up shifting ahead. That would entail enjoying Schwarber in left area with Bobby Dalbec at first base, pushing Renfroe to the bench. 

We clearly have to credit score the Astros pitchers right here whereas additionally acknowledging the offensive barrage from the Red Sox that after regarded too relentless to be contained has fizzled. 

Next: Game 6 in Houston

Thanks to each starters getting some size into the sport and the time without work for journey on Thursday, each bullpens might be good and rested for Game 6. Trailing three video games to two and happening the street means the Red Sox are dealing with steep odds at coming again, nevertheless it’s occurred earlier than (Red Sox followers can attest). 

It’s possible the Astros will ship Luis Garcia to the hill whereas the Red Sox counter with ace Nathan Eovaldi

Garcia left Game 2 early with a knee harm. He hasn’t been changed on the ALCS roster and all indications are it was a minor illness. The 24-year-old right-hander was 11-8 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.17 WHIP within the common season. He was shelled in each of his postseason begins. He was loads higher at residence than the street this season, however the Red Sox touched him up in Minute Maid Park in Game 2. 

Eovaldi, 31, was 11-9 with a 3.75 ERA and 1.19 WHIP within the common season. He has a 3.45 ERA in 15 2/3 innings in his three begins this postseason, however he was additionally charged with 4 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning in taking the loss in Game 4. 

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