Game 1: Astros: 7 Red Sox: 2
A rematch of the 2017 American League (AL) Division Series, the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox squared off once again to decide who would represent the AL in the 2018 World Series. Justin Verlander, arguably the best postseason pitcher in recent years, took the hill for the defending World Series champions, while the Red Sox countered with their own ace, Chris Sale. Sale, came off a decent AL Division Series against the New York Yankees where he posted a 1-0 record in two appearances, including one start, finishing the series with a modest 3.11 ERA, striking out nine batters in just over six innings of work. Sale showed early signs of a lack of control in game one, walking four batters in just as many innings. Although Sale only gave up one hit in this outing, he allowed the Astros offense to muster two runs and knock Sale out before he could complete five frames of work. Opposing him, Verlander showed why he was the Astros’ go-to guy, finishing with a line of six innings, only allowing two runs on two hits, striking out six Boston batters in the process. Houston relievers Ryan Pressly, Lance McCullers Jr. and Collin McHugh worked three shutout innings to hold the win for Verlander and the Astros. Two ninth inning home runs by right fielder Josh Reddick and first baseman Yuli Gurriel off Boston reliever Brandon Workman padded the lead for Houston, who coasted to a game one victory, putting early pressure on Boston to make a comeback beginning in game two.
Game 2: Red Sox: 7 Astros: 5
Coming off an embarrassing first game defeat at the hands of the Astros, in their second outing Boston showed the baseball world, once again, why they held the best record in baseball this season. Needing a win to tie the series, Boston showed a tremendous amount of grit, knocking around Houston starter Gerrit Cole for five runs on six hits, forcing a surprisingly early exit for Cole, who was pulled from the game by Astros skipper A.J. Hinch after six innings. Boston smacked Houston’s pitching staff to the tune of seven runs on nine hits. Boston center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. led the boys from Beantown with a one for four night, and three RBIs. Boston starting pitcher David Price bounced back from a rough last outing against the Yankees with a gritty start finishing with a line of just under five innings, giving up four runs on five hits, walking four Houston batters and striking out four. A shaky ninth inning by Boston closer Craig Kimbrel gave the Houston offense some life but, in the end, the Boston bats were just too much, and Boston easily won game two 7-5 over the Astros, tying the series at one a piece. The Astros looked to bounce back in game three, where they returned to Minute Maid Park in Houston in front of their home supporters.
Game 3: Red Sox: 8 Astros: 2
L: J. Smith
A two-run first inning and a five-run eighth inning by the Beantown bombers allowed them to coast to an 8-2 game three victory on the road against Houston. Boston supported starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi with clutch hitting throughout the lineup, and that combined with a great start by Eovaldi, Boston had their foot on the gas pedal all game. Eovaldi, pairing his above average arm strength with his ability to locate his off-speed pitches, kept the Houston offense off balance all game. Eovaldi exited the game after a solid six innings of work, where he allowed just two runs on six hits, while walking two and striking out four. Houston was unable to create many scoring opportunities due to numerous triple-digit fastballs thrown by Eovaldi, along with his ability to command his split finger pitch. Houston starter Dallas Keuchel had a decent start himself but was pulled from the game after throwing five innings and allowing only two Boston runs. Once Houston reliever Roberto Osuna came into the game, Boston’s bats came alive, putting up five runs in the eighth inning against Osuna to pad their lead, four of those runs coming off a clutch grand slam by Boston center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. A big win on the road, the Sox went ahead two games to one in the series, going into game four.
Game 4: Red Sox: 8 Astros: 6
A sixth-inning home run by, yet again, Boston center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. off Houston reliever Josh James put the final nail in the coffin in game four, with the Red Sox taking a commanding 3-1 series lead after an 8-6 victory. Boston starter Rick Porcello had a surprisingly rough outing against the Houston bats, working a mere four innings while giving up four runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out three. With Houston starter Charlie Morton only working a little over two innings, both bullpens would be called upon heavily in this game four slugfest. Boston was able to get Morton out of the game in the third inning after Morton allowed three quick Boston runs. Houston reliever Josh James fared no better, working little over three innings and allowing an additional three runs, including a monster home run hit by Bradley Jr. Boston’s offense totaled eight runs on 11 hits, and although Houston was able to mount a small comeback, Boston’s combination of clutch pitching and timely hitting was too much for the Astros, losing to Boston 8-6 and going down to the brink of being eliminated in a game five matchup.
Game 5: Red Sox: 4 Astros: 1
Facing elimination in their home ballpark, Houston turned to their ace and veteran postseason pitcher Justin Verlander once again. Verlander shut the Boston bats down in game one, and Houston was hoping for a similar outing to get them back to within striking distance of the Sox. Boston, one win away from their first World Series berth since 2013, had other plans. Designated hitter and regular season RBI leader J.D. Martinez slugged a 1-2 curveball over the left field fence, giving Boston an early 1-0 lead in the third inning. A controversial pitch that was called a ball by the home plate umpire allowed Martinez to extend the at bat, which ultimately lead to the home run. A clutch sixth inning three run home run by 21-year-old Boston third baseman Rafael Devers forced an exit from Verlander, and Boston never looked back. Boston starter David Price showed Red Sox fans why he is worth the $217 million contract he signed, shutting down the Astro offense. Price, working six shutout innings, allowed only three hits and struck out a career postseason high nine Astro batters. Once Price was out of the game, rookie skipper Alex Cora, celebrating his 43rd birthday, turned to his shaky bullpen to advance his boys to the Fall Classic. Houston second baseman Marwin Gonzalez gave the Astros a small ray of hope, hitting a solo home run off Boston relief pitcher Matt Barnes in the seventh inning, cutting the lead to 4-1 Boston. Cora, in a surprise move, called upon game three starter Nathan Eovaldi to pitch in relief, showing just how important this win was to Boston. Eovaldi came in slinging, ending his outing by striking out Houston third baseman Alex Bregman on a 102 mph fastball. A scoreless ninth inning by closer Craig Kimbrel helped Boston win game five by a score of 4-1, allowing the Beantown bombers to punch their ticket to represent the AL in the 2018 World Series. Boston center fielder Bradley Jr. was rewarded for his amazing play in the championship series by earning ALCS MVP, finishing the series with a team high nine runs batted in. Boston is looking to win their fourth World Series in 18 years, facing off against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Two of the best teams in baseball gave us a series that will not soon be forgotten. Offensive firepower along with shut down pitching helped Boston put down the Astros with ease. Big performances by Bradley Jr. and Price, both of which have been on the receiving end of controversy lately due to their lackluster performance, allowed Boston to show us all, once again, why the boys from Beantown have as good a chance as any one to hoist the World Series trophy this year.