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Scattered Thoughts from a Game 3 victory

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The Red Sox are up 2-1 in the ALCS

League Championship Series - Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the ALCS on Wednesday, regaining home field and guaranteeing that the series will at least get back to Fenway even in the worst-case scenario. Though the final score was fairly lopsided, this was actually an extremely tense game most of the way through until Boston broke through in the eighth inning. Overall, it was a strong performance and exactly what the Red Sox were looking for Houston. It wasn’t perfect, but the good certainly outweighed the bad. Here are some scattered thoughts on the Game Three victory.

  • We have to start with Nathan Eovaldi, who has been absolutely incredible in his two postseason starts. He wasn’t quite as sharp in this game as he was in New York when he allowed just one run over seven innings against the Yankees, but it wasn’t far off. While his command was impeccable on all of his pitches in that outing, he worked with slightly reduced command this time around. Eovaldi’s cutter actually wasn’t great in this game. The movement and velocity were there, and he made some hitters look stupid with it, but he was missing a lot of spots. Instead, he turned to his loopy slider and that pitch was money. He was regularly shifting back-and-forth between his triple-digits fastball and mid-80s slider, and the Astros were off-balance all night. There was some inefficiency at times for Eovaldi, and it can get frustrating when he fails to miss bats. At the end of the day, though, he gave six strong innings and turned the lineup over three times. You can’t ask for much more than that.
  • Sticking with Eovaldi, I saw a lot of people turn to next year with the righty and wonder what happens. He is, of course, a free agent after the season and it seems as though he’s earning himself a lot of money with his recent performance. I haven’t put enough thought into the offseason to have a strong opinion on this, though riding the high of this performance I’d obviously love to have him back at the right price. All I will say is this: Regardless of how Jalen Beeks pitches in the future (and I’m a big Beeks fan), if Eovaldi has a few more starts like this in October the Red Sox will clearly have won the trade. (To be fair, that doesn’t preclude the Rays from also winning their side.)
League Championship Series - Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
  • Jackie Bradley Jr., ladies and gentlemen. The last couple of games have acted as redemption for those who fought against the JBJ haters (for lack of a better term, because I hate unironically using that word) all year. There have obviously been low moments for the Red Sox center fielder, and it got incredibly frustrating at times. There were points where a loud minority wanted him traded to get a better bat in the outfield, but the Red Sox were never going to go that route. Not mid-year at least. That’s paid off. In Game Two, Bradley had the huge bases-clearing double to give Boston the lead. On Tuesday, he crushed a grand slam to put the game away. Bradley’s here for his glove, but he’s got some magic in that bat from time to time.
  • Before the Bradley grand slam, the biggest swing of the night for the Red Sox came from Steve Pearce in the fifth. It was an absolute blast, traveling 456 feet and was the longest home run in Red Sox postseason history in the Statcast era, which is only since 2015. Still, it was a monster shot. It was also particularly satisfying that it came from Pearce, who was the lone Red Sox player or coach to really acknowledge Alex Bregman’s Instagram post.
  • Speaking of Pearce, for as clutch as he’s come through at the plate it’s his defense that has been particularly impressive to me. He’s never been known for his glove at first base, and in fact has been taken out in favor of defensive replacements during the regular season. He’s been huge during this postseason, though, and in particular with his stretches. On multiple occasions he’s stolen outs on bad throws from his infielders with bananas stretches. I need to hit up his yoga studio.
  • The Red Sox middle relief continues to look great for Boston this month. Matt Barnes and Joe Kelly combined for a scoreless eighth and Eduardo Rodriguez tossed a 1-2-3 ninth, but it was Ryan Brasier who really stepped up in this game. The righty came into what was a one-run game at the time in the seventh inning, facing the middle of Houston’s order. After allowing a bunt single to Jose Altuve and then a passed ball, Bregman had a 2-0 count with a runner in scoring position with two outs. Rather than walk the Astros star as Boston has done all series (and as I wanted them to do), Brasier went right after him and got a weak fly ball out to center field to end the inning unscathed. It was a big-time performance, and he’s come a long way from his Game One of the ALDS performance.
League Championship Series - Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
  • The two players catching the most ire from Red Sox fans this postseason, at least on the position player side of things, have been Eduardo Núñez and Ian Kinsler. The two veterans have struggled mightily, and most do not want them starting anymore. I am among them. Kinsler in particular looks completely washed, and I don’t know how he starts against anyone right now. Even with the lefty on the mound — and he faced two different southpaws in this game — he couldn’t get going. Brock Holt needs to start at second until further notice. Third is slightly more complicated because Núñez is a slightly better bat than Kinsler and neither him nor Rafael Devers provides great defense at third base. Both had costly plays defensively, though Núñez did make some good plays too. However, Devers had a huge single in that eighth-inning rally that served as a good example of why he’s the preferable choice. The offensive upside is just too high.
  • Sandy León has now pinch run in two consecutive games. I don’t have much to say on this beyond that this is the world in which we live.
League Championship Series - Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
  • I’m really glad the Red Sox won this game, and beyond the obvious reasons it’s so we don’t have to talk about Tony Kemp’s catch. The more angles and video I see, I am starting to come around that maybe (probably?) it wasn’t a catch but mostly I’m annoyed at how disrespected people feel. There was no way that was ever going to get overturned and I’m just really glad we don’t have to waste energy getting up-in-arms about it. Even if it did hit the wall, it’s not fair to say the Red Sox got “robbed” because it took ultra-zoomed-in slo-mo video that needed to be watched 100 times to see it.
  • There is obviously a very big story going around about the Astros cheating and sending someone to away parks to take illegal video of game action. The Indians reportedly warned the Red Sox about the man, and sure enough he was seen at Fenway. Depending on who you listen to, this is anything from a huge deal to nothing really to think about. So, for now I’ll just keep my eye out for more but I’m not thinking too much of it until it becomes clear I have to. These stories are always annoying. Just let me enjoy the baseball, ya know?