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Fake Sox Game 59: Avoiding the brooms

The offense comes through when needed and Boston avoids the sweep in Houston.

American League Championship Series Game 4: Boston Red Sox v. Houston Astros Photo by Loren Elliott/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The following simulation and images are courtesy of Out of the Park Baseball 21.

Our Fake Sox have been having a tough go of it in the second half of May, and that has included a pair of series against the Astros. Houston took two out of three last week, and they have won each of the first two games the two sides have played this weekend, with the Red Sox looking to avoid a sweep this afternoon. They had Collin McHugh on the mound in that quest with Bryan Abreu going for the Astros.

With the way this series had gone to this point, the Red Sox were looking for some early momentum on Sunday, and they did the job in the first inning. They caught a break to start the rally as Alex Verdugo reached with one out on an error from José Altuve. He’d then move to second on a single and then to third on another single, loading the bases for Xander Bogaerts with just one out. It looked like a disaster when Bogaerts hit a ground ball to third base, but Houston only got one out at second base, continuing the inning and getting Verdugo home to score. Jackie Bradley Jr. then started a big day with a base hit into right field to bring home another run, and it was a 2-0 lead for Boston after the top of the first.

McHugh then came out and tossed an easy, five-pitch 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the inning, letting the Red Sox get back to it in the second. This time they wasted little time, with Mitch Moreland leading the inning off with a walk. That brought José Peraza to the plate, and he had the big swing of the day for Boston. The second baseman smashed a two-run shot into the Crawford Boxes to give his team a 4-0 lead. Abreu got three straight outs after that, but the lead was in hand.

From there. McHugh had a couple more solid innings, allowing just a base hit in the second and working around two hits in the third. When he came out for the bottom of the fourth, it was still a 4-0 lead for his team, but the Astros got rolling here. After a one-pitch out to start the inning, the Astros got a double from Yuli Gurriel, then a walk, then another double to make it a 4-1 game and put a pair in scoring position with just one out. Oswaldo Arcia then came through with an RBI single of his own before Andrew Knizner made it a one-run game with a sacrifice fly. McHugh got out of it without any more damage, but this was a whole new game with a 4-3 score.

Fortunately, the Red Sox offense was up to the task of answering back against Houston for this game. Verdugo led off the top of the fifth with a walk and then J.D. Martinez followed it up with a single to put the first two men on. After a couple of fly outs it looked like the chance might be wasted, but Bradley came through again, ripping a single through the right side to bring Verdugo home. Unfortunately, the inning ended there as well as Martinez was thrown out trying to go first to third on the play. Still, it was a 5-3 lead now.

After McHugh came through and allowed just a single in each of the next two innings, the Red Sox came up to bat in the top of the seventh with the same 5-3 score and were looking for some insurance. Andrew Benintendi got things started the right way with a double, but just like in the fifth it looked like it might be wasted with a couple of outs after that. Once again, though, the Red Sox got a big two-out hit, this one from Rafael Devers. His RBI single made it a 6-3 game.

That turned out to be a big insurance run, too. McHugh came back out for the bottom of the seventh, facing the top of the Astros order for a fourth time. Altuve led things off with a walk, but McHugh came back with a big strikeout. That brought Alex Bregman to the plate, and McHugh got ahead 0-2. Bregman battled back to a 2-2 count, though, and then crushed one 416 feet to left field for a two-run shot, making it a 6-5 game and knocking McHugh out of the game. Brandon Workman came on next and got himself into some trouble by allowing back-to-back singles to start his outing, but he was able to work out of the jam and keep the lead in hand.

After the Red Sox wasted a chance in the eighth, Workman came back on for the bottom of the inning and got a strikeout before making way for Matt Barnes. It wasn’t the sharpest day for the righty, and it started with some bad luck as Knizner hit a little tapper to the left side to get on with an infield single. Barnes then gave up two very deep fly balls, but both were caught right in front of the wall to end the inning and keep the game at 6-5.

Boston’s offense came back out for the ninth, though, and added on a couple more runs. After Benintendi started this inning with another leadoff double, Martinez would eventually get one run in on a sacrifice fly and Devers brought home another with a double. That gave Boston an 8-5 lead for Ken Giles to try and close it out. The bad news is Bregman led off the bottom of the ninth with another home run to make it 8-6. The good news is Giles retired three straight after that one to finish off the victory.

The win pushed Boston’s record to 32-27. In even more good news, the Yankees dropped their sixth straight and seventh in their last eight, meaning the Red Sox are now back to within a half-game of the division. Around the league, the players of the weeks were named with Chad Pinder winning in the AL and Will Smith getting the honor in the NL. The Players of the Month, meanwhile, were as followed:

  • Hitter: AL - José Altuve; NL - Max Muncy
  • Pitcher: AL - Mike Clevinger; NL - Patrick Corbin
  • Rookie: AL - Luis Robert; NL - Gavin Lux

Down on the farm, meanwhile, the PawSox were shut out with just three hits in a loss, Portland was held to just four hits in a loss, Tyler Esplin was a triple short of the cycle in a loss for Salem, and Greenville’s bullpen gave up 12 runs in 3 13 innings in a loss.

With it being Sunday, you can see full stats for Red Sox players and full MLB standings at the bottom of the page.