Astros Take ALCS Lead When Sox Let Crucial Opportunities Slip Through

October 15-ALCS GAME 1

Valdez pitches for Houston against Sale as these two teams meet in the series that will decide the AL pennant. The Sox load the bases with two out in the top of the first before a pop out ends the inning. I guess the Sox didn’t get the memo that it was imperative that they score as quickly as possible. The Astros counter by putting two on with one out in their half of the frame, and a wild pitch puts both men in scoring position before Correa scores on a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0. The Sox are lucky that’s all they allow for the frame. The Astros put two on with one out in the bottom of the second. Maldonado is hit to load the bases, but they come away with nothing, thanks to a strikeout and a Superman-style catch from Hernández. He follows that up with a game-tying homer to left-center to start the third, and it’s 1-1. Boston puts two on with one out later, and Bogaerts scores on a fielding error by Altuve that results in Houston’s missing a double play opportunity and Boston’s taking a 2-1 lead. Devers scores on Renfroe’s double down the left-field line to make it 3-1. Valdez only lasts one more batter. A strikeout ends the inning. Trying to keep pace, the Astros put two on with one out in their half of the third. After a strikeout, Cora decides to end Sale’s evening. Against an offense as potent as Houston’s, giving up one earned run on five hits in 2 2/3 innings is fantastic. Ottavino induces a groundout to end the inning. With one out in the top of the fourth, Hernández hits a double to left, but the Sox strand their sixth man in scoring position so far. These two teams have combined to go 1-12 with men in scoring position. This should be a very different game. It’s definitely been a very long one. It’s taken two hours to get through the first four innings!

The Astros put two on with two out in the bottom of the fifth, but Brasier gets the go-ahead run to fly out and end the inning as Kiké Hernández contorts his body and arches his back to make the play. A runner is at second with one out in the top of the sixth as the Sox look to get insurance. He moves to third on a groundout before a strikeout strands him. That proves costly when Altuve hits a game-tying homer to left with a runner at first and two out in the bottom of the inning. It’s 3-3. He ties Derek Jeter for third-most career playoff homers with 20. With two out in the bottom of the seventh, a Correa blast to left puts Houston up 4-3. The Astros load the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the eighth as they look to put this game out of reach. Gurriel scores on a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3. Sawamura is pulled. A double play ends the inning and keeps things close going into the ninth, where Hernández hits his second home run of the night to left to lead things off and make it 5-4. That’s as close as the Sox get, with the Astros hanging on to end Game 1.