After a tough loss on Friday to start off the the ALCS, but the goal heading into these first two games was just to get one. Heading back to Fenway with a 1-1 series tie would put them in a good position to take this series and get home field back in their hands. They quickly took care of business on that front, hitting a grand slam in each of their first two innings to take an early 8-0 lead. From there, it was just up to Nathan Eovaldi and company to not let Houston have an offensive explosion of their own. Things got mildly stressful at times in the middle, but for the most part the Red Sox were able to cruise to a 9-3 win and tied up the series as was hoped.
The Red Sox had a bit of a frustrating Friday night, entering as an underdog but having a real chance to steal a game on the road to start the ALCS. They didn’t make good on that chance, with Houston’s bullpen out-pitching their Boston counterparts, and the Red Sox needed to take Saturday’s game to get their split heading back home to Fenway. The good news on that front is that they had their ace on the mound in Nathan Eovaldi, and even better was that their offense very much came to play against Houston starter Luis Garcia.
After the loss on Friday, they were looking for some early momentum, and more importantly not giving the Astros a chance to pick up where they left off the night before. Kyle Schwarber made sure he did what he could out of the leadoff spot, starting off the game with a double. A couple batters later Rafael Devers drew a walk, and Alex Verdugo would do the same with two outs to keep the inning alive for J.D. Martinez.
Martinez has been dealing with a hurt ankle throughout this postseason run, but we’ve seen time and again that he’s still able to impact the ball when he gets one to hit. He got one to hit against Garcia with the bases loaded. On a 1-0 pitch, Martinez got a fastball belt-high on the outer half, and he went the other way with it for a grand slam, giving Boston the early 4-0 lead.
They’d keep that momentum going in the second, this time with Kevin Plawecki leading off the inning with a walk. Garcia started to feel some discomfort in his knee after that walk and left the game, bringing Jake Odorizzi into the game. After a lengthy delay to get things back going, the Red Sox again loaded the bases, this time with one out. Rafael Devers stepped to the plate looking to do the same, and he got a cutter middle-in. He was able to keep the ball fair and gave Boston their second grand slam in as many innings, and the Red Sox were sitting pretty with an 8-0 lead.
They would add one more in the fourth when Kiké Hernández hit his obligatory home run for the night, and that just left things up to the pitching. Houston’s offense is always good for an explosion or two, so the Red Sox just needed Eovaldi to keep them in check. He was up to the challenge, especially early on. He allowed a two-out single to Alex Bregman in the third, but that was the only runner he allowed in the first three innings.
In the fourth, though, Houston started to show a little bit of and make sure this game wasn’t too stress-free for the Red Sox. Eovaldi did get two quick outs to start things off, but then the inning was kept alive with a Yordan Alvarez walk, and Carlos Correa followed it up with a single on the very next pitch. With two men on, Kyle Tucker brought two home with a double rocketed off the wall in left field, and Yuli Gurriel followed it up with a two-run single, and Houston was back to within six.
But that was the only push against the Red Sox ace, with Eovaldi getting a strikeout to end that inning and retiring three in a row in the fifth. He’d get an out to start the sixth before being pulled after an Alvarez single, ultimately going 5 1⁄3 innings with just the three runs on the board. It was up to Adam Ottavino to keep things that way, and while he did give up a single and a stolen base to put a pair in scoring position, he was able to induce a big ground ball from Yuli Gurriel to end the inning with the six-run lead still intact.
Alex Cora really wanted to do what he could to make sure Houston didn’t mount any comeback, bringing Garrett Whitlock in for the seventh. He made a mistake in walking the nine hitter in that inning, but that was all he gave up in the scoreless inning. The rookie also came out for a perfect eighth.
That just left things up to Darwinzon Hernandez in the ninth. The southpaw was only able to record a couple of outs, allowing two solo homers in the process as well. Ryan Brasier was tasked with completing the game, and he did so without any delay to finally end the game. The 9-5 win tied up the series at one game apiece.
The Red Sox and Astros now have a day off before resuming this series back in Houston on Monday. First pitch is set for 8:07 PM ET.