Thursday, December 2

Astros-Red Sox ALCS Game 1 to go: Kike ‘Hernandez keeps rolling, Houston midfielder holds firm



If there is ever a game in a league championship series that can be counted on to be low scoring, it is Game 1. The two teams generally deliver the ball to their best arms, hoping to shut down the bats. rivals to take the lead. in the series.

But the Red Sox and Astros gave a hint early Friday that their ALCS will be high-scoring. Each of the two powerful offenses racked up a double-digit hit total, and only by going a 1-for-16 combo with runners in scoring position and leaving 18 runners on base were they able to keep the score at 5-4, with the Astros prevailing.

Astros pitchers settled down after allowing three runs in the top of the third, and José Altuve and Carlos Correa delivered key shots in the sixth and seventh innings to lead Houston to a Game 1 victory.

There was a lot to take in during the first game of the series. Here are three takeaways.

MORE: 2021 MLB Postseason Schedule

Kiké Hernandez continues to dominate

Hernandez made his mark on the ALDS against the Rays when he helped spark a 14-6 win in Game 2 with a five-hit performance. He homered, hit three doubles, drove in three runs and scored three times. He finished the hot series with an absurd bar line of .450 / .429 / .900.

It showed no signs of slowing down on Friday.

Hernandez led off the game with an overhead single from Correa, hit a game-tying solo home run at the top of the third, threw a left double in the top of the fourth, and hit a home run again at the top of the fourth. top of the ninth for one. last gasp from the Red Sox.

His OPS in the American League Championship Series after Game 1 is 3,000. Yes, that will play.

This is not just a tear that players have during the postseason. According to StatheadHernandez’s 13 hits in four ALDS games and one ALCS game are tied for the most of any player in MLB history in a five-game span of the live ball era, and joins Albert Pujols, George Brett and Robin Yount as the only players in MLB history with multiple four-hitters in their postseason careers.

MLB’s Sarah Langs has more on her impressive streak.

José Altuve, Carlos Correa continue to be the spark of Houston

It’s safe to say the Astros would be a long way from where they are now without Altuve and Correa.

Altuve has been with the team since the Middle Ages, his first two full seasons in the majors, Houston lost 107 and 111 games in back-to-back seasons, but it was clear he was going to be a spark for the franchise on the move. forward. Correa was considered the turning point in the reconstruction; In their rookie campaign in 2015, the Astros made the playoffs for the first time since losing the World Series in 2005.

Now, in the depths of his tenure with the Astros, and perhaps Correa’s last run with the club, the two are still on the mend.

MORE: La Russa Says Astros Have ‘Character Problem’

Altuve scored Houston’s first run on a sacrifice fly in the first inning. He coughed up an error at a key moment that led Boston to take the lead in the third, but made up for it with a two-run homer, no doubt, to tie the game 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth.

And then Correa hit a towering shot to left field in the seventh to give Houston a 4-3 lead. Altuve hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth that turned out to be critical; it gave Houston a two-run lead, enough to survive Hernandez’s home run in the ninth.

These players have proven time and again that they will not have stage fright in the limelight. Altuve’s home run put him ahead of Albert Pujols and George Springer on the all-time postseason home run list with his 20th, good for a tie with Derek Jeter for third-highest all-time. His two runs scored took him past Chipper Jones to fifth all-time with 60 in the playoffs. His 2.2 postseason win probability ranks 10th all-time.

Correa has been just as important. His 2.6 WPA career places him fifth of all time. His home run took him past Pujols to fifth all-time with 55 postseason RBIs and tied Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle and Nelson Cruz for the seventh most homers at 18.

These two are making their sixth postseason trip together and delivering more excitement to Houston fans. They also showed in Game 1 that, as far as Boston’s pitching goes, they will be the two bats to beat in this series.

Chris Sale goes back to work

Sale has been one of the league’s best pitchers throughout his career, and that remained true towards the end of the 2021 regular season as he returned from Tommy John’s surgery that cost him the 2020 season and most of it. from last season.

But he hasn’t been himself in the playoffs.

In his first postseason start, he lasted just one inning and allowed five runs, four in a grand slam, four hits and one walk with two strikeouts against the Rays.

It wasn’t much better for him on Friday. Sale was eliminated in the third inning with runners on first and second and two outs. Reliever Adam Ottavino rescued him by recording the last out of the inning to hold Boston’s 3-1 lead.

MORE: How The Sox’s Alex Cora Was Involved In The Astros’ Sign Stealing Scandal

Sale again had no trouble walking (just one free pass), but allowed five hits and struck out just two to complete the only run allowed. Five balls hit against him were considered “hard hits” (muzzle velocity of 95 mph or more), according to Baseball Savant.

Part of his problems stem from his mixing of tone. Sale has never had a dominant change, but he has been especially bad this season. Hitters hit .667 against pitching during the regular season, and he nearly eliminated it from his repertoire in the first two postseason games after pitching it over 20 percent during the regular season and nearly that percentage in his career. He used it once against the Rays and only four times against the Astros.

The result is that hitters have gotten better at anticipating what he will throw next. While his sliding odor rate was 33 percent against Houston, just keeping pace with his 32 percent clip from the regular season, hitters were empty on fastball only 16 percent of the time, well below 27.5 percent of the regular season. according to Baseball Savant.

Even with his slider, he wasn’t getting the kinds of chases outside of the zone that he’s normally used to. Sale has predominantly focused on that downward pitch and toward right-handed hitters, away from left-handers, and found his place with it. But of the 13 sliders out of the zone on Friday, only two were sniffed, while two were put into play for hits.

If he’s going to be the ace of the Sox again, he’ll need to recapture his deception.




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