Two games ago, the Red Sox defeated the Astros, 12-3, in Game 3 at Fenway Park, and it looked like this series was headed for a quick conclusion.
Houston’s pitching staff was a mess, with an injury to No. 1 starter Lance McCullers Jr. and a beleaguered bullpen that would have to continue through Game 4.
Things were so difficult for the Astros that our coverage of the Boston massacre on Monday night the next day featured two particularly grim stories for Houston. First, Can anyone stop the Red Sox? by Tom Verducci, delved into the Boston batting blitz. The second was Tuesday’s edition of this newsletter, with the email subject: Beatdown in Beantown.
So, of course, Jose Altuve hit a game-tying home run off Red Sox rookie reliever Garrett Whitlock to open the eighth inning, and then Nathan Eovaldi, Alex Cora’s original Rover, came out of the bullpen for the ninth. and allowed Jason Simple to drive Castro for the advantage. From there, the game turned into a win; Cora brought in Martín Pérez to keep things closed, and the mediocre southpaw did the exact opposite. Final score: 9-2.
Game 5’s lopsided score, 9-1, was a real blowout. Framber Valdez went back in time and silenced the Red Sox offense, which had cooled off after their postseason start.
Now the series is back in Houston, where the Astros need to win one of the next two games to return to the World Series for the third time in the past five seasons. No matter what you think of them for their cheating in 2017, their sustained streak of success is remarkable. That’s especially true considering this year is the first they’ve had to deal with the fallout fully. Their sign stealing scheme didn’t come to light until after they lost the 2019 World Series, and last year, there were no fans to give them the barrage of boos they deserved. We’ve already covered the mental gymnastics that comes with trying to work out our feelings regarding the 2021 Astros, so let’s not dwell on that here.
We knew ahead of time that this series would come down to hitting. Both lineups were two of the best in baseball this year, and neither pitcher was in good shape after the Division Series. What’s interesting is how much each team’s offensive production has changed since the start of Game 4.
Games 4 to 5
This series is by no means over just because Boston’s bats have gone cold, and Houston’s hitters are back at their best Bruce Lee. The main takeaway here is this: In the chaos of the postseason, everything can change in an instant. That could be a grand slam in the first inning, as was the case in Game 2, or it could be a great home run by the smallest of the players, as in Game 4. It could even be a call to the limit that absorbs all the impulse. of the dominant team and transfers it to the demoralized.
What will happen tonight is anyone’s guess. Nothing has been resolved yet.
Do you have a question for our team? Send a note to [email protected].
1. THE OPENER
“The first was a miracle. The second was a relief. The third was inevitable. “
That’s Stephanie Apstein, summing up Chris Taylor’s three home runs in her column from last night’s game at Dodger Stadium. Taylor’s heroics helped the Dodgers achieve a great victory in Game 5. Now, Los Angeles’ challenge will be to string together, for the first time this postseason, a second straight offensive game in a row.
Read Stephanie’s full column here.
How bad were things looking for Los Angeles before Game 5? Here is a summary of your NLCS problems.
Dodgers bats leave little hope for another awakening by Stephanie Apstein
Los Angeles was at a 3-1 hole against the Braves in the National League Championship Series for the second year in a row. His offense did not look to the task for a comeback.
Need to catch up on the ALCS action before Game 6 tonight? We have you covered.
Framber Valdez sinks push Boston to the limit by Tom Verducci
By pitching so long and so well, the Houston southpaw evoked the greatness of Bob Gibson in the 1967 World Series. This significant setback in time put the Astros up 3-2 in the American League Championship Series.
Red Sox rookie Garrett Whitlock emerges as blocking reliever for Emma Baccellieri
Boston selected him in the Yankees’ Rule 5 draft before the season. Now, it has helped stabilize the bullpen.
Hitting zone is not the problem by Matt Martell
The exciting finale to Game 4 between the Astros and Red Sox was overshadowed by a call to the limit.
3. WORTH NOTING by Stephanie Apstein
Stop if you’ve heard this before: Atlanta wins NLCS Games 1 and 2, Dodgers take Game 3, Atlanta takes Game 4 to go 3-1, Dodgers snatch Game 5 to force Game 6. Atlanta players are tired of hearing that this year will be like last year, when they let the series slip away. But they understand that only they can make people stop talking about it.
“It’s going to be the narrative, apparently, because every day is mentioned in the last two days,” said Freddie Freeman. “So I don’t think we have a choice until we kill that narrative. We go up 3 or 2 and go home. That’s a great position to be in. “
4. WHAT TO EXPECT from Emma Baccellieri
The only game today is the Astros’ attempt to advance to the World Series and send the Red Sox home. With Houston leading 3-2 in the series, Game 6 begins at 8:08 pm ET on FS1.
Luis Garcia will be on the mound for the Astros. If the Red Sox are to stay alive, their bats will have to be much, much more active than they have been in the last two games, when they are only 8 of 61. But another big question for Boston is what we will see from starter Nathan. Eovaldi. His last two outings have deviated somewhat from his reputation as a blocking force in October: In Game 2, as he clinched the win and held Houston to three runs in 5 ⅓ innings, he lacked his typical swing-and-miss. . The Astros were always able to get their fastball into play. It meant Eovaldi finished the night with just three strikeouts; In each of his two previous starts this postseason, in the wild-card game and in the ALDS, he had eight. And in a relief appearance in Game 4, which came in the ninth inning of a tied game, he gave up the lead and was pulled with two men in play and two out. (They both went on to dial). It’s been three days (though only two days off) since that last appearance, in which Eovaldi threw 24 pitches, which in theory is enough rest for the team to feel confident about his outing tonight. It also helps that its deep arsenal allows you to make adjustments that can make one of your outputs look markedly different than the next. But if Houston has really gotten a better handle on hitting him, which it looks like it could be, Boston could be in trouble.
5. THE CLOSER by Emma Baccellieri
The loss of Joe Kelly (clearly!) Didn’t affect the Dodgers’ ability to win last night. But it could do so in the future. He’s been a key part of this bullpen, and for a team that has already been hit by pitching injuries, every additional loss hurts. (Kelly was picked up in the first inning of last night’s bullpen game with a bicep strain.) Manager Dave Roberts said last night that the most likely replacement on the roster is David Price: The veteran worked as a swingman this season before being moved permanently to the bullpen. in late August, but he has yet to appear in the playoffs this year, despite being on the NLDS roster. There are still many reliable options in this relief corps. But for a team facing elimination, with no margin for error, this still hurts.
That’s all of us today. We will return to your inbox tomorrow. In the meantime, share this newsletter with your friends and family, and tell them to sign up for SI.com/newsletters. If you have any questions or comments, please email us at [email protected].
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.