HOUSTON – The Red Sox are down 3-2 in the American League Championship Series against the Astros, just two days after being singled out by nearly everyone as a team that was “walking” toward the Young Circuit title at win Game 3 of the series and look unstoppable at bat.
But, we all know what happened since the eighth inning of Game 4, when Boston was leading 2-1 and seemed about to put Houston in check. Venezuelan José Altuve tied the actions with a home run and in the ninth inning, the Siderales scored seven times to tie the series.
Since that eighth inning on Tuesday, the Astros have edged the Red Sox 17-1 on aggregate and are now on the verge of a win to eliminate the Patirrojos and move on to their third World Series in five years, with Game 6. scheduled for Friday at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
So what does Boston have to do to react and regain momentum in this series?
When the Red Sox eliminated the Rays in the Division Series and took a 2-1 lead in the SCLA, they were on a six-game streak with 10 or more hits. But since Game 4, each of his three runs has been the product of home runs. In fact, eight of his last nine touchdowns have been on homers.
Boston has hit a franchise-record 22 home runs this postseason, but relying almost exclusively on the home run is not a formula for success – not even in the modern age of sabermetrics.
“You have to give them credit,” said Patirrojos slugger JD Martinez, referring to the Astros pitching. “They have been pitching very, very well.”
It’s true. Framber Valdez dominated the Boston bats at will on Wednesday in Game 5, becoming the first starter to complete 8.0 innings this postseason. But since Game 4, Houston’s relief has also tamed the Red Sox’s strong offense, with 9.2 zeros between Game 4 and Game 5.
“I don’t see it as a slump,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about it. “They are two games. It’s a series, but offensively, we’ve looked very good all month ”.
“I’m not going to doubt our offense,” Martinez added. “You have seen what we have been able to do.”
THE RELAY WILL HAVE TO COMPLY
Given the pattern of short starts by starting pitchers in this series and in the playoffs in general, each team’s bullpen has become more important than ever. While the Astros relief has served the last two games, the Red Sox has failed big.
When Boston won five of six games to eliminate the Rays and take a 2-1 lead over the Astros, their bullpen allowed 11 runs in 31 innings. Since Game 4 of the SCLA, the Patirrojos relief has been penalized with 13 runs in 12.2 innings. That’s not going to work, especially with October baseball today.
“We have to hit the pitches, make the routine plays and get the outs,” said Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez.
For the outs to come without the thunder we’ve seen from the Astros since Tuesday, figures like Garrett Whitlock, Tanner Houck, Josh Taylor and Adam Ottavino will have to come forward – and maybe starters like Nick Pivetta and Chris Sale coming out of the bullpen. . It will be difficult to trust figures like Ryan Brasier, Dominican Hansel Robles, Venezuelan Martín Pérez, his compatriot Darwinzon Hernández and Japan’s Hirokazu Saramura.
THE RESISTANCE OF 2021 WILL HAVE TO LEAVE
With the format 2-3-2 of the postseason series to the best of seven, the team that won Game 5 en route to go up 3-2, as is the case of the Astros, has finished eliminating at home to his opponents 18 out of 23 times (78%). That’s what Houston intends to do now.
For his part, Cora has highlighted the resistance of this edition of the Red Sox on many occasions, pointing to the sweep that the team suffered at the hands of the Rays to open the season at home. From there, they went on to win nine in a row and topped the AL East for much of the next four months.
Then the Rays’ strong rise and an outbreak of COVID-19, among other things, knocked Boston out of first place, which had to fight until the last inning of the last regular-season game to qualify for the Wild Card Game.
Now that magic is needed.
“It is not the first time that we are in this situation, a game to win yes or yes,” said Cora. “We did it in 162 and in the Wild Card Game. We learned a lot during the season ”.
Falling in the last two games, Cora’s teams in the postseason since 2018 were beaten in back-to-back games for the first time. Now his troop is in uncharted waters in that regard.
“Obviously, it’s very different, because if we don’t win the next game, the season is over,” said the foreman. “But nothing is going to change. We will see some things and be ready for the next one.
“We are going to play two games in Houston, it is a fact,” continued Cora, who will go with Nathan Eovaldi on the mound. “We do not give up.”
Vázquez added: “They have a good team, but I see my team well.”