Astros awaken for 7 in 9th, beat Boston 9-2 to tie ALCS 2-2
Published 12:58 am Wednesday, October 20, 2021
By Jimmy Golen
AP Sports Writer
BOSTON — Jose Altuve hit a tying home run in the eighth inning and the Houston offense awakened with seven runs in the ninth on Tuesday night as the Astros came back to beat the Boston Red Sox 9-2, evening the AL Championship Series at two games apiece.
Six outs from falling behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven series and facing a Game 5 in Fenway Park — where Boston hadn’t lost all postseason — the AL West champions instead guaranteed themselves at least one game back in Houston.
In a series that had been dominated by offense — especially Boston’s — the teams traded first-inning homers and then both pitching staffs put up six straight zeros on the Fenway scoreboard before Altuve’s leadoff shot in the eighth.
Carlos Correa doubled and scored the go-ahead run on Jason Castro’s two-out single in the ninth. But that was just the beginning for Houston, which had seen Boston bully its pitchers for 10 homers in the series, including a record-setting three grand slams that turned Games 2 and 3 into routs.
“That’s what they’ve been doing to us this whole series,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re capable of doing that as well.”
After Alex Bregman hit a solo homer into the Green Monster seats in the first, Xander Bogaerts topped it with a towering, two-run drive onto Lansdowne Street in the bottom half to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.
Then, the pitchers took over: It was still 2-1 when Altuve led off the eighth with a homer against Garrett Whitlock.
Game 2 winner Nathan Eovaldi, making his first relief appearance since he was coming back from an injury in 2019, came on for the ninth and gave up Correa’s leadoff double. With two outs and two on, Castro singled in Correa to give Houston the lead.
And the Astros just kept on scoring.
Michael Brantley hit a three-run double off Martín Pérez. Yordan Alvarez added an RBI single. Correa reached on a run-scoring infield single. Kyle Tucker singled in another run.
The Red Sox, who were the first team in major league history to have double digits in hits six straight times in a single postseason, had just five on Tuesday — two of them trailing by seven in the ninth.
Eovaldi took the loss, allowing four runs while recording just two outs. Kendall Graveman, the fifth Houston pitcher, threw two scoreless innings for the win.
Bogaerts followed Bregman’s 354-foot homer into the Green Monster seats in the top of the first with a 403-foot shot in the bottom half that cleared the Wall, the seats and the billboards above them before landing on Lansdowne Street.
Nick Pivetta allowed just one more hit after Bregman’s homer before leaving with a 2-1 lead through five innings.
It was the third straight game the Red Sox got five or more innings from a starter, and the third straight that the Houston starter didn’t make it out of the second inning; Zack Greinke got just four outs on Tuesday.
Pivetta was charged with one run on two hits and two walks, striking out three. He got Altuve to end the fifth on a hard grounder to Rafael Devers at third. First baseman Kyle Schwarber made a nice play to scoop the throw; replays showed he pulled his foot off the bag, but the Astros did not challenge the call.
Home run history
Altuve has 21 career postseason home runs, breaking a tie with Derek Jeter for third-most in baseball history. Manny Ramirez is the leader with 29, and Bernie Williams hit 22.
Coming in hot
Red Sox manager Alex Cora had to be pulled back by third base coach Carlos Febles after J.D. Martinez was called out on strikes for the second out of the third inning.
With Alex Verdugo stealing second on the 3-2 pitch, umpire Laz Diaz called Martinez out on a pitch that appeared to be off the plate. Martinez said a few words, then Cora came out of the dugout and Febles and on-deck hitter Christian Vázquez held him back.
Baker also came out, apparently to point out Martinez had interfered with catcher Martín Maldonado as he tried to throw out Verdugo. Diaz left Verdugo at second, and Hunter Renfroe struck out to end the inning.
Astros: CF Jake Meyers, who injured his left shoulder crashing into the wall in the Division Series clincher, was originally listed in the starting lineup but “wasn’t quite ready yet,” Baker said. Chas McCormick started in center instead.
Red Sox: Schwarber appeared to tweak his left hamstring on a swing in the fourth inning. He limped out a groundout and remained in the game.
Game 5 is Wednesday at 5:08 p.m. Chris Sale is in line to start for the Red Sox after allowing one run over 2 2/3 innings in Game 1. It is Framber Valdez’s turn again for Houston. He gave up two earned runs in 2 2/3 innings during the series opener.