A series that seemed so desperately lopsided at first finally got interesting, but in the end the Red Sox could not do enough to stave off elimination at the hands of the Astros. Boston held a lead from the sixth inning of Game 4 of the ALDS until the eighth, but an Alex Bregman home run tied the game and a Josh Reddick RBI single won it. Even some theatrics at the end could not prevent Houston from taking the game 5–4 and the series 3–1. It’s on to the winner of Cleveland–New York for the Astros.
1. What a Relief!
Today was a tale of two aces as Red Sox manager John Farrell called on Chris Sale to begin the fourth inning after starter Rick Porcello faltered … and then, a few minutes later, Astros manager A.J. Hinch did the same with Justin Verlander. Starters have struggled this postseason—across the 13 playoff games thus far, they have averaged 4 innings pitched and an ERA of 5.61—and teams have been forced to deploy their bullpens creatively to plug the gaps. In some cases that has included bringing in other starters on their days off to work in super-relief roles. That’s what happened today, with mixed results: Sale allowed two runs—including the tying and go-ahead scores—and struck out six in 4 2/3 innings. Verlander allowed what at the time was a go-ahead home run, but recovered to go 2 2/3 otherwise scoreless frames.
2. Gu Get 'Em
After a successful first few games, Astros first baseman Yuliesky Gurriel continued to impress on Monday. He got off to a slow start in 2016, but had an OPS+ of 124 in the regular season this year and has only gotten hotter. He hit .529 in the series and went 3-for-5 today; baseballs off his bat seemed to skitter away from Boston gloves, as happened in the sixth, when a grounder got by Devers for two bases. A 33-year-old from Cuba who defected in February 2016 along with his brother, Gurriel was regarded as the best player on the island for years. The general feeling when he and Lourdes, now 23 and in the Blue Jays’ system, came over was that Lourdes had the brighter future ahead of him, but so far Yuli has done everything the Astros could have hoped for when they gave him $47.5 million over five years last July.
3. Benintending to Do That
This had been a rough series for the Red Sox’ young guns. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, who turned 25 this month, was hitless entering the day. Leftfielder Andrew Benintendi, 23, was 2-for-12. Even 20-year-old third baseman Rafael Devers, who jump-started the team when he was called up in July and jump-started them again yesterday with a third-inning home run that gave them their first lead of the series, looked—in Hinch’s words—excitable. Today all three looked good: Bogaerts hit a home run in the first inning and walked in the fifth, Benintendi hit what at the time was the go-ahead home run in the fifth and Devers was 2-for-4 with a walk and a ninth-inning inside-the-park home run to put them game within one. In the end it just wasn’t enough.