- The Red Sox brushed off another so-so outing from David Price and secured a crucial Game 2 win by attacking Astros starter Gerrit Cole. Boston tacked five runs (four earned) on Cole en route to a 7-4 win.
BOSTON — The Red Sox entered Game 2 having lost their home-field advantage and in danger of heading to Houston down 2–0. Instead starter David Price kept the game close, and a resurgent Boston offense—highlighted by likely AL MVP Mookie Betts’s two-double night—took down the defending champs. Here are three thoughts on Boston’s 7–5 win.
The Red Sox hadn’t even swapped their jerseys for ALDS CHAMPIONS T-shirts last Tuesday when manager Alex Cora told Price that he would start Game 2 of the ALCS. “That was special,” Price said before Game 1. But given his history as a starter in the postseason—10 starts, nine losses, a 6.03 ERA, most recently a five-out performance against the Yankees—a reporter still checked with Cora after Boston lost Game 1: “Down one at home obviously increases the pressure on tomorrow’s game. David 100% still your starter?” “Yes,” Cora said. Next question.
Price’s outing wasn’t exactly the October gem for which he has been searching, but he kept his team in the game. He allowed four runs through 4 2/3 innings—his best playoff start in a Red Sox uniform. He threw 80 pitches, 50 of them strikes, and avoided the big inning that has so often dogged him. The team insisted that he had made easily fixable mistakes against New York and that he would rebound, and he largely did. The lefthander relied heavily on his cutter and four-seamer at first, occasionally mixing in a two-seamer, then added his changeup in the fourth. Against the Yankees he had overthrown the cutter, sacrificing some control for an extra three miles per hour of velocity, and paid for the mistake; on Sunday it was back around 88 and back to the weapon it normally is. The Fenway crowd showered him with a standing ovation as he departed with two outs in the fifth inning.
Perhaps the fans realized that the mediocre stat line was deceiving: Price’s infield defense probably cost him two runs in the second, when shortstop Xander Bogaerts took his time on a Carlos Correa groundball that became an infield hit instead of the second out of the inning. Martin Maldonado doubled Correa over to third, then first baseman Steve Pearce dove for a George Springer liner well to his left. In the time it took Betts to get to the ball, both runs scored. (Price was fully responsible for Marwin González’s two-run homer the next inning, though.)
YOU MAR-WIN SOME
It was a checkered night for Astros leftfielder González and the Green Monster. Things started off well for the pair; González blasted a two-run shot off the National sign above the wall to give Houston the lead in the third inning. But one frame later, González crashed into the out-of-town scoreboard attempting to make a play on a Pearce double. He missed the ball and instead clanged his head against the metal. He crumpled to the ground, but got up after a few minutes and shooed away the gathered trainers and coaches. Three batters later, with the bases loaded, Jackie Bradley Jr. roped a 98-mph fastball off the Monster. The ball skidded off the wall, onto the ground, then up onto the wall that traces the third baseline, bouncing twice along the padding as all three runs came across to score and put the Red Sox ahead.
Houston third baseman Alex Bregman complained during the ALDS against the Indians that his team had been relegated to the daytime slots while the Red Sox and Yankees got to play in the evenings. Primetime seems to agree with him: He doesn’t have a hit yet in the series, but he’s reached base at a .700 clip in two games after six walks and a hit by pitch. That gives him an absurd .417/.708/1.000 slash line this postseason, good for a preposterous 1.708 OPS. (We pause here in memory of 2004, when Barry Bonds slashed .362/.609/.812—yes, that’s 1.422—for the season.) Bregman has walked 10 times in his five playoff games this year. Mariners centerfielder Dee Gordon walked nine times all season. Bregman has also made several outstanding defensive plays at third base. Houston ace Justin Verlander used his post–Game 1 press conference to highlight Bregman: “He was a vacuum cleaner over there.” If the Astros win the series, it will likely have a lot to do with their third baseman.