- A tight game came undone in the eighth inning when the Red Sox dropped five runs on the Astros, four via Jackie Bradley Jr.'s two-out grand slam, and lurched out to a 2-1 ALCS lead.
The ALCS hit the road tied at one game apiece. The Astros stole a win at Fenway in Game 1, and the Red Sox returned the favor Tuesday night in Houston. Game 3 was evenly matched early on: Houston’s Dallas Keuchel allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in five innings, and Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi allowed the same on six hits and two walks in six. The Astros’ bullpen couldn’t hold it, though. In the sixth inning, Joe Smith allowed a solo homer to Steve Pearce, and in the eighth, Roberto Osuna broke down entirely. Here are three thoughts on Boston’s 8-2 win:
Had José Altuve been fully healthy, Tony Kemp probably wouldn’t have been out in left field for Game 3. But Altuve, who’s nursing a knee injury, was limited to serving as tonight’s DH, meaning that Marwin González had to shift from leftfield to second base. So Kemp filled in for González at left, which worked out just beautifully:
Kemp’s listed at 5’6”, but he can bring some hops. His gem came in the top of the third, with two men on and two out. The catch was the difference Houston trailing by one and trailing by at least two, if not almost certainly by three. But if you think that the ball may have clanged off the wall before landing in his glove, well, you’re not alone—Boston challenged the catch, to no avail. A slow-motion replay later invited some frame-by-frame analysis worthy of the Zapruder Film.
You can see it… kind of. In any event, if it grazed the wall, it didn’t do so definitively enough or for long enough to merit a reversal of the call.
ALERT: MELTDOWN IN PROGRESS
The Red Sox entered the eighth inning up by one run, facing down Houston closer Roberto Osuna on the mound. The star reliever—acquired at the deadline, while still serving a suspension for breaking the league’s domestic violence policy—got J.D. Martinez to fly out on one pitch for the first out of the inning. Then he began to fall apart.
Osuna allowed a single to Xander Bogaerts, who was later recorded out at second on a fielder's choice. That left one runner on with two outs, but miles to go for the reliever. He gave up a single to Rafael Devers. He hit Brock Holt with a slider. He forced home a run by beaning Mitch Moreland with the bases loaded. Next up was Jackie Bradley, Jr., who turned a high fastball into a complete nightmare for Osuna and the Astros:
This was the first appearance of the series for Osuna, but he’d struggled in the regular season against the Red Sox. Of teams that he saw twice or more, none hit him better than Boston—6-for-13, with three runs, in three games. Does that small sample necessarily mean much? No. But it sure doesn’t look good when paired with a performance like Game 3’s.
WALK IT OUT, ALEX
Okay, yes, this series has been nearly oversaturated with fun facts about the on-base prowess of Alex Bregman. But he deserves them! Entering Game 3, Bregman had put together a phenomenal series at the plate—despite the fact that he hadn’t notched a hit. In 10 plate appearances, he’d gotten on base seven times, on six walks and one hit-by-pitch. On Tuesday, he shook things up and finally reached on some contact. He singled with one man on and one out in the first inning, part of a rally that scored a run. He came up even bigger in the fifth, with a double that tied the game by bringing home José Altuve. And, of course, he drew a walk, too.
Tie these numbers in with his stellar ALDS, and you’re looking at what could be a historic October. He’s 7-for-15, with 11 walks, and four of those hits were for extra bases. That’s a 1.714 OPS—or, put another way, just a tad under his 2018 OPS plus his 2017 OPS.