ALCS Recap, Friday 10/15

Correa & Altuve push Astros past Red Sox in Game 1 at Minute Maid Park

The American League Championship Series got off to a tense and tangled start as the Houston Astros hosted the Boston Red Sox at Minute Maid Park, a fortress for the home team in recent memory when it comes to the postseason. Chris Sale started the game for the visiting Red Sox up against crafty lefty Framber Valdez of the Astros. The scene was set and two nervous fan bases prepared to go through all the ups and downs of postseason baseball knowing that this one was for a seat in the big show.

The Astros starting lineup with a modern feel.

 

The Red Sox starting lineup with a classic feel.

 

The game went right down to the wire, so let’s catch you up on all the action from under the Friday Night Lights in Texas.

 

Astros 5, Red Sox 4

 

After a messy top of the first from Framber Valdez, who allowed four baserunners before escaping without the Red Sox hitting the scoreboard thanks to a flyout from Hunter Renfroe, Chris Sale got himself into a jam in the bottom of the inning after a wild pitch that put runners on second and third with one out.

A sacrifice fly from Yordan Alvarez put the Astros ahead early doors. Jose Altuve tagging from third base to start his night off in the right way.

 

It was a better second inning from Valdez, who earned his first strikeout on this nasty curveball, his specialty, to Christian Vazquez to end the inning.

 

Prior to that, he had a little help from his infield friends – Carlos Correa providing a bit of history.

 

Sale became irate at the home plate umpire’s strike zone in his second frame. And he has a right to be annoyed given the effect umpire controversies have had on the postseason so far.

 

Luckily, after loading the bases and not getting that call, Sale was bailed out by another phenomenal play in the outfield by Enrique Hernandez. The Red Sox utility man saving at least two runs thanks to this tumbling catch.

 

He was certainly enjoying the occasion.

 

The Red Sox knocked Valdez out of the game in a three-run third inning. That man Kike drawing Boston level with yet another home run, which induced an “Oh, Lord!” from Astros manager Dusty Baker as it happened during a live television interview. The ball traveled 448 feet and nearly hit the train tracks that run some 50 feet above the field.

 

The Red Sox then added two more runs thanks to an error from Altuve after a hit from J.D. Martinez and an RBI double from Renfroe as the Astros bullpen limbered up quickly.

 

Sale lasted 2 2/3 innings, just like Valdez. And by the end of the third, the game had already slogged on for 97 minutes, with 16 batters reaching base. Thankfully, Adam Ottavino sent down the side in order in the bottom of the fourth inning to speed things up. We also got a beautiful angle of his strikeout of Chas McCormick.

 

Cristian Javier provided some stability for the Astros out of the bullpen, throwing two scoreless innings to keep the Astros in touch. Whereas Red Sox reliever Ryan Brasier flirted with danger in the bottom of the firth inning, needing a play from Kike in the outfield once again to get out of a two-out, two-on jam.

 

The luck didn’t hold, however, as in the bottom of the sixth inning up popped Altuve to blast a two-run homer off Tanner Houck to bring the scores level.

 

Then, in the bottom of the seventh inning, it was time for Correa to make his mark.

 

And make a little bit more history for this Astros team.

 

When you know it’s your time, you deliver.

 

The Red Sox could not muster a reply as the Astros’ bullpen stifled them with six straight relievers delivering scoreless outings, giving the Astros the opportunity to add to their lead in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and nobody out facing Hirokazu Sawamura. Altuve doing the damage once again.

 

But Kike wasn’t going to let the Astros win this one without a sweat. He stepped up in the bottom of the ninth against Ryan Pressly and made it a one-run game with a leadoff homer.

 

It was a historic moment for Hernandez, who joined some illustrious company thanks to his two four-hit games in this postseason.

 

Pressly managed to close out the game thanks to three successive groundouts and the Houston crowd celebrated and had the moment Correa lifted them high etched into their brains for eternity.

 

Today’s Game 2 sees the injury-plagued Astros pitching roster turn to rookie right-hander Luis Garcia, whereas the Red Sox have Nathan Eovaldi to hopefully provide them with the outing to help even the series before returning to Boston.

 

Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Benjamin Haller

A Yorkshireman living in Australia, loving Major League Baseball from afar. As I wait for my A's to build their new stadium, I spend my time coaching soccer, writing for sportbc.blog, and over-analyzing relief pitcher scoring in fantasy baseball. Follow me @benjaminhaller1 for thousands of retweets

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