Welcome to Game 4 of the American League Division Series, a matchup that 24 hours ago or so it sure did not seem like we were going to get. That’s not just a reference to how out of this series the Red Sox seemed before their victory on Sunday in Game 3 against the Astros: It’s also a nod to the awful weather that was expected — and is still on the radar — for Monday.
We just might start up Game 4, get a lengthy delay, and then see the starting pitchers removed not because they’re pitching poorly like in Game 3, but because nature demands it. I’m sure both fan bases will be able to reasonably handle whatever negative thing comes from such a situation and in the process dooms their team to a loss.
As usual with these live blogs, if you want to read from the beginning, scroll down to the “1st inning” header and then work your way back up.
Craig Kimbrel is back on the mound again — obviously — and retires Carlos Correa with a three-pitch strikeout. The lineup that never stops now brings Marwin Gonzalez to the plate as the Astros try to pad their 4-3 lead and make life more difficult for the Red Sox in the bottom of the ninth.
Gonzalez was hit by a pitch, so now it’s Astros’ hero Alex Bregman up once more. Bregman hits a long fly ball, but this one stays in the yard. Gonzalez stays put, and Gurriel comes to the plate to try to add to his big day and the Astros’ lead. Gurriel swings at the first pitch, giving him three of the four necessary components for a cycle. As it’s the ninth, that’s probably not happening unless this game somehow gets even weirder.
Carlos Beltran is pinch-hitting for Maybin, and he hits a ball off the wall that scores a run and now has two more Astros in scoring position. 5-3, Houston. And that’s it for Kimbrel, too: Addison Reed will try to stop the bleeding. And he does, in one pitch.
This is it for the Red Sox. Their season is down to three outs. Rafael Devers, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr. are set to face Giles, down 5-3.
Devers starts things off the right way with an inside-the-park home run! 5-4, Astros, and there are still no outs. That Beltran RBI looms large.
Man, Alex Bregman is a smooth defender. He grabbed a grounder and executed a spin and throw that Vazquez never had a chance to beat. The Red Sox are down to two outs, Jackie Bradley Jr. is up.
Bradley strikes out when he can’t hold up his swing, and the Red Sox are down to their final out. Here’s Dustin Pedroia to try to keep things going. Pedroia is batting just .133 in the series, so if he was waiting for a moment to get hot, this certainly qualifies.
2-1 count on Pedroia; Giles is pitching low and away, and Pedroia bit once. He also bites on a pitch low and inside, so the count is all tied up. Boston down to their final strike.
Pedroia fouls off 99, then lays off on Giles’ 27th pitch outside the zone. It’s a full count.
GIles is bringing the heat, with another high fastball that Pedroia fouls off. This feels like it’s setting up for another slider in the hopes Pedroia swings right through it.
Pedroia ends up grounding out to second, and that’s the ALDS: the Astros, 100-game winners in the regular season and the dominant force in the first two games of this series, are the first team to punch a ticket to the League Championship round.
Craig Kimbrel is warming in the Red Sox bullpen, so Boston has pivoted and appears to be going with Chris Sale until Kimbrel is ready, and then the long save for their closer. With the day off tomorrow — and again, no Game 5 unless you win Game 4 — why not?
Alex Bregman leads off the eighth. And Bregman hits his second homer of the series off of Chris Sale to tie this thing up at two! Like I just said: there is no Game 5 until you win Game 4. On the bright side for Boston, Sale’s four-plus frames means the bullpen is fresh if this thing ends up in extras.
On the downside for Boston, Evan Gattis just hit a ball on the third base line that the ballgirl interfered with. On the upside once again — what a rollercoaster! — Gattis was sent back to first base, so she probably helped out. Cameron Maybin now pinch-runs for Gattis, and does so from first base with McCann up once more.
Ken Giles is warming in the Astros’ pen at the same time Kimbrel is all warmed up in Boston’s. We might see some closer dueling here in a tie game.
Sale gets McCann to fly out to right for the second out of the inning, and that’s it for Sale. Craig Kimbrel is now on for an extended appearance, but it won’t be a save opportunity unless Boston scores in the bottom half.
Kimbrel is not off to a great start, with three straight balls and the last of them going to the backstop. The go-ahead run is now in scoring position. Kimbrel not only needs to get out of this now with Springer up in order to keep a run from scoring, but because extending the inning now would mean Reddick and then maybe Altuve up with a runner on.
Spring walks, though, so that’s exactly the situation he finds himself in: Reddick up with two runners on. After a long, eight-pitch at-bat where Reddick fouled off repeated high fastballs, he pokes a ball the other way past shortstop Xander Bogaerts to give Houston a 4-3 lead. Now it’s Altuve’s turn to add to that lead and give Giles a cushion for the next two frames. Kimbrel got out of it, but the lead still exists.
Betts and Moreland are both sat down in just nine pitches total, which means it’s looking like the bottom of Boston’s order is going to be responsible for any comeback. Before that, though, Hanley Ramirez, who has been swinging as hard as humanly possible all day, is up. And now, Hanley Ramirez did not swing so hard, and he is out.
With Springer, Reddick, and Altuve due up once again, the Red Sox are keeping Chris Sale out their for a fourth inning of work. With the threat of rain not what it was, and a need to win Game 4 before you can worry about how Game 5 goes, it makes sense. Plus, Addison Reed and Craig Kimbrel can take over at any time now, and Reed can warm in a hurry if the wheels start to come off four innings in as they did for Price in Game 3.
Springer gets his third hit of the day with a single to left, and while the scorebug might say there are two outs in the inning, I assure you, there are zero. FS1 has now taken it down completely so they can unplug it and plug it back in.
Hey, it’s back, and with the proper number of outs! And now there’s one added to it, as Reddick shoots a big-league fly ball to Benintendi in left, bringing up Altuve.
Reed has started warming, and he looks like he’s moving quick. He threw just six pitches in Game 3 on Sunday, so he shouldn’t have rust nor lack of rest.
Altuve struck out looking at the same pitch that got Dustin Pedroia heated earlier, so maybe Mark Wegner just hates short second basemen. Reed is all warmed up, but it’s still Sale in to face Correa with two outs.
Pitch 61 from Sale is a base hit to left, and it feels more and more like this is the last inning for him. His next batter might even be his last, as pitching coach Carl Willis just came out for a mound visit.
Sale has Gonzalez down to his last strike, and given the lead, the biggest pitch of the outing is coming up. The pitch was as big as the break on it, with Sale going looooow on a slider that Gonzalez whiffed through. That’s gotta be it for the lanky lefty, who made it through four scoreless on 65 pitches.
Justin Verlander is still in, too, and quickly sits Pedroia down. Sale update: he got high fives in the dugout, so he’s likely out of the game. Except Addison Reed sat down in the pen, so... Sale is coming back out for a fifth inning? Baseball is wild.
Verlander makes quick work of Bogaerts, too. Two outs, and Benintendi is back up. He flies out to Josh Reddick in the right field corner, and Reddick manages to not accidentally roll the ball into the stands for a homer. To the eighth!
There’s Chris Sale again to begin the sixth inning, and he gets the first out immediately. Sale is likely still in because of the lead change and the rain coming at a different pace than expected. Sale finally allows a baserunner, with Gurriel reaching on an error, and he’s now at second with Evan Gattis up.
Gattis strikes out, and Sale is now at 38 pitches with two down and Gurriel still at first. Sale’s got the movement he was missing on his pitches in Game 1, which could be a good sign for a hypothetical Game 5. Assuming that’s still the plan, anyway: Boston might be pulling a Price here and worrying about tomorrow when it comes.
McCann goes down, and that’s three scoreless relief innings for Chris Sale. He’s at 41 pitches, and the Red Sox remain up 3-2.
Rafael Devers draws a walk, and once again has trouble putting his bat down at a normal time in a normal way. Vazquez follows with an out to center, and that brings up Bradley Jr. once again. Bradley hits into an inning-ending double play, but on the bright side for his day, he didn’t strike out again. On to the seventh!
Sale is back out here for the fifth after a 14-pitch first inning, to face Altuve, Correa, and Gonzalez. The umps are trying to figure out the plan for delaying this game, and while they aren’t there yet, the conversation has started. Rafael Devers just scooped up a soaking wet ball barehanded and made an accurate, strong throw to get Altuve at first, helping Boston’s cause of squeezing work out of Sale.
Sale does not look diminished like he did in Game 1, and he’s throwing in the upper-90s. Not to be outdone, Justin Verlander is now in the Astros’ bullpen warming up... and he might not just be warming up, even if he’s the scheduled starter for Game 5. Hinch said before the game Verlander is in the pen today to be used if needed, so he might get the same side session as live game action Sale is.
Sale strikes out Correa after a nine-pitch at-bat, and Correa just tosses his bat up in the air, a little more confused about physics than he was before that at-bat began.
As Sale approaches 30 pitches, it seems even more likely this would be his last inning, rain or no. There’s number 30, and it turns into a fly ball to center that ends the inning. Six up, six down for Sale. Not bad for a “side session.”
The rain might not be coming when initially predicted, by the way, unless the winds change:
Source : https://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2017/10/9/16448138/red-sox-astros-2017-results-score-highlights-alds-game-4