The Boston Red Sox rebounded with an impressive 9-5 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 2 on Saturday to even the American League Championship Series at one game each.
J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers supplied the offense early. Both players hit a grand slam to spot the Red Sox with an eight-run lead after the top of the second.
After the bullpen's struggles on Friday night, Red Sox manager Alex Cora sent his ace Nathan Eovaldi to the mound looking to steal a game in Houston. The right-hander entered with three runs allowed in 10.1 innings over two starts this postseason.
The Astros countered with Luis Garcia, who allowed five runs over 2.2 innings to the Chicago White Sox in his only start of the American League Division Series.
Garcia only lasted one inning before being removed with an apparent injury. Eovaldi allowed three runs over 5.1 innings to earn his second win of the postseason.
Notable Game Stats
- Nathan Eovaldi (BOS): 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB, 3 K
- J.D. Martinez (BOS): 2-for-5, Grand Slam, 4 RBI
- Rafael Devers (BOS): 1-for-4, Grand Slam, 4 RBI
- Enrique Hernandez (BOS): 2-for-4, Solo HR, RBI, 2 runs
- Luis Garcia (HOU): 1 IP, 2 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, HR
- Jake Odorizzi (HOU): 4 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 5 K, 2 HR
- Yuli Gurriel (HOU): 2-for-4, Solo HR, 3 RBI
Red Sox Stars Shine in Big Win
There are some teams that would get down on themselves coming off a difficult playoff loss in which they led most of the way.
The Red Sox wasted no time in Game 2 proving they were not dwelling on Friday's result. Kyle Schwarber led off the game with a double. Devers worked a walk in his first at-bat after falling behind 0-2 in the count.
Martinez, who has been dealing with an ankle injury that kept him out of the wild-card game, took the second pitch he saw from Garcia out to right field for a grand slam.
The second inning played out in similar fashion for the Red Sox. Garcia was pulled after walking Kevin Plawecki on four pitches to lead off the frame.
After a prolonged warm-up period for Jake Odorizzi, Christian Arroyo and Enrique Hernandez both singled to load the bases. Devers brought everyone home with a grand slam that put Boston up 8-0 and made history in the process.
The Red Sox offense didn't keep up its torrid early pace from the first two innings, but Hernandez made sure to get in on the action. Continuing his red-hot postseason performance, the 30-year-old took Odorizzi deep to left field in the top of the fourth.
The stats for Hernandez through his first seven playoff games this season are among the best in MLB history:
MLB Stats @MLBStats
Through 7 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/postseason?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#postseason</a> games, <a href="https://twitter.com/kikehndez?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@kikehndez</a> has already tied the <a href="https://twitter.com/RedSox?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RedSox</a> record for most HR (5) in a single <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/postseason?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#postseason</a>.<br><br>David Ortiz 2013<br>David Ortiz 2004<br>Todd Walker 2003 <a href="https://t.co/amdeijD0Sf">pic.twitter.com/amdeijD0Sf</a>
MLB Stats @MLBStats
Players with 35+ total bases in a 7-game <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/postseason?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#postseason</a> span (single season):<a href="https://twitter.com/kikehndez?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@kikehndez</a> 35 (2021)<br>Daniel Murphy 35 (2015)<br>Carlos Beltrán 38 (2004) <a href="https://t.co/VJgRxBScly">pic.twitter.com/VJgRxBScly</a>
The nine runs of support was more than enough for Eovaldi. He was fantastic the first time through Houston's lineup, with Alex Bregman's single being the only hit allowed through the first three innings.
Even though the Astros did break through with three runs in the bottom of the fourth, they were never able to sustain another rally to make the game close.
Boston's bullpen has been a cause for concern all season, including Game 1, but that group stepped up in Saturday's win. Adam Ottavino, who pitched on back-to-back days for the first time since Oct. 1-2, worked around trouble in the bottom of the sixth to get the final two outs.
Garrett Whitlock tossed two scoreless innings, and had some help thanks to Arroyo's defense at second base.
Darwinzon Hernandez did have some issues in the bottom of the ninth. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro each hit a solo homer off him, prompting Red Sox manager Alex Cora to bring in Ryan Brasier to close out the win.
Garcia's Injury Spotlights Astros Pitching Depth
It's a testament to Houston's development group that its starting rotation hasn't fallen off a cliff in the nearly two years since Gerrit Cole left to sign with the New York Yankees and the year-plus since Justin Verlander last pitched because of Tommy John surgery.
Even though the pitching staff doesn't have the same dominant starters at the top, the Astros do have quality depth. That has served them well this postseason, especially with two dud outings by Garcia.
Houston may have been counting on Garcia to at least provide some relief for the bullpen in this game after that group had to cover 6.1 innings in Game 1. It was a risky proposition to begin with, given his struggles in the ALDS and that he only made it through six innings once in his last six starts of the regular season.
That didn't happen, leaving the Astros relievers to take care of the final eight innings in Game 2.
Per MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, Garcia was removed with right knee discomfort. That could cause a bigger problem if he has to be taken off the ALCS roster and the Astros advance to the World Series.
Odorizzi was called on out of the pen by manager Dusty Baker to replace Garcia. Even though his outing wasn't good, the right-hander was at least able to throw four innings to ease some of the burden on the rest of the relievers.
Houston's success is largely predicated on its offense overwhelming the opposing staff. The top four hitters in the lineup—Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Bregman, Yordan Alvarez—combined to go 2-for-16 with zero extra-base hits.
Jose Urquidy is currently the Astros' scheduled Game 3 starter, but he only threw 107 innings in the regular season and has yet to pitch in the playoffs. It's not a great sign for Baker if he's hoping to get some quality length out of his rotation for the first time in the series.
The ALCS will shift to Fenway Park for Game 3 on Monday at 8:08 p.m. ET on FS1. Jose Urquidy will start for the Astros. The Red Sox have yet to announce a starting pitcher.