Yordan Alvarez, Framber Valdez Lift Astros to 3-2 ALCS Lead over Red Sox

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVOctober 21, 2021

Houston Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez throws against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning in Game 5 of baseball's American League Championship Series Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Boston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The Houston Astros are one game away from the World Series after a 9-1 Game 5 win over the Boston Red Sox.

Framber Valdez allowed just one run in eight innings to lift the Astros on Wednesday at Fenway Park, giving the team a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.

The game was a pitchers' duel early, with a Yordan Alvarez solo home run the only thing separating Valdez and Boston starter Chris Sale through five innings. Houston finally broke it open in the sixth with some clutch hitting to plate five runs:

Houston Astros @astros

Yordan's gonna Yordan.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForTheH?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForTheH</a> <a href="https://t.co/L9fHkkkUhZ">pic.twitter.com/L9fHkkkUhZ</a>

Houston Astros @astros

Pour it on.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForTheH?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForTheH</a> <a href="https://t.co/aVvmu5SoVZ">pic.twitter.com/aVvmu5SoVZ</a>

Houston Astros @astros

More.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForTheH?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForTheH</a> <a href="https://t.co/cQqrXznpVD">pic.twitter.com/cQqrXznpVD</a>

Alvarez finished with three hits and three RBI to key a big effort for the Houston offense while Valdez took care of the rest on the mound.

Boston ended the shutout on a Rafael Devers home run, but it wasn't enough to climb out of the massive hole as the team moves to the brink of elimination.

Notable Performances

Framber Valdez, SP, HOU: 8 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 5 K

Yordan Alvarez, DH, HOU: 3-for-5, HR, 3 RBI

Yuli Gurriel, 1B, HOU: 3-for-5, 3 RBI

Chris Sale, SP, BOS: 5.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 7 K

Rafael Devers, 3B, BOS: 2-for-3, HR

Enrique Hernandez, CF, BOS: 0-for-4

Framber Valdez Shuts Down Red Sox Offense

It didn't seem like anyone was going to slow down the Red Sox this postseason after they scored at least five runs in six of their first eight playoff games. Even when the team was held to two runs in Game 4, Astros starter Zack Greinke only lasted 1.1 innings before the bullpen took over.

Valdez didn't need as much help with his outstanding start keeping Boston off the scoreboard.


3 shutout innings for Framber Valdez 🔥 <a href="https://t.co/KwLwvK1BDU">pic.twitter.com/KwLwvK1BDU</a>

Pete Abraham @PeteAbe

12 up, 12 down for Valdez. Nothing out of the infield.<br><br>12 consecutive scoreless innings for the Sox.

Alex Rodriguez @AROD

When a sinker ball pitcher has it working there’s not much a hitter can do and that’s what we’re seeing with Valdez today.<br><br>Pitching to contact… quick outs and A LOT of routine ground balls. 8 groundouts for Sox hitters through 4. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ALCS?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ALCS</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MLB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MLB</a>

The success put him in rare territory:

Alyson Footer @alysonfooter

Framber Valdez is the first Astros starting pitcher in 5 ALCS games to complete the 3rd inning.

Phil Murphy @Phil_Sports

No pitcher has ever retired the first 10 batters at Fenway in postseason history (91 games)<br><br>Valdez is perfect through 9 batters tonight in Game 5 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ALCS?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ALCS</a><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ForTheH?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ForTheH</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DirtyWater?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DirtyWater</a>

The 27-year-old got the first 12 batters out and remained effective on his way to a big-time performance.

Greg Rajan @GregRajan

In terms of a "restoring order" vibe, Framber Valdez's outing today arguably is the best postseason start the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Astros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Astros</a> have gotten since Justin Verlander in Game 6 of the 2017 ALCS.

The only blemish came when Devers hit a seventh-inning solo home run:


The <a href="https://twitter.com/RedSox?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RedSox</a> are on the board after a solo shot from Devers <a href="https://t.co/YkyQgFRO1H">pic.twitter.com/YkyQgFRO1H</a>

Valdez still found success limiting baserunners, holding leadoff hitter Enrique Hernandez to an 0-for-3 night. Hernandez entered with a .463 postseason batting average, including nine hits in his first four ALCS games.

Key players like Kyle Schwarber, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez were also held hitless on Wednesday.

With Houston's talent on offense, this type of production on the mound could be enough to bring home a World Series title.

Yordan Alvarez Gets Clutch Hits for Houston

If it weren't for Yordan Alvarez, we might be talking about the incredible start by Chris Sale.

Alvarez represented the first run of the game after a long shot over the Green Monster in the second inning:


Yordan Alvarez to the Green Monster 🚀 <a href="https://t.co/xN81HaHqlc">pic.twitter.com/xN81HaHqlc</a>

Alvarez got his second hit in the fourth before any other player on either team got their first hit of the game.

In the top of the sixth, the designated hitter helped blow the game open with a two-run double that knocked Sale out of the game.

AlaNNa Rizzo @alannarizzo

Yordan Alvarez is the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Astros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Astros</a> offense tonight. A HR, 1B and 2B. He has driven in all of Houston's runs. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Astros?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Astros</a> lead 3-0 in the 6th.

MLB Stats @MLBStats

Yordan Alvarez joins Carlos Correa (2015, 2017) as the only <a href="https://twitter.com/astros?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@astros</a> players 24 or younger to have 3 H, 3 RBI in a <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/postseason?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#postseason</a> game. <a href="https://t.co/ChAkBOCPl2">pic.twitter.com/ChAkBOCPl2</a>

The production from the left side of the plate was especially rare against Sale:

Chandler Rome @Chandler_Rome

Yordan Alvarez had a single, double and home run tonight against Chris Sale. Sale allowed four hits total — three singles ad a double — to lefthanded hitters in 42.2 regular-season innings.

WEEI Red Sox Radio Network @SoxBooth

Yordan Alvarez is the 4th LHB ever to have three hits in a game off Chris Sale. <br><br>He is the first since 7-30-2015 when David Ortiz did it.

Bill Koch @BillKoch25

Left-handed hitters managed just a .346 OPS against Chris Sale in 2021. They've hit 12 regular season homers against him in 1304 career plate appearances.<br><br>The numbers said Sale could eventually get Yordan Alvarez out. His first two at-bats said something else. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RedSox?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RedSox</a> <a href="https://t.co/mRCvM7761k">https://t.co/mRCvM7761k</a>

Alvarez had a hit in each of the first four games of the series, but he especially stepped up in the biggest game of the year for Houston.

Yuli Gurriel helped the Astros add to their lead with his own three-hit, three RBI night.


The <a href="https://twitter.com/astros?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Astros</a> have officially silenced the crowd at Fenway tonight 😶 <a href="https://t.co/PhZHul8otu">pic.twitter.com/PhZHul8otu</a>

The Astros showcased their deep lineup while pulling away, even without many hard-hit balls throughout the night.

Alvarez was still the biggest star in Game 5 and a major reason Houston is leading this series.

What's Next?

The series shifts back to Minute Maid Park for Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7. Nathan Eovaldi is expected to take the mound for Boston in Game 6 on Friday at 8:08 p.m. ET. The Astros have not yet named a starter.


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