October 19, 2018
J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers clubbed home runs, David Price twirled six scoreless innings, and the Boston Red Sox eliminated the defending champion Houston Astros with a 4-1 victory in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Thursday.
The Red Sox claimed the final four games of the series by punishing the Astros’ stellar pitching with an endless string of quality plate appearances. They bested Astros ace Justin Verlander (1-1) to secure their first AL pennant in five years, setting a date opposite either the Los Angeles Dodgers or Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series starting next Tuesday in Boston.
Jackie Bradley Jr. was selected the ALCS Most Valuable Player despite going 0-for-3 in Game 5. He went just 3-for-15 in the series, but the hits were a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3 and a go-ahead, two-run homer in Game 4. He drove in nine runs in the ALCS.
Much to the Astros’ frustration, another disputed call worked against them.
In Game 4, Jose Altuve had a two-run home run negated by a dubious fan interference ruling. With one out in the third inning of the series finale, Verlander appeared to throw a strike on an 0-2 pitch to Martinez, but plate umpire Chris Guccione believed otherwise. Martinez belted the next pitch 396 feet out to left field for a 1-0 Red Sox lead.
That blast snapped a 26-inning scoreless streak for Verlander in elimination games and gave Price the cushion he needed to find his rhythm.
Price (1-0) worked around a two-out single by Altuve in the first inning and a leadoff single by Yuli Gurriel in the second. He retired eight consecutive batters after Gurriel reached safely before Gurriel won a nine-pitch confrontation via a two-out double in the bottom of the fourth.
Price recovered to strike out Marwin Gonzalez with a 2-2 changeup before retiring the Astros in order in the fifth and sixth. He surrendered three hits, did not walk a batter, and recorded nine strikeouts.
Price had been 0-9 with a 6.16 ERA over 11 career postseason starts. For one night, he rendered that ugly personal history moot by getting 15 swinging strikes, 12 on his changeup.
Verlander wasn’t quite as sharp with his secondary offerings, earning just one swing and miss on 19 curveballs, with one of the four put in play clearing the fence on the Martinez dinger. Still, Verlander kept the Astros in contention until falling apart in the sixth, allowing a leadoff double to Mitch Moreland and a single to Ian Kinsler before Devers pounced on a first-pitch fastball.
Devers, six days shy of his 22nd birthday, drilled the pitch into the Crawford Boxes in left, extending the Boston lead to 4-0.
Verlander had been 4-1 with a 1.21 ERA in elimination games with the Astros and Detroit Tigers, but he departed after six innings with seven hits, two walks, and four runs on his ledger. Verlander recorded only four strikeouts over 97 pitches.
Gonzalez homered off Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes in the seventh inning before Game 3 winner Nathan Eovaldi emerged from the bullpen to stifle that rally. Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel worked the ninth inning, earning his fifth save of the postseason and third of the ALCS.
–Field Level Media