Astros 5, Red Sox 0
Luis Garcia and four relievers combined on a two-hit shutout as the Houston Astros beat the Boston Red Sox, 5–0. With this masterful performance, the Astros won the ALCS 4-2. Houston is advancing to their third World Series appearance in the past five seasons. After hitting .522 with five extra-base hits in the series, Yordan Alvarez was named ALCS MVP.
Garcia, Alvarez Lead Astros
Houston got off to a good start with Alvarez plating Alex Bregman with a double in the first inning, the only run of support that Garcia and the Astros needed. However, they scored a little bit more to give their pitchers some breathing room.
In the sixth inning, with runners on the corners and nobody out, Kyle Tucker grounded into a double play to bring home the second run of the day. The final dagger came in the eighth inning when Tucker blasted a three-run home run to the Crawford Boxes in left. This big blast brought the score to 5–0. Alvarez finished the day with four hits, three of them were extra-base hits, an RBI, and two runs scored.
It was a massive bounce-back start from Garcia, who was really struggling in the postseason. Before Friday’s start, the rookie gave up ten runs in 3 2/3 innings across two starts in this postseason. However, Friday’s start could not have been more different. The 23-year-old took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning. Overall, he went 5 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on one hit, one walk, and striking out seven.
The bullpen pitched the final 3 1/3 innings, also allowing no runs and only a hit and a walk. The only real threat for Boston came in the seventh inning when they had runners on the corners and one out. On a 3–2 count, Alex Verdugo took off from first, Travis Shaw swung and missed, and Martin Maldonado threw a strike to second to get Verdugo for the double play.
How the Astros Beat the Red Sox
Timely hitting was the key to Houston’s success over Boston. Jose Altuve was the perfect example of this. The veteran only hit .125 in the series, but two of his hits were game-tying home runs. Carlos Correa extended his history of big-game heroics with a go-ahead homer in Game One and a double that started a rally in the ninth inning of Game Four. Yuli Gurriel and Alvarez were both hit machines in this series as well, both hitting over .455 across the six games.
It also helped that the Astros got much better pitching performances from Framber Valdez and Garcia. In Games One and Two, the pair combined for 3 2/3 innings, giving up seven runs. In Games Five and Six, they combined for 13 2/3 innings, giving up one run. These last two starts were critical for a team that lost its ace, Lance McCullers Jr., to injury before the series.
Houston Astros Advance to World Series
For Houston, this is their third World Series appearance in the past five seasons but their first under Dusty Baker. This is the second time as a manager that Baker will appear in the World Series and first time since 2002. Baker won a World Series as a player but is still seeking his first championship as a manager. A championship for the players would also be extremely significant. Many believe Houston’s title in 2017 is soiled because of the sign-stealing scandal. Winning a World Series this year would put some questions/doubters to rest, although what they did in 2017 will always be attached to them. The World Series begins Tuesday, October 26 on FOX.