Red Sox eliminated from postseason with ALDS Game 4 loss

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Craig Kimbrel
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 09: Craig Kimbrel /

The Boston Red Sox fell 5-4 to the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the ALDS, eliminating them in the first round of the postseason.

The 2017 season has come to an end for the Boston Red Sox after a Game 4 loss to the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series.

After getting shelled in both games down in Houston to begin the series, Boston battled back with a convincing Game 3 win at Fenway Park. Despite a late lead that provided a glimmer of hope that the Red Sox would force the series to go the full five games, the bullpen couldn’t hold on against an unrelenting Astros lineup.

Boston continued the trend of falling behind early as Rick Porcello allowed a run in each of the first two innings. The two runs the right-hander allowed over three innings was actually a quality start by the low standards set by the Red Sox rotation in this series.

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Chris Sale took over to begin the fourth inning and was brilliant over the course of the next four innings. Had he been pulled after the seventh inning with the Red Sox going on to win the game, we’d be talking about Sale as the hero of this game. Instead, Sale was left in a bit too long. The clearly fatigued ace coughed up a game-tying solo homer to Alex Bregman to lead off the eighth, deflating a raucous Fenway crowd.

An Evan Gattis single was sandwiched between a pair of outs before Sale was finally pulled for Craig Kimbrel. The Red Sox closer was clearly amped, topping 101 mph on the radar gun but with shaky control. He walked the first batter he faced before giving up the go-ahead run on a base hit to old friend Josh Reddick. It was only the second inherited runner that Kimbrel allowed to score all year but it proved to be the most costly.

Houston would tack on an insurance run in the top of the ninth on a Carlos Beltran double. You know your closer is having a rough day when he can’t sneak his triple-digit heater by a 40-year old hitter.

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That extra run made all the difference for the Astros. Rafael Devers came through with an inside-the-park home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth. The rookie was already the youngest hitter in franchise history to hit a postseason home run. Has any major league player hit an inside-the-park homer at a younger age? I’m going to go out on a limb and say no.

Unfortunately, the rally ended there, as Ken Giles retired the next three batters in order to end Boston’s season.

The Red Sox turned to their two best pitchers to save them and neither could get the job done. The blame falls as much on the coaching staff as it does on the pitchers though. Sale shouldn’t have remained in the game to begin the eighth. If Kimbrel entered with the bases clean then there would be no inherited runner to score against him. Manager John Farrell had been ejected from the game by that point but is there any doubt he was still calling the shots from inside the clubhouse?

As disappointing as it is to end the season this way, the objective fan knows that the Red Sox were never favored to win this series. We can take some solace in that they stormed back to win a game and kept the decisive Game 4 interesting until the end. That’s a lot more than we could have hoped for after the first two games when it looked like the Red Sox were ready to roll over.

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Avoiding a three-game sweep is an improvement over last year’s fate. If ownership opens up the checkbook this winter to bring some reinforcement to the lineup then the Red Sox should be back on the October stage again next year.