The Boston Red Sox defeated the Houston Astros in the ALCS to advance to the World Series behind a gem by lefty David Price.
The Boston Red Sox are heading back to the World Series for the first time since 2013 yet that may not even be the biggest story of the night.
David Price vanquished his postseason demons, earning his first playoff win as a starter. The veteran lefty had been haunted by his 0-9 track record as a playoff starter, drawing criticism for his inability to shine under the spotlight of the postseason stage.
Not anymore. Price dazzled over six shutout innings, allowing only three hits without a walk and tallying nine strikeouts. He joins Josh Beckett (2007 ALDS Game 1) and John Lackey (2013 ALCS Game 3) as the only Red Sox pitchers to toss 6+ innings without allowing a run or a walk in a postseason start. Price struck out more batters and allowed fewer hits than either of the other pitchers on that list.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Price’s gem is that he did it while out-dueling Justin Verlander. The Astros ace entered the night 4-0 with a 1.15 ERA in his last four elimination games. If there was anyone Houston could turn to with their postseason fate on the line, it was Verlander. Boston’s bats tagged the former MVP for four runs over six innings which proved to be more than enough to finish off the reigning champions.
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J.D. Martinez put Boston on the board with a solo homer in the third inning and Rafael Devers put the game away with a three-run shot against Verlander in the sixth. The pair of homers would be Boston’s only source of runs in the game but it would be enough with the way Price was dealing.
It’s hard to believe that the only game that the Red Sox lost in the ALCS was the one started by Chris Sale. That was Game 1 when Sale came up short in a head-to-head meeting with Verlander, costing the Red Sox home-field advantage. Boston would rally back to win four straight to send the Astros packing. Interestingly enough, the deceive game was supposed to be Sale’s start until he was scratched with a stomach illness that landed him in the hospital earlier this week. Sale should now be in line to start Game 1 of the World Series.
Pushing Sale’s outing back meant that Price would be starting on three days rest for the first time in his career. He also warmed up in the bullpen late in Game 4 preparing to enter in the event that closer Craig Kimbrel couldn’t hold the lead. If it weren’t for an outstanding game-ending catch by Andrew Benintendi last night, Boston may have been forced to send Price in to finish the game. That almost certainly would have meant he wouldn’t be starting Game 5, depriving him of the chance to come through with the most important win of his career.
The Red Sox will celebrate winning the pennant but their work isn’t done yet. Manager Alex Cora has created a collage of photos on his office wall to commemorate the franchise record 108 regular season wins plus each of their postseason victories. Four spots remain waiting to be added to that collection. With four more wins, the masterpiece will be complete and the Red Sox will be World Series champions once again.