The Boston Red Sox have hit three grand slams this postseason
History was made by the Boston Red Sox in Monday night’s 12-3 win over the Houston Astros. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Red Sox became the first team since the 1998 Atlanta Braves to hit three grand slams in a single postseason.
The Sox even more impressively made MLB history by becoming the first team ever to hit three grand slams in a single postseason series. In other words, the Red Sox accomplished in one series what only one other team had accomplished in an entire postseason. That’s pretty good.
After innocently escaping the first inning without allowing a base runner, Astros starter Jose Urquidy ran into trouble in the bottom of the second. After striking out the leadoff hitter Xander Bogaerts on three pitches, Urquidy walked Alex Verdugo, gave up a double to JD Martinez, and then walked Hunter Renfroe.
This prompted the Astros to use their first mound visit, sending pitching coach Brent Strom out to try to calm down Urquidy. It did not work. The very next batter, Christian Vazquez, would line a 1-2 fastball from Urquidy into left field for a base hit that scored Verdugo and give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. Things would not get better for the Astros as Christian Arroyo would reach on a ball that deflected off of Jose Altuve, scoring one more run, reloading the bases and setting up our history-making moment.
With the Red Sox leading 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning and the bases loaded with one out, Kyle Schwarber stepped to the plate for the Red Sox.
Since being acquired by the Red Sox just a few days prior to the MLB Trade Deadline, he has been the engine of the machine that is the Red Sox offense both in the stretch run in September and especially during the playoffs in October. Just 13 days prior in the American League Wild Card game against the New York Yankees, Schwarber had hit a mammoth home run off of Gerrit Cole to give the Red Sox a 3-0 and propelling them to a 6-2 victory.
In a moment that looked eerily similar to that one, Schwarber hammered a high 2-0 fastball from Urquidi into the right field seats at Fenway Park for a grand slam. The history-making blast gave the Red Sox a 6-0 lead.
Surprisingly, after surrendering the grand slam to Schwarber, and allowing five consecutive batters to reach base prior, Urquidi was not removed from the game and in fact would be allowed to face three more batters. A head scratching decision by Astros manager Dusty Baker. Urquidy was able to get Rafael Devers to fly out to center, but after allowing two more singles to Kike Hernandez and Bogaerts, Baker had seen enough and finally decided to give his game three starter the boot. For the second consecutive game in a row the Astros starter was unable to escape the 2nd.
In for him came the righty reliever Yimi Garcia who would retire Verdugo to escape the second, but quickly ran into trouble in the third. With one out he walked Renfroe who would successfully steal second and advance to third on a throwing error by Astros catcher Martin Maldonaldo. Garcia then allowed an RBI single to Vazquez to make it 7-0 Red Sox. On the very next pitch, Arroyo drilled a slider from Garcia over the Green Monster to give the Red Sox a 9-0 lead.
The Astros would not go away easily however as on one of the few mistakes of the night by Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez, Kyle Tucker would hit a three-run home run to cut the lead to 9-3 in the top of the fourth.
However, Martinez would respond by hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning giving the Red Sox an 11-3 lead and Devers would add a solo shot in the seventh to make it 12-3, effectively ending any remaining hopes of an Astros comeback.
While the offense was certainly the highlight of the Game 3 victory, it should also be noted that Rodriguez turned in what was the best start of his postseason career. The southpaw went 6 innings allowing only five hits, three runs on the home run to Tucker, while striking out seven and walking no one. For comparison, the Astros starters have thrown a combined 5 ⅓ innings pitched in this series. Just more evidence to the belief by some that it is actually the Red Sox that hold the pitching advantage in this series.
This was also a very good game for Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom. Many had questioned his patient approach to the trade deadline. Bloom traded for Schwarber, who was objectively a very good hitter, but was not seen as a natural fit at the time while the rival Yankees traded for Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo. If Chaim Bloom was not already vindicated by Schwarber and Bobby Dalbec keeping the Red Sox season alive, as their strong performances down the stretch carried the team during their covid outbreak, he certainly was tonight. As two of his acquisitions, Schwarber and Arroyo had two key hits in this game.
The Red Sox now hold a two games to one lead in the series with two of the possible four remaining games being played at Fenway. If the Red Sox win two more games to this series and advance to their fifth world series this century, they will be only the third wild card team to make the World Series since the Wild Card round was added in 2012. For a team who suffered one of their worst seasons in franchise history last season and who’s over-under for wins entering this one was 80, that’s pretty impressive.