Astros elim­i­nate Red Sox

Hous­ton to make first cham­pi­onship se­ries ap­pear­ance since join­ing Amer­i­can League

Fort McMurray Today - - SPORTS - JIMMY GOLEN

BOSTON — Justin Ver­lan­der out­pitched Chris Sale in a re­lief role re­ver­sal of aces, and the Hous­ton Astros ad­vanced to their first AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries, ral­ly­ing past the Boston Red Sox 5-4 Mon­day in Game 4 of their play­off matchup.

Hous­ton will open the ALCS on Fri­day, ei­ther at Cleve­land or at home against the New York Yan­kees. The Indians held a 2-1 edge over the Yan­kees go­ing into Game 4 of the AL Di­vi­sion Se­ries on Mon­day night.

With Ver­lan­der and Sale — the Game 1 starters — both pressed into re­lief, the Astros pre­vailed to win the ALDS 3-1.

Alex Breg­man home­red off Sale to tie it in the eighth and Josh Red­dick hit an RBI sin­gle off closer Craig Kim­brel later in the in­ning.

The Astros last reached the league cham­pi­onship se­ries in 2005 as a Na­tional League team, and were swept in the World Se­ries by the White Sox.

Car­los Bel­tran added to his legacy of post-sea­son suc­cess with an RBI dou­ble in the Hous­ton ninth for a 5-3 lead. Red Sox rookie Rafael Dev­ers opened the bot­tom of the ninth with an in­sid­e­the-park homer off Ken Giles, the ball hit­ting above cen­tre fielder Ge­orge Springer’s leap and bounc­ing off the an­gled Green Mon­ster.

Giles re­tired the next three bat­ters for a six-out save.

Springer and Yuli Gur­riel each had three hits for the AL West cham­pi­ons, and Red­dick’s go-ahead sin­gle made up for mis­play­ing a fly ball into a home run in Game 3 to force a fourth game.

Ver­lan­der al­lowed just one hit: A two-run homer to An­drew Ben­in­tendi — the first bat­ter he faced — that gave Boston a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Ver­lan­der wound up with the win in his first pro re­lief ap­pear­ance af­ter mak­ing 424 starts in the ma­jors and mi­nors.

The big right-han­der, ac­quired late in the sea­son from Detroit, also beat Sale in the play­off opener and is now 7-0 for his new team. Ver­lan­der went 22/3 in­nings in re­lief of starter Char­lie Mor­ton.

Sale pitched 42/3 in­nings, al­low­ing two runs and four hits, strik­ing out six.

On a rainy day at Fen­way Park — the fourth straight day game — the Red Sox again saw a starter strug­gle early, with Rick Por­cello giv­ing up Hous­ton’s eighth first-in­ning run of the se­ries. The reign­ing AL Cy Young win­ner, who led the AL with 22 wins last year and the ma­jors with 17 losses in 2017, gave up two runs in three in­nings, walk­ing three and strik­ing out four while al­low­ing five hits.

Like Hous­ton, the Red Sox called on their ace in re­lief.

Sale was sharp be­fore giv­ing up Breg­man’s lead­off homer in the eighth. He al­lowed a one-out sin­gle to Evan Gat­tis be­fore closer Kim­brel came on with two outs, walked Springer and gave up Red­dick’s sin­gle.

Xan­der Bo­gaerts also home­red for the AL East cham­pion Red Sox, and Han­ley Ramirez had two hits a day af­ter go­ing 4-for-4 in Boston’s only post-sea­son win since the end of the 2013 World Se­ries.

See ya

Red Sox man­ager John Far­rell was ejected by home plate um­pire Mark Weg­ner in the bot­tom of the sec­ond in­ning af­ter com­ing out to ar­gue a called third strike on Dustin Pe­droia. The pre­vi­ous bat­ter, Jackie Bradley Jr., had also been called out strikes on a close pitch.

It is the 19th ejec­tion of Far­rell’s ca­reer and his third this sea­son.

In­ter­fer­ence

The Red Sox ball girl was called for in­ter­fer­ence when she tried to field Gat­tis’ fair­ball grounder down the third base line in the eighth. In­stead of a po­ten­tial dou­ble, Gat­tis was sent back to first; pinchrun­ner Cameron May­bin took sec­ond on a wild pitch and scored the go-ahead run on Red­dick’s sin­gle.

Wasted op­por­tu­ni­ties

The Red Sox loaded the bases with no­body out in the sec­ond in­ning and failed to score. They also ran them­selves out of the third in­ning, when they got two sin­gles and a dou­ble with­out get­ting a run.

Ben­in­tendi led off with a sin­gle and then got dou­bled off first on Mookie Betts’ hard liner to third. Mitch More­land dou­bled, and then got thrown out at the plate — eas­ily — on Ramirez’s sin­gle to left. The Red Sox had 29 run­ners thrown out at the plate this sea­son, the most in the ma­jors.

Play­ing the sched­ule

The teams fin­ished Game 3 be­fore 6:30 p.m. on Sun­day but didn’t find out un­til about 11 p.m. what time they would be play­ing Game 4, be­cause TV wanted to keep the Yan­kees in prime time. That left the Red Sox and Astros with a brief af­ter­noon win­dow be­fore the rain be­gan to fall, as ex­pected.

The game started on time and was not de­layed, but the rain kept the grounds crew busy rak­ing dry­ing agent on the in­field.

ELSA/GETTY IMAGES

Hous­ton ace Justin Ver­lan­der cel­e­brates with team­mates af­ter de­feat­ing the Boston Red Sox 5-4 in Game 4 of the Amer­i­can League Di­vi­sion Se­ries on Mon­day at Fen­way Park in Boston. With the win, the Astros ad­vanced to the Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

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