Ver­lan­der helps Astros elim­i­nate the Red Sox

Tops Sale in star bat­tle of bullpens

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - FRONT PAGE -

BOSTON — The Hous­ton Astros poured back onto the field af­ter ad­vanc­ing to their first AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries, pos­ing for pic­tures with the Green Mon­ster as a back­drop be­fore a few play­ers bel­lyflopped in the pud­dles in the in­field dirt.

They were al­ready soaked with cel­e­bra­tory beer and sparkling wine.

“Both teams were throw­ing their guys, and that's what you live for,” Hous­ton third base­man Alex Breg­man said on Mon­day af­ter Justin Ver­lan­der came out of the bullpen to beat Chris Sale in an aces-turne­dreliev­ers role re­ver­sal and helped the Astros elim­i­nate the Red Sox in four games with a 5-4 vic­tory.

“When we saw Ver­lan­der run to the `pen we said, `Our horse is on the mound, we need to win this game,“’ said Breg­man, who home­red off Sale to tie it in the eighth be­fore Josh Red­dick's sin­gle gave the Astros the lead. “That's kind of the whole en­ergy that he's brought since we brought him over here. He's brought an en­ergy with him that, `Hey, when he's out there, we're go­ing to win.“’

Ver­lan­der, who was ac­quired for the play­off run af­ter spend­ing his first 13 sea­sons in Detroit, gave up the go-ahead homer to An­drew Ben­in­tendi — the first bat­ter he faced — be­fore shut­ting Boston down for the next 2 2/3 in­nings.

The for­mer AL MVP and Cy Young win­ner earned the vic­tory in his first re­lief ap­pear­ance af­ter 424 starts in a ma­jor and mi­nor league ca­reer.

“All the things that you would like to do as a starter, and I was able to do that,” Ver­lan­der said. “Top to bot­tom, man, th­ese guys grinded against two of the tough­est com­peti­tors in this game in Sale and (closer Craig) Kim­brel.”

The Astros 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.

The Red Sox forced a Game 4 af­ter los­ing the first two games in Hous­ton, and then took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on Ben­in­tendi's homer. Breg­man tied it be­fore Red­dick's sin­gle off closer Craig Kim­brel made it 4-3.

Car­los Bel­tran added to his post­sea­son legacy with an RBI dou­ble in the ninth — an in­sur­ance run that be­came the game-win­ner when Rafael Dev­ers hit an in­side-the-park homer off closer Ken Giles over leap­ing cen­ter fielder Ge­orge Springer and off the Green Mon­ster to­ward cen­ter.

The 20-year-old Red Sox rookie eas­ily cir­cled the bases be­fore the throw to make it 5-4.

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

“The two big boys, Sale and Ver­lan­der, both get into the game. Ev­ery­body did well,” Hous­ton man­ager A.J. Hinch said. “No­body re­ally wanted to con­cede the game.”

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. This year's team, wear­ing “Hous­ton Strong” patches to sup­port the city that was flooded in Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, is hop­ing to fin­ish the

job.

“The city of Hous­ton is still re­build­ing,” Hinch said. “It's easy for us to look in the rearview mir­ror and think that the hur­ri­cane is over (but) the re­build is not go­ing to stop for a long time. … We want to win for them, we want to win for us, we want to win be­cause we showed up in spring train­ing to try to win a World Se­ries.”

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. Red­dick got a postgame drench­ing in the club­house while wear­ing a red, white and blue flag Speedo.

Ver­lan­der also beat Sale in the play­off opener and is now 7-0 for his new team. Sale, who had never ap­peared in the post­sea­son be­fore 2017, pitched 4 2/3 in­nings, al­low­ing two runs and four hits, strik­ing out six.

“This is what we show up to spring train­ing for. It's what we work all off­sea­son for. Ups and downs, all around the coun­try,” Sale said. “This is what we live for.”

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.

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 post­sea­son 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' fair-ball grounder down the third base line in the eighth. In­stead of a po­ten­tial dou­ble, Gat­tis was sent back to first; pinch-run­ner Cameron May­bin took sec­ond on a wild pitch and scored the go-ahead run on Red­dick's sin­gle.

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.

Michael Dwyer / As­so­ci­ated Press

Dustin Pe­droia sits alone in the dugout af­ter his Red Sox were elim­i­nated by the Hous­ton Astros in Game 4 of the Amer­i­can League Di­vi­sion Se­ries on Mon­day in Boston.

Michael Dwyer / As­so­ci­ated Press

The Astros’ Cameron May­bin scores the go-ahead run past Red Sox catcher Chris­tian Vazquez dur­ing the eighth in­ning of Mon­day’s game in Boston.

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