ALCS

The Detroit News - - Baseball -

Jose Al­tuve and by Alex Breg­man. Sale made a rare re­lief ap­pear­ance in Game 4 at Fen­way Park, re­plac­ing Rick Por­cello to start the fourth in­ning with Bos­ton trail­ing 2-1.

Af­ter Andrew Ben­in­tendi’s two-run homer put the Red Sox ahead, Sale al­lowed Breg­man’s ty­ing home run lead­ing off the eighth and a one-out sin­gle to Evan Gat­tis, who gave Hous­ton the lead for good when he scored on Josh Red­dick’s sin­gle against Craig Kim­brel.

“Go­ing through that the last two years helped,” Brock Holt said. “We’re bet­ter be­cause of what hap­pened last year.”

Bos­ton was 57-24 at Fen­way Park this year, the best home record in the ma­jor leagues, and Sale has a 1.29 ERA and .199 op­po­nents’ bat­ting av­er­age in his last eight home starts.

“I think he just feeds off the crowd and he just feels more com­fort­able at home,” short­stop Xan­der Bo­gaerts said.

Bos­ton won the AL pen­nant in four of the six times it opened the Cham­pi­onship Se­ries at Fen­way, in 1975, 1986, 2007 and 2013, the last two en route to World Se­ries ti­tles. The Red Sox failed at this stage in 1988 and 1990.

“It’s a big dif­fer­ence to be able start at home against a good team,” Holt said.

With its quirky di­men­sions that in­clude the Green Mon­ster in left, Fen­way can be dif­fi­cult for vis­it­ing teams de­fen­sively. Mar­win Gon­za­lez has played just 24 reg­u­lar-sea­son in­nings in left field at Fen­way plus the two games last Oc­to­ber.

Af­ter beat­ing the 100-win Yan­kees, the Red Sox face the 103-vic­tory Astros. The only other year Bos­ton met a pair of teams in the post­sea­son with triple-digit reg­u­lar-sea­son wins was in 2004, when the Red Sox beat the Yan­kees (101) to be­come the first ma­jor league team to re­bound from a 3-0 post­sea­son deficit, then swept St. Louis (105) for their first ti­tle since 1918.

Red Sox man­ager Alex Cora said thus year’s win over the Yan­kees pro­vides a men­tal boost.

“I think we grew up as group,” he said.

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Adam Glanz­man/Getty Images

Red Sox out­fielder J.D. Martinez, right, made his big-league de­but for Hous­ton in 2011. He drove in 28 runs in his first full month in the ma­jors.

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