Ver­lan­der helps Astros elim­i­nate Red Sox

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE -

BOSTON — Justin Ver­lan­der came out of the bullpen for the first time in his ca­reer, beat­ing Chris Sale in an aces-turned-re­liev­ers role re­ver­sal on Mon­day and the Hous­ton Astros ad­vanced to their first AL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries by ral­ly­ing past the Red Sox 5-4 and elim­i­nat­ing Boston in four games.

“When we saw Ver­lan­der run to the pen we said, ‘Our horse is on the mound, we need to win this game,’ ” said Hous­ton third base­man Alex 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,” Breg­man said of Ver­lan­der, the for­mer AL MVP and Cy Young win­ner who was ac­quired from Detroit for the play­off run. “He’s brought an en­ergy with him that, ‘Hey, when he’s out there, we’re go­ing to win.’ ”

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

With both Game 1 starters com­ing out of the bullpen, Ver­lan­der gave up a go-ahead homer to An­drew Ben­in­tendi — the first bat­ter he faced — be­fore shut­ting down the Red Sox for 22⁄3 in­nings. It was his first pro re­lief ap­pear­ance af­ter 424 starts in the ma­jors and mi­nors.

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 — an in­sur­ance run that be­came the gamewin­ner when Rafael Dev­ers hit an in­side-the-park homer off closer Ken Giles to lead off the bot­tom of the ninth.

“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.

Giles pitched a per­fect eighth be­fore Dev­ers opened the bot­tom of the ninth with a line drive over leap­ing cen­ter fielder Ge­orge Springer and off the Green Mon­ster to­ward cen­ter. The 20-yearold Red Sox rookie eas­ily cir­cled the bases be­fore the throw.

Giles re­tired the next three bat­ters for his first ca­reer post­sea­son save.

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

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 this year, pitched 42⁄3 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.

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.

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 on strikes.

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.

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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