For David Price, earning his first postseason victory as a starter couldn’t have come at a better moment for the Red Sox.
Pitching in the place of Chris Sale, Price delivered perhaps his best performance in his three seasons with the Red Sox. Price allowed just two hits and struck out a postseason career-high nine batters in six scoreless innings. Rafael Devers three-run bomb off of Astros’ ace Justin Verlander in the sixth sealed the defending champions fate as the Red Sox held on to win the game and the series 4-1, punching their ticket to their fourth World Series appearance in the last 14 years.
It was their fifth straight win on the road this postseason. Jackie Bradley Jr. was named ALCS MVP with his stellar offensive performance. His collected just three hits the entire season but two of which were home runs, including a grand slam in game three in an 8-2 blowout of the Astros.
11 postseason starts, zero wins. Those were the numbers staring Price in the face. As good as he has been, at times, during the regular season his struggles in the postseason have been well documented. With Chris Sale’s start pushed due to an illness, Price’s number was called and he delivered with his best start. Not only did he strike out a career-best nine batters, Price’s control was superb. If not walking a single batter isn’t impressive enough, Price reached a three-ball count just once on Thursday.
Of course, Price deserves a bulk of the credit. However, a tip of the cap to manager, Alex Cora for sticking with him, despite his early struggles to start the postseason. Cora’s instincts took over again with closer Craig Kimbrel, who got the final outs in the ninth to seal the victory. Kimbrel has struggled a lot through the playoffs and most would have preferred Cora leave Nathan Eovaldi in to close the game out. However, Cora’s move ultimately paid off and Kimbrel had his best outing of the postseason as he struck out two and walked just one in a scoreless ninth.
Nathan Eovaldi and Matt Barnes bridged the gap from Price to Kimbrel. Barnes pitched 0.2 innings and allowed one run on one hit. Eovaldi went 1.1 innings and struck out one and allowed just one hit.
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J.D. Martinez broke the ice for both teams with a home run off Verlander in the top of the third. Coming into the game, Verlander had a scoreless streak of 24 innings in games where his team faced elimination. Martinez snapped that streak in one swing of the bat. Devers three-run blast three innings later proved to be the deciding hit in the game. Marwin Gonzalez scored the lone run for the Astros. His solo shot off reliever Matt Barnes in the seventh gave them a little life. However, it was too little, too late.
The Red Sox are now 7-2 this postseason and have handled two teams that won at least 100 games in the regular season. After dropping Game One in Boston, the Red Sox rattled off four straight wins, including all three in Houston. From 1919-2003, the Red Sox appeared in the World Series just four times. Now, they are set to compete in the Fall Classic for the fourth time in just 14 years. They have won the previous three (04,07,13) in that span.
The Red Sox now await the winner of the NLCS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers. The Dodgers currently lead the series 3-2 and have a chance to close the series out on Friday. The Red Sox didn’t play either team in the regular season.