2018 American League Championship Series

From BR Bullpen

2018 American League Championship Series
Boston Rd Sox logo
2018 American League Championship Series logo
Houston Astros logo
Boston Rd Sox
108 - 54 in the AL
4 - 1
Series Summary
Houston Astros
103 - 59 in the AL


The Teams[edit]

Red Sox



Bill Miler was the replay umpire for the first two games then switched places with Hoye for Game 3.

Series results[edit]

Game Score Date Pitchers Time (ET)
1 Houston Astros 7 Boston Red Sox 2 October 13 Justin Verlander (1-0) Chris Sale (0-0) 8:09 pm
2 Houston Astros 5 Boston Red Sox 7 October 14 Gerrit Cole (0-1) David Price (0-0) 7:09 pm
3 Boston Red Sox 8 Houston Astros 2 October 16 Nathan Eovaldi (1-0) Dallas Keuchel (0-0) 5:09 pm
4 Boston Red Sox 8 Houston Astros 6 October 17 Rick Porcello (0-0) Charlie Morton (0-0) 8:39 pm
5 Boston Red Sox 4 Houston Astros 1 October 18 David Price (1-0) Justin Verlander (1-1) 8:09 pm


Game 1 @ Fenway Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Astros 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 4 7 5 1
Red Sox 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 3 1
WP: Justin Verlander (1-0); LP: Joe Kelly (0-1)
Home Runs: HOU - Josh Reddick (1), Yuli Gurriel (1)
  • Attendance: 38,007

The Astros won Game 1 after the promised pitchers duel between aces Chris Sale and Justin Verlander failed to materialize as the game while, low-hitting, featured walks aplenty. It was close until the 9th, when Houston used a couple of homers to add four insurance runs and break away with a 7-2 win. It was clear from the first batter that Sale was not his usual self for Boston, as he walked George Springer on a full count. However, he escaped serious problems when, after one out, Alex Bregman dropped a high pop up just out of the reach of RF Mookie Betts; 2B Brock Holt, who was also attempting to catch the ball, almost ran into Betts, allowing the ball to drop. However, the right fielder picked it up and immediately threw to second base, as Jose Altuve, who had replaced Springer at first base, was caught between the two bases, expecting the ball to be caught; Betts's throw pulled SS Xander Bogaerts off the bag and Altuve was originally called safe, but a video review showed that Bogaerts had managed to keep his foot on the bag just long enough to record the force out. Thanks to this break, Sale escaped the inning without giving up a run. For his part, Verlander allowed a lead-off single to Betts and walked J.D. Martinez with one out, but he escaped when Bogaerts grounded into a double play.

That first inning set the tone for the next few ones. There were baserunners, but hardly any hits. In the 2nd, Sale retired the first two batters, then completely lost the plate. He walked Carlos Correa on a full count, then hit Martin Maldonado with a pitch on another full count and finally loaded the bases by walking Josh Reddick as well. George Springer hit a ball that went by 3B Eduardo Nunez and into left field for a base hit - Houstin's first of the game - and it drove in two runs. Sale continued to struggle in the 3rd, issuing a lead-off walk to Alex Bregman, but he was caught stealing for the second out before Tyler White struck out to end the inning. Meanwhile, Verlander had settled down, retiring the Red Sox in order from the 2nd to the 4th, and Sale did the same in the top of the 4th, when he finally looked like himself. However, he had expended so many pitches getting through the first three innings that manager Alex Cora had to call on a reliever to pitch the 5th. Joe Kelly, who had warmed up earlier in the game when Sale was laboring, came out and he delivered a great inning, retiring Houston in order.

Boston managed to tie the score in the 5th as Verlander, who had been cruising after some problems in the 1st, suddenly lost his control. He allowed a lead-off single to Steve Pearce after a long at-bat, then after striking out Holt, walked Nunez and Jackie Bradley to load the bases. Cora sent in Mitch Moreland to pinch-hit for C Sandy Leon, and he drew a walk as well, forcing in a first run. Betts was up next with a chance to put the Red Sox ahead, but on the first pitch, he hit a soft grounder to Bregman at third base, who threw home to force Nunez for the second out. Andrew Benintendi was up next and with two strikes, he managed to check his swing on a pitch in the dirt; the ball got away from Maldonado for a wild pitch, allowing Bradley to score the tying run. Benintendi was then called out on strikes. He threw his helmet and bat to the ground, which did not please umpire James Hoye; Cora came out to defend his hitter and avoid his being ejected, but in arguing Hoye's call, he was the one who was tossed out of the game.

The 2-2 tie did not last long. With tempers still hot following Cora's ejection, Kelly hit the Astros' lead-off hitter in the 6th, Bregman, with a pitch. Bregman was unhappy, thinking it was retribution for his stepping out of the box at the last second on an earlier pitch, but he took his base. Yuli Gurriel followed by hitting what appeared to be a tailor-made double play grounder to third base, but Nunez bobbled the ball and everyone was safe. Kelly got White to pop up and struck out Marwin Gonzalez, but Correa singled to left and the unearned run put Houston ahead, 3-2. That score would hold until the 9th as Verlander regained his control, getting three consecutive ground ball outs in the bottom of the 6th. In the 7th, Matt Barnes escaped from issuing a couple of walks, and Ryan Pressly pitched around a fielding error by Correa, while in the 8th Ryan Brasier put a couple of runners on with a hit batsman and a walk, but got Maldonado to ground into a double play to end the inning. Lance McCullers followed with a perfect half inning as the 3-2 lead held. In the 9th, however, Boston's next pitcher, Brandon Workman, had it rougher. He allowed a lead-off homer to Reddick, then after one out issued back-to-back walks to Altuve and Bregman before Gurriel hit another homer. That was the game, as the score was now 7-2. Heath Hembree replaced Workman to record the final two outs, after which Collin McHugh pitched the bottom of the 9th. Houston had needed just 5 base hits to score its 7 runs, benefiting from 10 walks, 3 hit batsmen and an error; for its part, Boston had managed all of 3 hits off Houston's four pitchers.

Game 2 @ Fenway Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Astros 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 7 1
Red Sox 2 0 3 0 0 0 1 1 x 7 9 0
WP: Matt Barnes (1-0); LP: Gerrit Cole (0-1); SV: Craig Kimbrel (1)
Home Runs: HOU - Marwin Gonzalez (1)
  • Attendance: 37,960

Boston was nervous coming into Game 2 after losing the opener and knowing that starter David Price's record in the postseason was less than stellar, as his team had lost all ten times he had started a game. There were no such qualms for Houston, as Gerrit Cole had been excellent in winning Game 2 of the ALDS. The Red Sox made one change to their line-up, replacing 3B Eduardo Nunez, who had struggled defensively in the opener, with Rafael Devers, a move that would pay big dividends as the youngster had an excellent game on both sides of the ball.

Price did nothing to reassure Boston's faithful as he labored in the 1st inning, walking Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman back-to-back with one out. However, he reared back to find an extra gear and blew away the next two batters, Yuli Gurriel and Tyler White, with some big-time heat. The Red Sox then got to Cole in the bottom of the inning as Mookie Betts led off with a double against the center field wall and Andrew Benintendi followed with an RBI single. With one out, Cole threw wildly to first base on a tapper by Xander Bogaerts, putting runners on second and third base, Steve Pearce walked and Devers singled to left to drive in a second run. Cole retired the next two batters but Boston was up, 2-0. The lead did not last long, however, as Carlos Correa reached on an infield single with one out in the 2nd on a play on which SS Bogaerts was a bit nonchalant. Martin Maldonado followed with a double, advancing Correa to third, and after a second out, George Springer was jammed inside by one of Price's pitches, but still managed to deposit the ball into right field for a two-run double that my not have been pretty but did the job. In the 3rd, Yuli Gurriel singled and with two outs, Marwin Gonzalez connected for a long homer that went well over the Green Monster seats in left field and would have landed in the street had it not hit one of the signs above those seats. It was now 4-2 in Houston's favor and history seemed to be repeating itself for Price.

However, Boston replied immediately in the bottom of the 3rd. Bogaerts singled with one out and went to third on a double by Pearce that hit the wall just out of the reach of a leaping Gonzalez in left field. Devers then drew a four-pitch walk, and after Cole had struck out Ian Kinsler, Jackie Bradley hit a ball to the left field corner that bounced off the wall onto the top of the ramp lining the left field foul territory, where in a freak occurrence the ball rolled away from Gonzalez, too high for him to reach it. That allowed the bases to clear as Bradley ended up on second. The Red Sox had a 5-4 lead, and would not relinquish it for the remainder of the game. Both teams were retired in order in the 4th and in the 5th, Price gave up a one-out walk to Bregman and a two-out one to White. With Gonzalez coming up, manager Alex Cora called on reliever Matt Barnes, which meant Price would not be eligible for the win, but at least he had done just enough to put his team in the lead. Barnes struck out Gonzalez. He actually did so twice, as his first two-strike pitch was ruled a foul tip by umpire Vic Carapazza, although replays showed he had completely whiffed on the ball; Barnes returned with the exact same pitch, and this time there was no doubt that Gonzalez had swung and missed. Barnes then retired the Astros in order in the 6th, while Cole did the same in both the 5th and 6th. There was a strange incident in the 6th when Bradley hit a ball that Maldonado fielded inches in front of the plate, then tagged Bradley who had not left the batter's box. Carapazza called Bradley out, but the Red Sox protested that the batted ball had hit Bradley, something that Carapazza had not seen but was very apparent on the televised replay. The umpires had to confer first to determine whether the play was reviewable, and then to go to New York for a ruling, and after a considerable delay, the hit was ruled a foul ball; Bradley then flied out to Josh Reddick in right.

In the 7th, Ryan Brasier took over for Barnes and while he walked Bregman, who had been constantly on base all two games in spite of not getting a hit, he did not give up a run. However, Lance McCullers, who took over for Cole, did give up a run, on a walk to Betts followed by a wild pitch and two passed balls, the latter with two outs and Bogaerts batting. This made the score 6-4. In the 8th, just as he had done in Game 1 of the ALDS, Cora asked starter Rick Porcello to work as the set-up man for an inning, and he did a fine job, picking up a pair of Ks during a 1-2-3 frame. In the bottom of the inning, Devers led off with a single, then after two outs advanced to second on a pinch-hit single by Mitch Moreland. Hector Rondon replaced hard-throwing rookie Josh James on the mound, but he gave up a double to Betts that made it 7-4. Thus, Craig Kimbrel had a comfortable cushion to work with as he came to pitch the 9th, which was a good thing as his previous outings this postseason had all been shaky. It was the case again as he gave up a two-out double to Springer, uncorked a wild pitch, and allowed a single to Altuve to make the score 7-5, but Bregman flied out to the warning track in left to end the game. The two teams were tied heading to Houston.

Game 3 @ Minute Maid Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Red Sox 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 5 0 8 9 0
Astros 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 7 0
WP: Nathan Eovaldi (1-0); LP: Joe Smith (0-1)
Home Runs: BOS - Steve Pearce (1), Jackie Bradley (1)
  • Attendance: 43,102

Game 3 was a very tight contest until the Red Sox blew the game wide open in the 8th. Before that, starting pitchers Dallas Keuchel for Houston and Nathan Eovaldi for Boston both made solid starts after a rough 1st inning, but Boston won the battle of the bullpens by knock-out. Houston had made one important change to its line-up, moving the ailing Jose Altuve to DH, with Marwin Gonzalez moving in from LF to take over for him at second base, and Tony Kemp being inserted as the left fielder.

Boston took an early lead as Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi opened the game with back-to-back singles and J.D. Martinez followed with a double for a first run, then Xander Bogaerts hit a grounder up the middle for a second run. They still had a runner on third base with less than two outs, but could not bring him in as Keuchel retired the next two batters. For his part, Eovaldi allowed a one-out single to Altuve, who moved to second on a single by Alex Bregman and scored when Gonzalez singled with two outs. But after those early fireworks, things settled down as Keuchel reeled off four straight scoreless innings even though he did not strike out a single batter. There was one scare, though, when with two outs in the 3rd Steve Pearce hit a ball to the wall in left, on which Kemp made a leaping catch, his glove banging hard against the fence as he tumbled to the ground but held on to the ball. Eovaldi allowed a couple of baserunners in the 3rd without any damage, then in the 5th recorded two quick outs and had an 0-2 count on Altuve before he threw four straight balls to walk him. He soon regretted that as the red hot Bregman followed with a double to left and the hobbled Altuve circled the bases to tie the score.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch removed Keuchel after five innings and called on Joe Smith, who had been activated for this series, to pitch the 5th. After one out, he threw a pitch that was well out of the strike zone to Pearce, but the first baseman managed to golf it to deep left, as it somehow managed to stay inside the foul pole for a homer that put the Red Sox back in front. For his part, Eovaldi added another scoreless inning in the 6th. Ryan Brasier replaced him to pitch the 7th and after two outs, Altuve laid down a beautiful bunt down the third base line for a single. He moved to second on a passed ball, but Brasier managed to get Bregman to hit a soft liner to center which Jackie Bradley caught to end the threat. In the top of the 8th, Hinch decided to call on his closer, Roberto Osuna, but after one out he gave up a single to Bogaerts. Pearce hit into a force out, but things then started to unravel as Rafael Devers singled to center, Brock Holt batted for Ian Kinsler and was barely grazed by one of Osuna's pitches on his back foot to loaded== the bases. Alex Cora sent up another pinch-hitter in Mitch Moreland. He was also hit by a pitch, but this was smack in his side, and it forced in run number 4. Next up was Bradley, and he crushed one of Osuna's pitches, knowing immediately that it was gone. It fell fifteen rows into the right field stands for a grand slam, and that was the game. Cora used three different pitchers to get the last six outs, avoiding having to use his own closer, Craig Kimbrel, as the 8-2 win put his team ahead, two games to one.

Game 4 @ Minute Maid Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Red Sox 2 0 1 0 1 2 1 1 0 8 11 1
Astros 0 1 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 6 13 0
WP: Joe Kelly (1-1); LP: Josh James (0-1); SV: Craig Kimbrel (2)
Home Runs: HOU - George Springer (1), Tony Kemp (1); BOS - Jackie Bradley (2)
  • Attendance: 43,277

Game 4 was a wild one in which the Red Sox came out on top, 8-6, after both starting pitchers had been ousted early. Charlie Morton was making his first appearance of the postseason for Houston, and he appeared rusty as he gave up two runs in the 1st inning. These came on a lead-off hit-by-pitch of Mookie Betts, a walk to J.D. Martinez, a wild pitch and a two-out single by Rafael Devers. Rick Porcello was Morton's opponent on the mound, and he was making his second start of the postseason, in addition to two appearances in relief in critical situations. And although he escaped without giving up a run in the 1st, it was also clear from the get-go that he did not have his best stuff that evening. A.J. Hinch had shuffled his line-up by putting Alex Bregman in the lead-off slot, reacting to the fact that the third baseman was drawing a ton of walks so far. He was out on a ground ball this time, but George Springer followed with a single and Jose Altuve hit a ball towards the right field seats. Betts made a heroic play, leaping very high to put his glove near the ball, but he was also interfered with by some fans who knocked his glove while also trying to catch the ball. Joe West, umpiring in right field, immediately called for fan interference, a ruling which was upheld after a video review, meaning Altuve was out and Springer had to return to first base. With most other outfielders out there, this would have been a two-run homer as very few would have been able to even put their glove near enough to the ball to be interfered with.

However, Houston continued to hit Porcello hard, and they cut the lead in half in the 2nd as Josh Reddick hit a lead-off double and Carlos Correa followed with a single. Porcello managed to escape without any additional damage thanks in part to a great play by C Christian Vazquez, who leaped cat-like to snatch a bunt attempt by Martin Maldonado in foul territory near the first base line. Boston then added a run in the 3rd as Andrew Benintendi hit a lead-off double, then advanced to third on another wild pitch and scored on a double by Xander Bogaerts. At that point, Hinch replaced him with rookie fireballer Josh James, who got the final two outs of the inning. But in the bottom of the inning, Houston managed to tie the score as Springer led off with a homer, Altuve doubled off the top of the left field wall, and then scored, hobbling to the plate on a two-out single by Reddick. The Astros then took the lead in the 4th on a homer by Tony Kemp.

Houston's lead was short lived as in the 5th, Boston scored a run on another double by Benintendi and another single by Bogaerts. True to the see-saw nature of this game, Houston scored right back, with Joe Kelly having replaced the struggling Porcello on the mound. Yuli Gurriel singled with one out and with two outs, advanced to second on a wild pitch then scored on a single by Correa. It was thus 5-4 for Houston after 5 innings. James was still on the mound in the 6th, and perhaps this was asking him too much, as with two outs he allowed a double to Vazquez and a homer to Jackie Bradley. Boston was back in the lead, 6-5, and this would hold until the end even if challenged. The Red Sox added an insurance run in the 7th against Ryan Pressly on a single by Martinez, a walk to Bogaerts, and a two-out walk to Steve Pearce that loaded the bases. Lance McCullers replaced Pressly, but he walked Brock Holt as well, forcing in run number 7. They increased the lead to 3 runs in the 8th, after Houston stranded a pair of baserunners in scoring position in the bottom of the 7th. Betts singled, moved to second on a wild pitch by McCullers and scored on a single by Martinez, as none of the Astros' relievers could seemingly shut down the Sox's offense. The Astros got that run back in the bottom of the inning as Craig Kimbrel was asked to get a two-inning save. He plunked Bregman with a pitch with one out, then allowed a double to Springer, and Bregman scored on a ground out by Altuve. He then made things interesting by issuing three walks in the 9th before Bregman lined out to LF Benintendi, who dove to catch the ball inches off the ground, ending the game. Following the season, on December 22nd, the Associated Press named Benintendi's game-ending catch as the 2018 "Play of the Year" for all sports.

Game 5 @ Minute Maid Park[edit]

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Red Sox 0 0 1 0 0 3 0 0 0 4 8 0
Astros 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 5 1
WP: David Price (1-0); LP: Justin Verlander (1-1); SV: Craig Kimbrel (3)
Home Runs: BOS - J.D. Martinez (1), Rafael Devers (1); HOU - Marwin Gonzalez (2)
  • Attendance: 43,210

Due to the stomach ailment which had felled Chris Sale after his Game 1 start, it was David Price who was back on the mound for Boston on short rest in Game 5. Moreover, he had thrown about 40 warm-up pitches in Boston's bullpen the night before as Craig Kimbrel was struggling to close out Game 4. Price responded with the best postseason outing of his career, easily outpitching his rival Justin Verlander, and leading the Red Sox to a 4-1 win that punched their ticket to the World Series. It was a close and tightly-played game for the first five innings, with only a solo homer by J.D. Martinez with one out in the 3rd inning leading to a run. It was Martinez's first homer since Game 1 of the ALDS and it came at the right juncture, as it greatly increased the pressure on the Astros, who knew they had to win three straight games if they were going to defend their World Championship. But the Astros were unable to mount any kind of serious threat against Price, with two singles and a two-out double by Yuli Gurriel in the 4th, at the end of a drawn-out at-bat, their only production through the first five innings.

Boston gave the death blow to Houston in the 6th when Mitch Moreland, finally back in the line-up after having been limited to pinch-hitting duties since the Division Series because of a leg injury, hit a lead-off double against Verlander. Ian Kinsler followed with a single to right, and Rafael Devers, who had been one of Boston's most consistently dangerous hitters since taking over for Eduardo Nunez at third base a few games earlier, hit a homer to center. It was now 4-0, and the crowd at Minute Maid Park was completely deflated. Still, there were four turns at bat left for Houston, and Boston's relievers had been asked to do a lot of late. However, Price took care of the first of these innings himself, pitching a perfect 6th to complete an outstanding performance and leaving as a distant memory his history of postseason poor performances as a starter. Matt Barnes came out in the 7th and while he gave up a homer to Marwin Gonzalez with two outs, it was a solo shot. He then walked Tony Kemp, though, and that prompted Alex Cora to use a strategy he had resorted to a few times already this postseason, namely to call on one of his starters to bridge the gap to closer Kimbrel. It was Nathan Eovaldi who was called upon and he got pinch-hitter Josh Reddick to fly out to right the end the inning.

In the 8th, the Red Sox managed to put Kinsler on third base with one out against closer Roberto Osuna, who was working his 2nd inning, thanks to a double followed by a wild pitch, but Osuna struck out Devers and got Brock Holt to ground out to keep the score at 4-1. Eovaldi returned for another inning of work, and apart from a two-out single by George Springer, he did not give up anything. In the 9th, Cora had no qualms turning the ball over to Kimbrel, even if just about all of his outings this postseason had been shaky. He did walk Gurriel with one out, but got two strikeouts before getting Kemp to fly out to left to end the game. The Red Sox were on their way to the World Series. Jackie Bradley was named the MVP of the series, in recognition of his 9 RBIs over the five games, highlighted by a number of crucial hits in Boston's first three wins.

Further Reading[edit]

  • David Adler: "Sox eye redemption against Astros in ALCS: Boston looks to atone for last year's loss in Division Series", mlb.com, October 10, 2018. [1]
  • Ted Berg: "Why Astros have an edge over the Red Sox in the ALCS", USA Today Sports, October 11, 2018. [2]
  • Ted Berg: "Red Sox capture AL pennant, punch World Series ticket behind David Price's gem", USA Today Sports, October 18, 2018. [3]
  • Richard Justice: "10 biggest stars in Sox-Astros ALCS clash", mlb.com, October 10, 2018. [4]
  • Richard Justice: "Astros to test championship mettle in ALCS: Hinch says club is prepared; players eager to face Red Sox", mlb.com, October 11, 2018. [5]
  • Richard Justice: "Red Sox cut above with another AL pennant: Boston ousts defending champs to reach 4th WS since 2004", mlb.com, October 19, 2018. [6]
  • Mike Lupica: "100-plus-win titans should make for epic ALCS", mlb.com, October 13, 2018. [7]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Astros' title defense ends with ALCS loss to Sox", mlb.com, October 19, 2018. [8]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Confident Red Sox dismiss the doubters who think they don't have a chance against Astros", USA Today, October 10, 2018. [9]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Look out Dodgers, Brewers — these Red Sox look unstoppable", USA Today, October 18, 2018. [10]
  • Mike Petriello: "Who has edge? ALCS position by position: Astros, Red Sox set to battle for American League pennant", mlb.com, October 13, 2018. [11]

Related Sites[edit]

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NL Division Series Brewers (NLC) over Rockies (WC) (3-0)

NL Division Series Dodgers (NLW) over Braves (NLE) (3-1)

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