HOUSTON — Apparently, all good things really do come to those who wait. Just ask the Red Sox
When Houston Astros starter Luis Garcia operated at the pace of a three-legged turtle in the first inning of Game 2 of the ALCS on Saturday, the Sox worked two walks to load the bases and J.D. Martinez belted a grand slam.
Garcia then walked the leadoff hitter in the second and came out of the game with a sore right knee. Or so the Astros said.
That gave Jake Odorizzi all the time he needed to warm up, which was nearly 15 minutes. Even the fans at Minute Maid Park became agitated by the delay.
The ever-patient Sox again loaded the bases, and this time it was Rafael Devers who delivered the slam. That made the Sox the first team in postseason history to hit two grand slams in the same game, and they did it in two innings.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a grand slam in the first and second,” 72-year-old Astros manager Dusty Baker said.
The remainder of the game was played because that’s what the rules dictate. It proved to be a 9-5 victory for the Sox. The series, tied 1-1, shifts to Fenway Park for three games with the Sox three wins away from their fifth pennant this century.
Game 3 is at 8:08 p.m. on Monday night.
“Going home and guaranteed three games, that’s very important,” Sox manager Alex Cora said. “Now it’s the best out of five, and we play three games at home.”
Postseason terror Kiké Hernández also homered for the Sox, who rebounding convincingly from a 5-4 loss in Game 1. Houston native Nate Eovaldi pitched into the sixth inning to record the victory.
He waited through a 21-minute top of the first inning to throw 19 pitches. Then, it was a 41-minute break by the time the top of the second inning was over.
Eovaldi retreated to the clubhouse, where he threw a ball into a net normally used for batting practice, ran up and down some stairs, and pumped out a few reps in the weight room.
“The timing was nice since it was the very beginning of the game. I wasn’t too deep into my pitch count,” Eovaldi said.
The workout worked out as Eovaldi allowed three runs on five hits over 5⅓ innings with one walk and three strikeouts. He is 2-0 with a 3.45 earned run average in three postseason starts this season, and for his career is 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA. The Sox have won seven of those eight games.
Eovaldi threw only 81 pitches. That should leave him with plenty in the tank for his next appearance, potentially in relief.
The run support was certainly welcome.
Kyle Schwarber doubled to right field to start the game. Devers then walked, as did Alex Verdugo with two outs. Martinez didn’t wait. He took a cutter off the plate, then hammered a high fastball the other way to right field for his eighth postseason home run.
Martinez has 28 RBIs in 26 postseason games. With the Red Sox, it’s 22 RBIs in 19 games.
“That situation, the pressure is on him, it’s not on me to come through there,” Martinez said. “It’s the first inning. He has bases loaded. I’m trying to tell myself that, trying to stay relaxed and just looking for a pitch so I can just put a barrel on it.”
The second inning was more of the same. After Garcia walked Kevin Plawecki and left the game, Christian Arroyo singled once Odorizzi finally decided he was ready.
“It was weird. I’ve never seen it that way,” Cora said. “But understanding that he needs to be ready and to avoid injuries.”
Hernández singled to load the bases, and Devers drove a cutter down the line in right field for his sixth postseason homer. Four have come against the Astros.
“It felt really good,” Devers said. “Obviously, Houston, they’re a really good team, and we know we have to score a lot of runs in order to beat them.”
The only run the Sox scored the final seven innings came on Hernández’s homer to left field in the fourth inning. He is 16 of 32 in seven playoff games this season, with nine RBIs and nine runs scored. Hernández’s five home runs tie a franchise record for a single postseason. The others were Todd Walker in 2003, and David Ortiz in 2004 and ′13.
Adam Ottavino, Garrett Whitlock, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Ryan Brasier came out of the bullpen. Hernandez allowed two home runs in the ninth before Brasier finished the game.
The Sox are 16-5 in postseason games under Cora, 5-0 after a loss. The Sox have outscored teams, 55-23, in those five games.