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HOUSTON — One, two, three — poof!

Just like that, in the last three games of the ALCS the Red Sox offense completely vanished in front of the baseball world’s and their very own eyes in what truly qualified as some David Copperfield, David Blaine, Penn and Teller-caliber wizardry.

When the breeze from the whiffs and walks back to the dugout died down, the Red Sox, who hit .111 (10-for-90) and were outscored 23-3 over Games 4, 5, and 6, didn’t know what hit them, pun very much intended.

”Man, I wish I had answers for that,” said Xander Bogaerts after the 5-0 loss and before heading for an extended Aruban holiday. “Coming here, we chased some pitches, me included. It didn’t work out.”


The last time the Red Sox played in Minute Maid Park, they mocked its confines and cue-card responding fans after just two innings by slugging a pair of grand slams and rolling to a 9-5 Game 2 victory that evened the series and gave the Red Sox home field advantage.

The next game, at Fenway, featured a 12-run, 11-hit-a-palooza that staked the team to a 2-1 lead that felt much, much larger than it looked.

”We were rolling — one through nine, guys were just on fire, we had guys who were having historic stretches — Kiké, J.D. coming back from that injury in Tampa, he was hot ever since,” said Bogaerts. “(Rafael) Devers, also. (Kyle) Schwarber. It just felt like one through nine everyone was kind of locked in, but it just went south from there.”

The Red Sox believed in the sturdiness of their approach and results in the first three games, while the Astros pitching staff went to work the next three games trying to shatter it.


Houston’s work paid off.

The Red Sox could not respond in kind. Red Sox hitters chased pitches they normally would not offer at, they could not barrel balls and the outs and strikeouts just kept piling up.

Friday night, the effort was epitomized when Devers swung at a first pitch offering from reliever Phil Maton, who followed nearly untouchable starter Luis Garcia. Hernandez was standing on third base after breaking up Garcia’s no-hit bid with a two-out triple. Devers, who led the Red Sox with 12 RBI this postseason and should by no means be blamed for the late-term offensive dysfunction, popped up the pitch to end the first of just two threats on the night.

The very next inning, a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play from the Astros ruined the last remaining scoring opportunity posed by the Red Sox hitters.

Manager Alex Cora had spoken on Thursday about how the Red Sox lineup would adjust to the adjustments that the Houston pitchers had made.

Late Friday night, he conceded they had failed to do so.

”It was halfway through Game 4, I felt that they were changing, and they used the fastballs in different spots, their righties, especially their righties, and we just weren’t able to catch up with the fastball,” said Cora. “They expanded, obviously, with the sliders. They always do that. But I do believe halfway through that game, we weren’t able to catch up with the fastball, and that’s why we didn’t score runs.”

Some will recall that Hernandez seemingly was well on his way this October to supplanting David Ortiz as the greatest hitter in Red Sox postseason history. Through the first eight games of this postseason, including the first three of the ALCS, Hernandez was hitting .500 (18-for-36) with five home runs and 9 RBI. His ALCS MVP trophy was waiting to be engraved.


Then came the reality show of Houston pitching, which held Hernandez to a .154 average (2-for-13) with no homers and no RBI over the final three games.

Again, Hernandez’ explanation for the off-the-cliff offensive results lacked clarity in determining a cause other than the acknowledgement that Houston simply out-prepared and out-executed the Red Sox.

”Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the other team, they made a quick adjustment,” said Hernandez. “They adjusted to us and we were not able to be as quick as they were at making the adjustment ourselves. That’s why we are here talking about this. We weren’t able to score some runs the last three games. They have a really good ballclub over there.”

The Astros’ ballclub was better than the Red Sox ballclub this season.

If you don’t believe it, just look at the disappearing act the Red Sox offense pulled at the end.

As fleeting as it was, that’s how long its memory will linger.

Michael Silverman can be reached at michael.silverman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeSilvermanBB.