Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to give the Red Sox the lead for good Wednesday, and they went on to an 8-6 victory in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.
The Red Sox took a 3-1 lead in the series. Game 5 is Thursday at 8:09 p.m. (ET)
The Astros loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth and brought their best hitter, Alex Bregman, to the plate. But his sinking liner to left field was caught by a diving Andrew Benintendi to end the game.
Below is an inning-by-inning recap of the developments in the game.
Ninth inning: Red Sox 8, Astros 6
Bottom: With Craig Kimbrel back on the mound for the ninth inning, second baseman Ian Kinsler recorded the first out with a basket catch in foul territory. Josh Reddick and Carlos Correa drew back-to-back walks before Brian McCann flew out to right (allowing Reddick to advance to third). With two outs, Tony Kemp drew a walk to load the bases. And on the first pitch from Kimbrel, Alex Bregman’s line drive to left field was caught by a diving Andrew Benintendi to end the game
Top: Tony Sipp was called in to pitch for Houston. He struck out Rafael Devers for the inning’s first out, but surrendered a walk to Steve Pearce and a base hit to Brock Holt. This led to Collin McHugh being called from the bullpen to face Sandy Leon with two on and one out. After Leon flew out to center (Pearce advanced to third on the play), Jackie Bradley Jr. was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. McHugh escaped, however, when Mookie Betts’s line drive was caught by a diving Josh Reddick in right field to end the threat.
Eighth inning: Red Sox 8, Astros 6
Bottom: With Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel in the game, Tony Kemp tried to stretch a base hit into a double, but Mookie Betts’ throw to Xander Bogaerts from right field was accurate and in time to catch Kemp for the inning’s first out. After Alex Bregman was hit by a pitch, George Springer doubled into right field to put two runners in scoring position. Jose Altuve grounded out, but Bregman scored on the play to make it 8-6. Still, Kimbrel rallied, recording the final out of the inning on a strikeout of Marwin Gonzalez.
Top: With Lance McCullers Jr. back on the mound for Hoston, Mookie Betts singled to left with one out. After Andrew Benintendi flew out to left, Betts advanced to second on a wild pitch. J.D. Martinez’s base hit up the middle brought Betts home for Boston’s eighth run of the night. McCullers retired the side by getting Xander Bogaerts to ground out to short.
J.D. Martinez with a second straight single up the middle. He is not an all-or-nothing hitter. None of the Red Sox have been. That's why they are such a significant challenge for opposing staffs.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 18, 2018
Seventh inning: Red Sox 7, Astros 5
Bottom: Marwin Gonzalez hit a leadoff single into shallow center field. With one out, Red Sox first baseman Steve Pearce dove into the Astros’ dugout attempting to catch Josh Reddick’s pop up (Pearce emerged all right, but couldn’t make the play). Reddick flew out to right on the next pitch. Carlos Correa hit a two-out double down the right field line, advancing Gonzalez to third. With that, Red Sox manager Alex Cora sent for Matt Barnes from the bullpen. Facing pinch hitter Tyler White, Barnes retired the side on a strikeout.
Brasier does a remarkable job of staying off the barrel. That wasn't the case when he was fastball-heavy in his initial callup, but he's completely reworked his usage of split/slider to become very reliable while working in the strike zone.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 18, 2018
Top: Ryan Pressly entered to pitch for Houston. With one out, J.D. Martinez knocked a base hit back up the middle. After a Xander Bogaerts walk, Carlos Correa had a chance to turn an unassisted, inning-ending double play on Rafael Devers’ ground ball. However, he missed second base with his foot, meaning that runners advanced to second and third with two outs.
Steve Pearce walked to load the bases, and Houston manager A.J. Hinch brought in Lance McCullers Jr. to face Brock Holt. After throwing a first-pitch strike, McCullers missed with four pitches to walk Holt and bring in another Red Sox run. Cora decided to pinch hit with Mitch Moreland, but McCullers was able to get him to ground out to first base to end the threat.
Sixth inning: Red Sox 6, Astros 5
Bottom: After Eduardo Rodriguez was brought in to face Tony Kemp, he was quickly pulled by Red Sox manager Alex Cora after Kemp drew a leadoff walk. Ryan Brasier entered to pitch for Boston, getting both George Springer and Jose Altuve to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
In the last three games, the Red Sox have 7, 8, and 6 runs. The number of times the Astros gave up 6+ runs in three straight games during their historically dominant regular season pitching performance: Zero.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 18, 2018
Top: Jackie Bradley Jr. belted a two-out, two-run home run after Christian Vazquez doubled to put Boston back on top.
Jackie Bradley Jr. now has driven in nine runs in this series -- 3rd most ever by a Red Sox in the LCS. Ortiz had 11 in 2004 and Manny had 10 in 2007.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 18, 2018
Fifth inning: Astros 5, Red Sox 4
Bottom: Joe Kelly entered to pitch for the Red Sox, inducing a Marwin Gonzalez groundout before Yuli Gurriel reached on a single up the middle. With two outs, Gurriel stole second despite a quality Christian Vazquez block on a pitch in the dirt. Carlos Correa made Gurriel’s steal count, hitting an RBI single past Xander Bogaerts. Martin Maldonado’s groundout to Bogaerts ended the threat.
Kelly gave up the single to Correa on a middle-middle curveball. He did not thrown any right-on-right changeups that inning. When he uses it, he typically dominates righties. He threw 4 to lefties: a ball, 2 swings/misses, a groundout. It is arguably his most important pitch.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 18, 2018
Top: With one out and Josh James still pitching for the Astros, Andrew Benintendi sent a 99 m.p.h. fastball into deep left for an opposite-field double. The next batter, J.D. Martinez, was initially called safe on an infield single, but a review revealed the Boston designated hitter was out. Xander Bogaerts’ two-out single up the middle plated Benintendi to tie the game at 4-4 before Rafael Devers struck out to retire the side.
Fourth inning: Astros 4, Red Sox 3
Bottom: Rick Porcello stayed in the game for the Red Sox, but surrendered a solo home run to Tony Kemp with one out. And after walking George Springer with two outs, he committed a throwing error that allowed Springer to move to second. Still, Porcello was able to escape without any further damage, getting Jose Altuve to pop out.
Kemp hit it to the right part of the park. His homer had an exit velo of 89.7 mph -- the lowest exit velocity of any postseason homer in four years of Statcast tracking. There were 8 homers in all of 2018 hit with an exit velo under 90 mph.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 18, 2018
Top: Astros reliever Josh James continued his dominance early in the inning, getting two quick outs, including a strikeout of Christian Vazquez on a powerful slider. Yet after he appeared to end the inning on a strikeout of Jackie Bradley Jr., the pitch was called a foul-tip and the at-bat was extended. James then walked Bradley, but Martin Maldonado threw out the Red Sox center fielder as he tried to steal second.
First caught stealing in the playoffs for the Sox. Had been 5 x 5 in the postseason and 25 of 26 going back to the regular season.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) October 18, 2018
Third inning: Red Sox 3, Astros 3
Odd first few innings for Porcello, who is actually doing a good job of staying out of the middle of the plate (you rarely see a hole like that after 40+ pitches). But even as he mixes and commands, the Astros have been all over him. pic.twitter.com/SncAvPLEkp— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 18, 2018
Bottom: George Springer led off with a solo home run to right field. Then Josh Reddick’s two-out single drove in Jose Altuve from second to tie the score 3-3.
The Red Sox have given up their first road homer of the postseason. Springer's solo shot halves the gap, the train is going, and for the first time in two days, Minute Maid sounds like it did in the 2017 ALDS.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 18, 2018
Top: Andrew Benintendi missed a center field home run by inches, settling instead of a double off the wall. After falling behind in the count, Charlie Morton recovered to strike out J.D. Martinez. Another wild pitch from Morton allowed Benintendi to advance to third. A double down the third base line from Xander Bogaerts scored Benintendi, and ended the night for Morton. Josh James entered to pitch for Houston, getting Rafael Devers to strike out on a series of pitches that all exceeded 100 m.p.h. Steve Pearce then grounded out to end the threat.
Second inning: Red Sox 2, Astros 1
Bottom: Josh Reddick opened the inning by doubling to left field off of Rick Porcello. Carlos Correa’s base hit on a breaking ball drove Reddick home to put Houston on the board. Martin Maldonado’s attempted bunt held in the air long enough for Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez to make a sliding catch. Porcello then struck out Tony Kemp on a high fastball for the second out, and Alex Bregman’s ground out to second ended the inning.
Top: On the the first pitch of the inning, Brock Holt grounded out to second. On the 2-1 pitch, Christian Vazquez popped out to second base. Jackie Bradley Jr. drew a two-out walk, but Mookie Betts skied out to centerfield to retire the side.
First inning: Red Sox 2, Astros 0
Bottom: Alex Bregman led off for the Astros against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, grounding out to Xander Bogaerts. On the first pitch he saw, Houston’s George Springer drilled a single into right-center.
Jose Altuve hit a deep drive to right field, but Mookie Betts extended his glove into the stands, tipping the ball back into play from what would have been a two-run home run. Yet his glove was hit by fans, preventing him from making the catch, so umpire Joe West called Altuve out due to fan interference.
I don't know if West is right. Looked to me like Betts went into the crowd and all is fair at that point. But he did make the call right away.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) October 18, 2018
Top: Astros starter Charlie Morton hit Mookie Betts with his second pitch to open the game. Andrew Benintendi’s slow grounder forced Astros’ second baseman Marwin Gonzalez to make a quality play, fielding and throwing to get the first out (Betts advanced to second).
Back-to-back days when Marwin Gonzalez makes excellent plays at 2B -- a position he rarely plays. The free-agent-to-be won't be as attractive as Zobrist as a free agent this winter, but you figure he'll be one of the most sought-after players on the market given versatility.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) October 18, 2018
J.D. Martinez took Morton to a full count before drawing a walk. A two-strike wild pitch to Xander Bogaerts allowed Betts and Martinez to advance a base, but Morton immediately came back with a curveball to strike out the Red Sox shortstop. A base hit from Rafael Devers with two strikes into shallow left field scored both Betts and Martinez. Steve Pearce then grounded out, ending the threat.
Sale won’t start Game 5: Chris Sale will not start Game 5 of the American League Championship Series against Houston on Thursday night. The Red Sox have determined Sale is not yet ready to pitch after being hospitalized Sunday with a stomach ailment.
“He feels weak,” Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He actually lost weight, which is hard to believe.”
The plan now is for Sale to throw a bullpen session on Thursday as preparation for Game 6 in Boston on Saturday if the series goes that far.
– Peter Abraham
MLB clears Astros: Major League Baseball said Wednesday the Houston Astros did not violate any rules by having a person monitor the Red Sox dugout from the nearby photo pit during Game 1 of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on Saturday.
MLB said it was contacted by “a number of Clubs” to express concerns about sign stealing and how video equipment was being used, and that it has reminded all playoff teams of the rules and established new practices regarding the use of video during games. It also said it considers the matter, which surfaced during Game 3 on Tuesday night, to be closed.
Astros general manager and president of baseball operations Jeff Luhnow said his team was “playing defense” and trying to ensure compliance by the Red Sox by placing someone near the Red Sox dugout.
– Rachel G. Bowers
|RED SOX (2-1)||ASTROS (1-2)|
|Betts RF||Bregman 3B|
|Benintendi LF||Springer CF|
|Martinez DH||Altuve DH|
|Bogaerts SS||Gonzalez 2B|
|Devers 3B||Gurriel 1B|
|Pearce 1B||Reddick RF|
|Holt 2B||Correa SS|
|Vazquez C||Maldonado C|
|Bradley Jr. CF||Kemp LF|
|Pitching: RHP Rick Porcello (1-0, 1.35).||Pitching: RHP Charlie Morton (2018 postseason debut).|
Game time: 8:39 p.m.
TV/Radio: TBS / WEEI.
Follow Matt Pepin on Twitter at @mattpep15.