They may have lost Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, but Red Sox Nation could take comfort from a good, come-from-behind 7-5 win in Game 2 on Sunday.
Starter David Price, far from invisible, was good enough to keep the Sox in the game, getting out of a two-walk, first-inning jam to be rewarded with two Sox runs in the bottom of the frame. Price immediately surrendered the lead, though, in the second inning, allowing a single and two doubles. Worse, he allowed a two-run home run by Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the third inning that had the Sox down 4-2. Boston answered back in the bottom of the third with three of their own to take and hold what would be a one-run lead until the seventh.
Despite the slim lead, Price wouldn’t qualify for the lead, exiting the game just one out shy of the prerequisite five innings of work.
What followed was 4.1 innings of solid relief by the Sox bullpen starting with Matt Barnes, who got out of a jam Price left behind and then worked all of the sixth inning, too. Barnes was followed by scoreless innings of work from Ryan Brasier and fiery Rick Porcello, who exploded with emotion after mowing down the Astros 1-2-3.
In the 9th inning, once again, close Craig Kimbrel kept the Nation on the edge of its collective seat. With a seemingly comfortable 7-4 Boston lead, Kimbrel got two quick outs before allowing a George Springer double and a José Altuve single. According to MLB.com, in his postseason career, Kimbrel has never had an outing with zero baserunners allowed when he comes into the game with a lead.
Whereas the Red Sox offense looked missing in action in Game 1 (it was just the sixth of 180 Boston postseason games since 1903 with three or fewer hits), things were more like the regular season in ALCS Game 2.
Boston pounded out nine hits on Sunday, including four doubles, none more clutch than Jackie Bradley‘s two out, bases clearing, three-RBI shot in the third. Bradley is now tied with Andrew Benintendi for the third-most RBI in 29 postseason games for Boston since 2010. Only David Ortiz (14) and Shane Victorino (12) have had more in that time.
Mookie Betts, who has had relatively little production in the postseason, walked and then scored a key insurance run in the seventh on a passed ball by Houston backstop Martín Maldonado. Next inning Betts stepped to the plate with two outs and two on and doubled to bring in another run. Betts is now 6-for-24 (.250) since the start of the ALDS with three doubles and three RBI.
Boston’s seven runs on Sunday night were their most in an ALCS since beating the Rays 8-7 in Game 5 of the 2008 series.
Mid-game came the troubling news that Red Sox ace Chris Sale was hospitalized at Mass General with a stomach illness. Sale was held overnight for observation. After Sunday’s game, manager Alex Cora said the issue arose after Sale’s work in Saturday’s game and that it hadn’t affected his performance.