Grand game: Boston's 2 slams lead 9-5 ALCS win over Astros
HOUSTON (AP) — J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers helped the Red Sox have a grand old time in Houston.
Boston became the first team to slug two grand slams in a postseason game, with Martinez and Devers connecting in the first two innings of a 9-5 win over the Astros on Saturday that tied their AL Championship Series at one game apiece.
Game 3 is Monday night in Boston. It’s the first of three consecutive home games for the Red Sox, back in the playoffs for the first time since winning the 2018 World Series after downing Houston in the ALCS.
Martinez made it 4-0 with his opposite-field shot off rookie Luis García with two outs in the first. It was the first career playoff slam for the four-time All-Star, who began his career with the Astros.
“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.”
García exited with right knee discomfort after walking the first batter of the second inning. Jake Odorizzi took over, and shortly after a 13-minute delay while the right-hander warmed up on the field, Devers connected with one out for slam No. 2.
“J.D.’s swing was huge to get us on the board early, and then Raffy, same thing, another granny,” red-hot teammate Kiké Hernández said. “Has that ever happened before?”
It has now.
Hernández, who Boston manager Alex Cora referred to Friday night as “en fuego” after a two-homer performance in Game 1, remained on fire Saturday. He had two hits, highlighted by a solo homer in the fourth inning.
Hernández has been this postseason’s hottest hitter, leading all players with 16 hits, five homers and four doubles. His nine extra-base hits are also the most in these playoffs and tied a Red Sox postseason record with Mike Lowell (2007), Kevin Youkilis (2007) and David Ortiz (2004 & 2007). His five homers are also tied for most in team history with Ortiz (2004, 2013) and Todd Walker (2003).
“The importance of the game is allowing me to stay focused and stay locked in,” Hernández said.
Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi permitted five hits and three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
The Astros captured a 5-4 win in the series opener as they rallied behind homers from Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa before falling into the huge hole early in this one.
“That’s a tough team,” Cora said. “It’s never comfortable with them because they’re a swing away from getting back in the game.”
The Red Sox were up 9-0 when Houston got on the board with an RBI double by Kyle Tucker with two outs in the fourth. The Astros cut the lead to 9-3 when Yuli Gurriel followed with single to right field that scored two more.
Gurriel and Jason Castro added solo homers in the ninth off Darwinzon Hernandez before Ryan Brasier got the final out.
“At the end, it was a little too close for comfort, but we got it done,” Hernández said.
Manager Dusty Baker isn’t sure how long García will be out, but he said that he’d been dealing with this issue “on and off” but didn’t tell anyone about it.
“It wasn’t bothering him enough not to pitch,'” Baker said. “We’ll make a determination in a couple of days.”
The injury to García is another blow to a Houston team trying to reach the World Series for the second time in three years. The Astros are already reeling after an injury to staff ace Lance McCullers Jr. that kept him off the roster for this series.
They won the championship in 2017, a crown tainted by the team’s sign-stealing scandal.
When McCullers went out, Baker said the team would just have to “hit more” to absorb the loss. But now that the rotation is further depleted, it’ll be an even taller task for this powerful lineup outgunning a Boston team whose offense has outpaced everyone this postseason.
So what is he asking from his offense now?
“Do some more,” he said with a chuckle while shaking his head. “You don’t have much choice, so we just have to do some more. That’s all.”
Odorizzi was left off the Division Series roster after a disappointing first season in Houston before getting a spot in this round after the injury to McCullers. He allowed seven hits and four runs in four innings Saturday in a performance that certainly isn’t good news for a team that is running short on starters.
TOUGH UP TOP
Altuve and Michael Brantley, the top two hitters in Houston’s lineup, are a combined 2 for 17 in the series with a hit each, including Altuve’s homer in Game 1.
WARM IT UP
Odorizzi was caught off guard when he was thrust into the game and hadn’t even stretched when he was called to the mound.
“I’m sure it felt like forever for y’all, but for me that was about the fastest I can warm up,” he said. “It usually takes me 30-plus minutes.”
Cora was asked if the lengthy delay impacted his team’s focus.
“It really didn’t matter if it was an hour delay or whatever,” Cora said. “We were locked in.”
There’s a day off Sunday before Houston’s José Urquidy makes his first start this postseason in Game 3 Monday. The Red Sox have yet to name their starter but should have starters Nick Pivetta and Eduardo Rodriguez available after neither were needed in the first two games.