Red Sox

Red Sox season comes to an end after Game 6 shutout, lose the ALCS 4-2 to the Astros

Members of the Boston Red Sox watch during the eighth inning in Game 6 of the ALCS. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Red Sox season came to an end on Friday, losing to the Astros 5-0 in Game 6 of the ALCS to lose the series 4-2.

For the third straight game, the Red Sox’ hitting failed to do much. Astros start Luis Garcia pitched a no-hitter in the sixth inning before Kiké Hernández hit a two-out triple. With the score 1-0 at the time, the Astros replaced Garcia with Phil Maton. On Maton’s first pitch, Rafael Devers hit a pop out to short to end the inning.

The Astros extended their lead to 2-0 in the bottom half of the sixth when Yordan Alvarez, who hit a leadoff triple, scored on a double play in which Kyle Schwarber tagged out Carlos Correa and tagged first to get out Kyle Tucker. Schwarber nearly pulled off the triple play, but his throw home to get Alvarez out was late.

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The biggest backbreaker for the Red Sox came in the seventh. J.D. Martinez got on base with an eight-pitch walk. Alex Verdugo hit a single to right that put runners at the corners with one out. Travis Shaw, who was pinch-hitting for Christian Arroyo, drew the count full, but swung-and-miss at a fastball for strike three. Verdugo took off for second on the pitch but Astros catcher Martin Maldonado’s throw was right on the money to get the strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out to end the inning.

The Red Sox went down in order in the eighth. Their challenge to tie it grew even harder following Kyle Tucker’s three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to make it 5-0.

Hernández flew out to center to start the ninth. Devers struck out swinging for the second out of the inning. And Xander Bogaerts lined out to left against Ryan Pressly, ending the season for the Red Sox and giving the Astros the American League pennant.

Nathan Eovaldi pitched a solid night for the Red Sox, going 4 1/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits, one walk, and four strikeouts. The only run he allowed came in the first inning, when Alvarez hit a double to right-center that Kiké Hernández slightly overplayed as the ball hit his wrist. As their were two outs in the inning, Alex Bregman scored from first.

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Eovaldi got in another jam in the fourth inning after he allowed a single to Bregman and a double to Alvarez. But he got out of it after striking out three of the next four hitters.

End of the eighth – Astros extend their lead 5-0

Tanner Houck gave up base hits to Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez with an out against Alex Bregman in between. His day ended after Alvarez’s hit.

Adam Ottavino came on for Houck. He was able to get Carlos Correa to hit a fielder’s choice to third for the second out, but Kyle Tucker hit an opposite-field home run to make it 5-0.

After giving up a single to Yuli Gurriel, Ottavino got Chas McCormick to pop out. THe Red Sox face a daunting five-run deficit with just three outs left.

Middle of the eighth – Astros lead 2-0

The Red Sox against went down in order in the eighth.

Bobby Dalbec came in to pinch-hit for a struggling Hunter Renfroe, but flew out to center against Ryne Stanek, who entered the game at the center of the inning.

Christian Vazquez and Kyle Schwarber drew out their at-bats six and seven pitches, respectively, but both hit infield pop outs.

The Red Sox will get one more chance to score at least two runs or else their season is done.

End of the seventh – Astros lead 2-0

Tanner Houck came back out for the seventh inning and retired the Astros in order.

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He got Chas McCormick to pop out to short, struck out Martin Maldonado, and got Jose Altuve to fly out to center.

The noticeable part of the half-inning were the changes the Red Sox made on the field. Travis Shaw took over at first, sending Kyle Schwarber to left, which moved Alex Verdugo to center, and Kiké Hernández to second.

Middle of the seventh – Astros lead 2-0

The Red Sox started to build momentum, and then they gave it all away.

Xander Bogaerts struck out to start the inning, but J.D. Martinez was able to load the count against Kendall Graveman and draw a walk. Alex Verdugo hit a single to right to put runners at the corners with just one out.

The Red Sox decided to pinch-hit Christian Arroyo for Travis Shaw, who got ahead 3-1 in the count. Graveman battle back to not only strikeout Shaw, but Verdugo took off for second on the 3-2 pitch. Martin Maldonado made a perfect throw for the strike ’em out, throw ’em out. Inning over.

End of the sixth – Astros extend their lead 2-0

The Red Sox were very, very close to getting out of the sixth inning without allowing a run following a leadoff triple

Yordan Alvarez (would it be anyone else?) began the inning with a leadoff triple against Josh Taylor, who was replaced by Tanner Houck after the at-bat.

Houck struggled with his control against Carlos Correa, eventually plunking him on his first pitch.

With no outs and runners at the corners, it looked disastrous for the Red Sox. However, Houck induced a hard-hit grounder against Kyle Tucker that went right to Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber was able to tag Correa and tap first for two quick outs. He whipped the ball home but was just late in getting Alvarez out.

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Houck got Yuli Gurriel to ground out in the next at-bat, but the Astros take a 2-0 lead heading into the final three innings.

Middle of the sixth – Astros lead 1-0

The Red Sox finally got a man in scoring position in the sixth, but it lasted just one pitch. With Phil Maton coming in for Luis Garcia, Rafael Devers swung at the first pitch he saw – an inside fastball – and popped out to short to end the inning.

Dating back to Game 4, the Red Sox are now 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position over their last three games. Yikes.

Luis Garcia’s night ends

The Red Sox are starting to get their bats on the ball against Luis Garcia, which led to the Astros pulling him right away.

Following Danny Santana’s strikeout (he pinched hit for Kevin Plawecki), Kyle Schwarber hit Garcia’s fastball to the warning track in left for a loud out No. 2.

Kiké Hernández finally gave the Red Sox their first hit of the evening, connecting on Garcia’s 96 mph fastball for a hit off the wall in left. The ball rolled all the way back to center, allowing Hernández to get to third for the triple.

As the Red Sox are in their third trip through the order now, Astros manager Dusty Baker decided that was that for Garcia in Game 6.

End of the fifth – Astros lead 1-0

Josh Taylor ended the inning with relative ease. He nearly got a double play in the first hitter he faced, but Kyle Schwarber’s throw to second to start the double play was a bit off. The Red Sox still got the out at second, but Michael Brantley reached base.

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Alex Bregman grounded out right after to end the inning.

Nathan Eovaldi finishes with a final line of one run on five hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings pitched.

Nathan Eovaldi’s night ends

Eovaldi got a quicker hook tonight than he has in any of his other starts so far this postseason.

He gave up a leadoff single to Martin Maldonado, which was his first hit of the series. He did get Jose Altuve to strike out at his cutter out of the zone, but that was that for Eovaldi. Alex Cora lifted him for Josh Taylor.

Middle of the fifth – Astros lead 1-0

For as well as Nathan Eovaldi’s been tonight, Luis Garcia has been incredible. He pitched another one-two-three inning in the fifth, getting Alex Verdugo to hit a hard line out to third to begin the inning. Christian Arroyo whiffed at three straight cutters low-and-away. Hunter Renfroe finished the inning by whiffing at a cutter in the dirt for strike three.

Garcia’s struck out six Red Sox hitters and walked just one. Oh, and he hasn’t allowed a hit yet.

End of the fourth – Astros lead 1-0

Nathan Eovaldi got himself into early trouble in the fourth, but miraculously worked out of it.

Alex Bregman led the inning off with a single and Yordan Alvarez followed up with another double, putting runners in scoring position with no outs.

Carlos Correa got the count full. Eovaldi threw a slider to him that was way out of the zone, but Correa swung anyway and missed for strike three. One out.

Kyle Tucker fouled off a pair of fastballs before he swung and missed at a curve for strike three. Two outs.

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The Red Sox decided to walk Yuli Gurriel to load the bases up and to get Chas McCormick up. The decision paid off as McCormick also struck out, whiffing at an inside curve for strike three.

Middle of the fourth – Astros lead 1-0

Luis Garcia is in control tonight.

He got Rafael Devers to hit a mile-high pop out to short and Xander Bogaerts to ground out for the first two outs. J.D. Martinez worked the count against him, but couldn’t check his swing on a cutter in the dirt for strike three.

End of the third – Astros lead 1-0

Nathan Eovaldi was a bit busier in the third, throwing 13 pitches in order to retire the side in order.

Martin Maldonado’s hitless streak in this series continued, grounding out to second to make him 0-for-12 this series.

Jose Altuve swung at the first pitch again, flying out to center to record the second out of the inning.

Michael Brantley got jammed and popped out to end the inning.

In his first time through facing the Astros’ order (plus two), Eovaldi’s thrown 30 pitches, relying mostly on his fastball, slider, and curve.

Middle of the third – Astros lead 1-0

Kevin Plawecki nearly reached third when Alex Bregman botched a routine grounder, bobbling the ball before throwing it off-line to first. However, Yuli Gurriel was able to make the grab and tag Plawecki.

Luis Garcia blew a 97 mph fastball by Kyle Schwarber to get him to strike out swinging for the second out of the inning.

Kiké Hernández ended the inning with a fly out to center.

Through three innings, the Red Sox don’t have a hit – the second game in a row that’s happened.

Luis Garcia’s night through two innings

Luis Garcia already looks much better tonight than he did in Game 2. For starters, he pitched just an inning-plus in Game 2, allowing give runs.

But tonight, his pitches have been a lot better. His average fastball is 3 mph faster tonight than it was during the season and has thrown the four hardest pitches of his career tonight, via Jeff Passan.

End of the second – Astros lead 1-0

Nathan Eovaldi had a quick second inning.

Kyle Tucker ground out to short to start the inning. Yuli Gurriel popped out to center. Chas McCormick’s fly ball to left nearly dropped for a hit, but Alex Verdugo made a sliding grab for the third out of the inning.

Despite facing eight hitters, Eovaldi’s thrown just 17 pitches so far.

Middle of the second – Astros lead 1-0

J.D. Martinez fouled off three pitches before whiffing at a 97 mph fastball for strike three to start the inning. Alex Verdugo was able to draw a walk, but was stranded at first. Christian Arroyo and Hunter Renfroe both popped out, ending the inning.

End of the first inning – Astros lead 1-0

Yordan Alvarez is killing the Red Sox again.

After Nathan Eovaldi got Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley to ground out and pop out, he gave up a single to left against Alex Bregman.

Alvarez, who recorded Houston’s first three hits and RBIs in Game 5, crushed Eovaldi’s curve to center. It appeared Alvarez’s fly to center could go the distance, but it died on the warning track. However, Hernández slightly overplayed the ball, which bounced off his wrist. With there being two outs, Bregman was able to score from first to give the Astros a 1-0 lead.

Hernández made up for it in the next at-bat, catching Carlos Correa’s pop fly to end the inning.

Middle of the first

Kyle Schwarber reached base in the most interesting way possible to start Game 6. He whiffed at Luis Garcia’s cutter for strike three, but the ball went through Astros catcher Martin Maldonado’s five-hole, allowing Schwarber to get on.

Kiké Hernández moved Schwarber over to second with a hard hit ground out into the shift.

Rafael Devers moved Schwarber to third on a fly out to center. Schwarber may have been tagged out at third had Alex Bregman secured the ball in his glove, but he didn’t.

It didn’t matter though. Xander Bogaerts grounded out to third to end the inning.

8:03 p.m.

David Ortiz isn’t giving any advice to Carlos Correa on how to beat the Red Sox.

8 p.m.

Both analysts on the Fox desk are predicting for the ALCS to advance to a Game 7. Alex Rodriguez and Frank Thomas like the Red Sox to win tonight, but Rodriguez is sticking with his Astros in seven pick.

7:50 p.m.

Nathan Eovaldi’s career postseason numbers as a starter bode well for the Red Sox chances to win Game 6.

In five career starts, Eovaldi is 4-0 with a 2.82 ERA. All five of those starts have come with the Red Sox, and they’ve won all five of those starts.

Friday marks Eovaldi’s third postseason start in Houston. Before giving up three runs in Game 2, Eovaldi gave up two runs over six innings in Game 3 of the 2018 ALCS.

7:35 p.m.

In what’s become a storyline now in the MLB playoffs, the bullpens of both teams are coming off a day of rest.

That’s key for both teams. While the Red Sox have gotten at least five innings out of their starting pitchers the last four games, they had to use five arms out of the bullpen in Game 5. However, they didn’t use any of Garrett Whitlock, Adam Ottavino, or Josh Taylor, who could be Boston’s best options for an inning in Game 6. They also didn’t use Tanner Houck, who hasn’t pitched since Game 1.

Starting pitchers

The pitching matchup is a rematch of Game 2, in which the Red Sox won 9-5.

In case you forgot, that means Nathan Eovaldi will start for the Red Sox in Friday’s game while the Astros will have Luis Garcia on the mound for them tonight.

Eovaldi was solid for much of Game 2. He threw three scoreless innings to start, retiring nine of the first 10 Astros hitters he faced. Eovaldi’s only trouble came in the fourth. After getting the first two hitters out in that inning, he gave up a walk to Yordan Alvarez which was followed by three straight hits, leading to three runs for the Astros that inning.

Eovaldi got back on track in the fifth, retiring the side in order. He ended up leaving in the sixth after giving up a hit, finishing his day with giving up three runs on five hits, one walk, and three strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings pitched.

Game 2 wasn’t Eovaldi’s only appearance in this series. He came on to pitch the ninth inning of Game 4 in relief. With the score tied 2-2, Eovaldi allowed a leadoff double to Carlos Correa but struck out two of the next three batters with an intentional walk sandwiched in between. Following a controversial non-strike three call, Eovaldi gave up an RBI single to Jason Castro. He walked Jose Altuve in the following at-bat, ending his day. He was charged for three more runs in the inning.

As for Garcia, he had a rough start in Game 2. He gave up a grand slam to J.D. Martinez in the first inning and after walking the leadoff hitter in the second, he was pulled from the game due to a right knee injury. The hitter Garcia walked scored on Rafael Devers’s grand slam, closing Garcia’s day with a line of five runs on two hits, three walks, two strikeouts, and a home run over one-plus innings pitched.

With Framber Valdez pitching eight innings in Game 4, the Astros’ bullpen is in its best shape in terms of usage since the start of the series. So, if Garcia struggles again, it wouldn’t be surprising if he got a quick hook.

Starting lineups

Following their low offensive output in Games 4 and 5, Red Sox manager Alex Cora made a minor tweak to the starting lineup. Hunter Renfroe, who’s 1-for-14 at the plate this series, was moved down to eighth in the lineup. Renfroe’s hit in either the sixth spot (vs. lefties) or the seventh spot (vs. righties) this postseason.

With Eovaldi pitching, Kevin Plawecki will start at catcher instead of Christian Vázquez. Here’s the Red Sox’ full starting lineup:

1. Kyle Schwarber 1B

2. Kiké Hernández CF

3. Rafael Devers 3B

4. Xander Bogaerts SS

5. Alex Verdugo LF

6. J.D. Martinez DH

7. Christian Arroyo 2B

8. Hunter Renfroe RF

9. Kevin Plawecki C

For the Astros, their starting lineup remains mostly the same. The only change from Game 5 is that Chas McCormick will start in center instead of Jose Siri.

Here’s the Astros’ full starting lineup:

1. Jose Altuve 2B

2. Michael Brantley LF

3. Alex Bregman 3B

4. Yordan Alvarez DH

5. Carlos Correa SS

6. Kyle Tucker RF

7. Yuli Gurriel 1B

8. Chas McCormick CF

9. Martin Maldonado

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