The Boston Red Sox are one win away from the World Series after an 8-6 victory over the Houston Astros in game four of the American League Championship Series (ALCS).
Boston got production from up and down their lineup as Jackie Bradley Jr. once again belted a home run to give the Red Sox a much-needed boost in a key moment.
Rick Porcello was not great, but he was good enough to keep the game tied and then the middle of the bullpen did the rest. Craig Kimbrel was shaky but he locked up the game with a two-inning save.
He almost did not, though, as Andrew Benintendi had to make a game-saving diving catch with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning to rob Alex Bregman of a hit.
Red Sox, not Astros, look like defending World Series champions
Championship teams do the little things right. They limit baserunners. They fight when they do not have the best stuff on the mound. They throw strikes when their team have a lead.
The Red Sox have done that all series. The Astros have not.
In game four, the Red Sox looked like the defending World Series champions while the Astros tossed multiple wild pitches, ran into an out at second base, took all five pitches in an at-bat – including a called third strike with runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh – and walked a man with the bases loaded.
Meanwhile, Boston went five for 12 with runners in scoring position, tallied eight two-out RBIs, allowed just one run with their bullpen from the fifth through the seventh innings and went head-over-heels into a dugout trying to catch a foul ball. The Red Sox played like a championship team in what was a championship game on Wednesday. The Astros did not.
Replay impacts the series again
The ALCS has been changed by the use of instant replay and not in a good way. In game three, Astros left fielder Tony Kemp made what looked to be an unbelievable catch on a fly ball off the bat of Steve Pearce, but upon further review, there is a distinct possibility the ball grazed the wall and was not actually a catch. However, because the call on the field was an out, the ruling was not changed. There was no explanation to fans watching the game.
In game four, the ruling was even more impactful. On a fly ball off the bat of Jose Altuve in the first inning, fan interference was called on a ball that was up in the stands in short right field. A two-run homer was taken away. Upon further review, the argument can be made the fans never reached out onto the field, so they had a right to the ball. But the call on the field was interference and was not overturned. Again, no explanation was given.
These calls, whether right or wrong, completely revealed the flaw in MLB's replay system. First, to offer no explanation in the stadium as to why a call is or is not overturned is not helpful for umpires or fans. Second, there may not be enough cameras on the field to confirm whether a ball hit close to the wall, is actually over it, or against it. MLB cannot appropriately review calls without the necessary tools.
Relying too much on trends can backfire
Baseball is a simple game. If a hitter cannot hit a pitch, keep throwing that pitch. If a pitcher cannot throw strikes, wait until he has thrown you one. However, while a hitter may have trouble with a pitch most of the time, they can have a lot more success with it when they know it is coming. The Astros got obsessed with a game plan and it cost them.
Bradley does not hit finesse pitchers or the change up well. Bradley hit .205 this season against finesse guys and is a .170 hitter against the changeup in his career. Houston took advantage of that early in game four, starting him with breaking pitches early in the game and then changeups in his second at-bat.
So Houston thought they would do the same thing to Bradley in his third time at the plate. What resulted was a changeup from Josh James to Bradley on the first pitch. He did not miss it, taking it out to right field for his second home run and eighth and ninth RBIs of the series.
|Colts owner Jim Irsay buys John Lennon´s ´Sgt. Pepper´ piano|
|People are having a free shot - Seibold defends young Broncos|
|Zidane must make Real Madrid hungry again - Seedorf|
|Young dropped as Solskjaer makes three changes for Everton clash|
|Lemar hopeful Griezmann stays at Atletico|
|Khan refutes Crawford´s accusations of quitting after low blow|
|Deciding doubles triumph sends Australia into Fed Cup final|
|Pakistan call up Yasir with Shadab laid low by virus|
|Wellington Phoenix 3 Melbourne City 2: Krishna´s last-gasp hat-trick boosts top-four hopes|
|Oh, for real? I didn´t know! - Harden unaware of early shooting woes|
|Solskjaer warns Alexis Sanchez Man Utd won´t carry players|
|Dele Alli thinks Tottenham´s Champions League run has Russian roots|
|Leilua brace downs Broncos as Raiders keep pace at NRL summit|
|Spalletti hails Inter´s Roma draw as ´precious´|
|Stuttgart had to make Weinzierl decision - Hitzlsperger|
|Tucker´s homer on MLB debut powers Pirates to fifth straight win|
|76ers win thriller, Rockets overcome Harden struggles to move 3-0 ahead|
|Crawford retains title by TKO after low blow stops Khan|
|MLS Review: De Boer´s Atlanta woes continue, Nani lifts Orlando|
|Garcia beats Granados via seventh-round TKO|
|Muller: Bayern feeling title pressure|
|He parks the bus right in front of De Gea – Van Gaal critical of Solskjaer again|
|Red Sox star Eovaldi on injured list with elbow issue|
|We real cool – Lillard plays down Westbrook feud|
|Embiid trolls Warriors after 76ers take 3-1 lead over Nets|
|Allegri dismisses criticism after Scudetto success|
|Solskjaer warns of no quick-fix for Man United in transfer market|
|Klopp a hermit amid Liverpool title hype|
|Dudley is ´a nobody´ – 76ers star Embiid|
|Johnson leads RBC Heritage heading into final round|
|Pogba can´t always have things his own way, says Solskjaer|
|Whyte to face unbeaten Rivas in July|
|Clermont hold off Harlequins to reach Challenge Cup final|
|Barcelona have to suffer to win – Valverde|
|Allegri staying at Juventus and targeting improvement|
|Man United win made Sociedad tough, says Barca´s Jordi Alba|
|Nadal: I probably played one of the worst matches on clay in 14 years|
|Sarri: Chelsea´s League Cup run on par with Tottenham´s heroics|
|Barcelona 2 Real Sociedad 1: Lenglet and Alba bring title closer|
|Inter 1 Roma 1: Perisic answers El Shaarawy stunner|
|La Rochelle edge past Sale to book Challenge Cup final berth|
|Capitals enjoy home comforts again to reign over Kings XI|
|Ronaldo proud of first Serie A season as Juventus celebrate title triumph|
|Ronaldo confirms Juventus stay after Serie A success|
|He´s showing great commitment - Gracia hails match-winner Deulofeu|
|Parker and Fulham ´discussing plans´ for next season|
|Juventus 2018-19: Ronaldo´s goals key to eighth successive Scudetto|
|I´m thankful that I´m playing for them - Vunipola grateful for support at Saracens|
|Newcastle United 3 Southampton 1: Perez hat-trick all but seals safety|
|Juventus 2018-19: Bianconeri join Europe´s fastest title triumphs|
|That point could make the difference - Ryan salutes resolute Brighton|
|Atletico Madrid defender Gimenez dislocates toe in Eibar win|
|Kovac: Patience key to crucial Bayern victory|
|Juventus 2018-19: How the Old Lady won an eighth straight Serie A title|
|Juventus 2018-19: The AC Milan team last to rule before the Bianconeri´s dominance|
|Juventus 2 Fiorentina 1: Bianconeri bounce back to seal Scudetto|
|Juventus seal eighth successive Serie A title|
|Pellegrini blames officials for more dropped West Ham points|
|Valencia appears to confirm Manchester United exit in Instagram post|
|Brumbies hold firm to see off Stormers|
|Halep on form but France draw level in Fed Cup semi|
|Pochettino refuses to criticise officials after missing out on penalty|
|Farrell guides Saracens into Champions Cup final|
|Eibar 0 Atletico Madrid 1: Lemar strikes late at Ipurua|
|Fabulous Fognini ends Nadal´s Monte Carlo winning streak|
|Bournemouth 0 Fulham 1: Mitrovic on target as Parker´s men win again|
|West Ham 2 Leicester City 2: Last-gasp Barnes strike grabs dramatic draw|
|Huddersfield Town 1 Watford 2: Deulofeu double lifts Watford into seventh|
|Wolves 0 Brighton and Hove Albion 0: Hughton´s men stop rot with stalemate|
|Now I am a genius – Guardiola applauds match-winner Foden|