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.
|Irving thrives on ´peace´ of being in the zone|
|NBA wrap: Kyrie Irving sizzles as Celtics beat Raptors in overtime|
|Jimmy Butler aims dig at Timberwolves following 76ers home debut|
|Ravens´ Flacco doubtful, Jackson could start|
|Ramsey reiterates he wants to stay with Jaguars despite cryptic tweet|
|We tried to hit a home run and it didn´t work out - D´Antoni explains Carmelo exit|
|Rodgers: Packers still believe they can make playoffs|
|Mahomes hoping to ketchup to Heinz´s touchdown target|
|Rockets rout Warriors as Green goes scoreless|
|Seahawks rally past Packers|
|Lakers G Rondo to miss 4-5 weeks|
|Durant is done with questions about Green|
|Betts named American League MVP|
|Yelich named National League MVP|
|This Week in U.S. Sports: LeBron passes Chamberlain, Williamson looking like he is next|
|Rockets ´parting ways´ with Anthony|
|Green: Altercation with Durant will make Warriors stronger|
|MLB commissioner Manfred gets five-year extension|
|LeBron thinks back to his roots after latest milestone|
|Walton salutes LeBron after he surpasses Chamberlain|
|Rondo to miss ´a few weeks´ with broken hand|
|WATCH: The baskets that moved LeBron James up the all-time NBA scoring list|
|LeBron moves into fifth on scoring list, 76ers fall in Butler´s debut|
|LeBron James into top five NBA scorers: Five quotes from league legends on his greatness|
|LeBron passes Chamberlain for fifth on all-time scoring list|
|Butler: 76ers need time to gel|
|Raptors fans give former coach Casey standing ovation in return|
|Betances wants Yankees to sign Machado|
|Rays´ Snell, Mets´ deGrom win Cy Young Awards|
|Dinwiddie to debut Stan Lee-inspired shoes against Heat|
|Iberostar Tenerife and Segafredo Virtus Bologna stay perfect in BCL|
|Red Sox give manager Cora contract extension through at least 2021|
|Warriors´ Curry will not play during three-game road trip|
|TJ Watt hopes to win NFL sacks race with brother JJ|
|Steelers´ Roethlisberger texted Bell but ´didn’t hear back´|
|Durant keeps details of Green spat ´in-house´ but envisages resolution|
|Warriors drop Hawks as Green serves suspension|
|Former NBA star McGrady says Carmelo Anthony should retire|
|Celtics´ Smart: We have to look at ourselves in the mirror|
|Melvin, Snitker win manager of the year awards|
|Warriors´ Green suspended for Hawks clash|
|Ludwigsburg stun high-flying Murcia in BCL|
|Rams v Chiefs moved to LA due to Mexico City field conditions|
|Bell fails to report to Steelers, will sit out rest of season|
|LeVert avoids need for surgery, should return this season|
|All I ever wanted to do is win, says Sixers signing Butler|
|Hue Jackson joins Bengals staff as ´special assistant´|
|It´s just team spirit - Livingston not worried by Durant-Green exchange|
|Nets offer support to LeVert following serious leg injury|
|Anthony Davis leads Pelicans, Clippers hold off Warriors in OT|
|Giants too good for 49ers in crunch time|
|Thibodeau discusses Butler trade: We thought this was the best deal for us|
|Acuna, Ohtani win rookie of the year awards|
|LeBron James on Lakers’ early season struggles: ‘I almost cracked’|
|Rams WR Kupp out for season with torn ACL|
|Jimmy Butler trade: 76ers acquire Timberwolves star in blockbuster deal|
|Saints sign Marshall following Bryant injury|
|Very troubling times - LeBron James alarmed by gun violence|
|Rockets GM denies Anthony will be waived|
|Norman says Washington home crowds ´just don´t really care´|
|Bucks beat Nuggets to finish gruelling schedule stretch|
|Titans stun Patriots, Browns upset Falcons|
|Browns´ Chubb relishes record-breaking performance: It definitely is very special|
|Fitzgerald overtakes Owens in career receiving yards|
|Brees leapfrogs Favre on all-time list for touchdown passes|
|Jones fastest in NFL to reach 10,000 receiving yards|
|Mahomes breaks Chiefs´ single-season TD record|
|Embiid and Simmons excited at Butler arrival|
|The Sunday Seven - 7 Key Opta facts for NFL Week 10|
|LeBron James among Lakers to be affected by Sacramento smoke|