The Boston Red Sox were one win away from a World Series berth entering play on Thursday night. After winning the first two in Houston, one more win would make a hell of a statement while winning the pennant in the process. They would have to go through the Houston ace Justin Verlander first.
After Alex Cora dipped into his bullpen heavily in Game 4 through the see-saw battle and Porcello having to grind through four innings, it was David Price who had his number called to start game 5 despite warming up for the better part of two innings while Craig Kimbrel worked attempting to close out the game and give Boston the 3-1 series lead. Boy were those two innings nerve-racking, but the Sox pulled it out.
Back to Game 5. After two long grinding innings, both clubs were still scoreless with their starters pitching a shutout. That all changed when J.D. Martinez made the most of a second chance launching a home run into the Crawford Boxes in left. This after Verlander didn’t get the call on a devastating 0-2 slider. David Price would respond with a clean 1-2-3 shutdown inning adding his 4th K of the night.
Price continued his stellar performance through his 5th inning of work as he compiled 8 K’s and allowed just 3 hits with 81 pitches. With the top of the order due up in the 6th, the Boston skipper could go either way. Fortunately for Cora, his offense made the decision much easier while providing much needed insurance runs and breathing room for the late innings.
Mitch Moreland opened the 6th with a double the other way off the LF wall before Ian Kinsler went the other way as well with a single against his former Tigers teammate. Then, a star emerged as 22-year-old Rafael Devers went deep to left into the Crawford Boxes with a three-run homer against one of the most clutch starting pitchers in postseason history. It was 4-0 Boston and that would be all for Verlander after finishing his 6th frame.
Price came back out for the bottom half and thanks to some spectacular defense by Mookie Betts with a terrific leaping catch at the wall, Price finished his 6th inning of work just over the 90 pitch mark. In line for his first postseason win as a starter, Price silenced the critics and crushed the narrative with his performance in Game 5. 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K. Fantastic.
Matt Barnes got the 7th inning and retired the first two Astros hitters before a solo shot by Marwin Gonzalez ignited the Houston crowd. The Boston reliever walked Kemp leaving Cora no choice but to go get his guy in Nathan Eovaldi with 7 outs left to record. Josh Reddick ended the inning with a loud warning track fly out to right. Six more outs.
Eovaldi re-emerged from the dugout for the 8th inning and worked a scoreless inning highlighted by a 102 mph fastball blown by Alex Bregman. Put that on the Instagram story, pal. Three more outs.
Despite working two innings and nearly unraveling one night ago, Cora had faith in his closer to work the 9th inning for the final three outs with a Fall Classic berth hanging in the balance.
Craig Kimbrel opened the 9th pumping a 99 mph fastball by Correa for the strikeout. After a walk to Gurriel, Kimbrel battled back to strike out Gonzalez before Kemp flew out to Benintendi ending the game.
Red Sox won 4-1 and won the pennant. David Price got his first postseason win as Boston dispatched of the defending champions in 5 games in their own house. Incredible.