BOSTON – Make no mistake about it: if the Red Sox pitch this way for the rest of the series, they’ll make a quick exit from the ALCS.
Red Sox pitchers combined to walk 10 Astros in total, a postseason franchise record, and hit three more batters en route to a 7-2 Game 1 loss to the defending World Series champs.
The Sox managed to keep it close for much of the night, until Houston hit two home runs off Brandon Workman in the ninth inning to put the game out of reach.
Chris Sale didn’t look like himself, struggling with both his velocity and command. The lefty lasted only four innings, gave up two runs on one hit, walked four men and struck out five. He also hit a batter.
The Sox struggled at the plate, only mustering three hits in the loss.
How it happened:
With two outs in the second inning, Sale lost all command, walking two men and hitting another to load the bases. George Springer ripped a groundball past Eduardo Nunez at third base to drive in two runs.
The Red Sox tied the game in the fifth after Justin Verlander lost his command, walking three straight men, including Mitch Moreland with the bases loaded to force in a run. Jackie Bradley Jr. tied the game by scoring on a wild pitch. Andrew Benintendi struck out on a borderline pitch to leave two men in scoring position, leading to an ejection of Alex Cora for arguing balls and strikes.
Tensions flared a bit in the sixth inning when Joe Kelly hit Alex Bregman with a pitch after Bregman stepped out of the box on the previous pitch. Bregman could have been retired on a would-be double play ball that was bobbled at third base by Nunez. He came around to score on a two-out broken bat single by Carlos Correa, giving the Astros a 3-2 lead.
Houston extended the lead in the ninth to 4-2 on a solo shot by Josh Reddick off Workman before Yuli Gurriel hit a three-run homer to right to blow the game open.
The Sox will now turn to David Price as they look to avoid an 0-2 series deficit in Sunday night’s Game 2. The Astros counter with right-hander Gerrit Cole.