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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 20: Jose Altuve #27 and Michael Brantley #23 of the Houston Astros congratulate one another after they scored against the Boston Red Sox in the sixth inning of Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 20, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

In a lot of ways, Game 5 of the ALCS between the Red Sox and Astros felt a lot like a continuation of Game 4. Boston’s bats went cold as the offense failed to capitalize on a strong performance from the starting pitcher, with the bullpen ultimately allowing Houston to blow the game open on the way to a 9-1 victory.

With the win, the Astros erased any margin for error for the Red Sox. Now trailing three games to two, Boston will have to win out to advance to the World Series.

After both starters went 1-2-3 in the first, Yordan Alvarez hit the first pitch of the second inning over the left field wall to give Houston a 1-0 lead. That was the only notable offensive moment until the fourth inning, when Alvarez hit a one-out fastball off the wall, setting the Astros up with runners on first and third. Chris Sale would get out of the inning with back-to-back strikeouts, screaming as he walked off the mound.

For a minute, it looked like the Red Sox were going to capitalize on the momentum shift. Rafael Devers broke up the perfect game with a single, and then J.D. Martinez was hit with a pitch. However, a double play from Hunter Renfroe and a groundout from Alex Verdugo killed the threat before a run could cross the plate.

Instead, it was the Astros making the most of their opportunities. A leadoff walk and error by Kyle Schwarber set them up with runners on first and third, and Alvarez picked up two more RBIs with a double down the left field line to make it 3-0 and knock Sale out of the game.

Ryan Brasier didn’t fare much better, allowing an RBI double and then a two-RBI single. When the top of the sixth finally came to a close, Houston led 6-0.

Houston added another run in the top of the seventh, before the Red Sox finally answered in the bottom half with a Rafael Devers solo home run.

The Astros nearly added more in the eighth, but Hirokazu Sawamura worked his way in and out of a bases loaded jam, getting Jose Altuve to fly out to end the threat. They would continue to tack runs on in the ninth though. Working against Martin Perez for the second straight night, Yuli Gurriel hit a bases loaded two-out single to make it 9-1. The Red Sox failed to answer in the bottom half.

Houston’s starter Framber Valdez turned in the best pitching performance of the series from either team, allowing just one run and three hits in eight innings of work. Ryne Stanek got the 9th for Houston.

Although he took the loss, Chris Sale wasn’t the issue in this game. He finished with just two earned runs (one inherited) to his name in 5.1 innings, allowing three hits while striking out seven.

Offensively, the Red Sox were cold once again. They had just three hits, two of which came from Rafael Devers. Boston also committed two errors in the field, one from Kyle Schwarber and another from Hansel Robles.

Thursday will be an off day, before the series shifts to Houston for Game 6. Nathan Eovaldi is expected to start for the Red Sox in that one, even after pitching in the ninth inning on Wednesday.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.