Oct 16, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez (7) and relief pitcher Ryan Brasier (70) celebrate after the Red Sox defeated the Houston Astros in game two of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Ten quick takes (or observations) on the Red Sox and Astros entering Games 3, 4 and 5 at Fenway Park, where Boston is 3-0 this postseason and has won six straight playoff games overall overall dating back to 2018 …

 

  • Don't be fooled by the Chris Sale gamble

    Oct 8, 2021; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale (41) reacts to giving up a grand slam home run against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning in game two of the 2021 ALDS at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    The Sox got what they wanted in a split of the first two games, but that doesn’t mean the Game 1 plan was a success. Chris Sale faced 15 batters and allowed seven to reach base. In his last three outings covering six innings, Sale has allowed 13 hits, eight runs, five walks, a hit batter and a home run. His ERA is 12.00

  • The Red Sox flubbed away Game 1

    Oct 15, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Hirokazu Sawamura (19) reacts on the mound against the Houston Astros during the eighth inning in game one of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Is anyone else wondering why Hirokazu Sawamura was pitching in the eighth inning of a one-run game in the ALCS? The Sox obviously have limited options the deeper they get into their pitching roster, but yeesh. Neither Sawamura nor Darwinzon Hernandez should appear in any game in which the Sox trail by less than four or lead by fewer than five.

  • Dusty Baker made a mockery of Game 2

    Oct 16, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker Jr. (12) walks to the mound to make a pitching change during the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox in game two of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

    The stalling tactics by Houston manager Dusty Baker early in Game 2 were nothing short of shameful and unbecoming. What a joke. One day after leaving the mound, Houston pitcher Luis Garcia is now reportedly fine. Baseball should be embarrassed by such shenanigans.

  • Don't overlook Christian Arroyo

    Oct 15, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Christian Arroyo (39) warms up before game one of the 2021 ALCS against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

    Christian Arroyo is 7-for-23 since the start of the ALDS and has been nothing if not steady at second base, while giving the Red Sox contributions from the bottom of the batting order and steady defense. Second base was a concern because late-season acquisition Jose Iglesias was ineligible for the postseason, but Arroyo has done his part.

  • J.D. Martinez has been an October force

    Oct 16, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez (28) hits a grand slam against the Houston Astros during the first inning in game two of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Don’t look now, but J.D. Martinez postseason career in Boston has produced some pretty gaudy numbers: a .329 average, 24 hits, five home runs, 22 RBI and a .982 OPS in 19 games. His grand slam in the first inning of Game 2 might have changed the series because …

  • Xander Bogaerts has gone quiet

    Oct 16, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) sits in the dugout before game two of the 2021 ALCS against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

    Xander Bogaerts has been killing the Red Sox of late. In his last four games, Bogaerts is 3-for-17 with five strikeouts, including an uncompetitive at-bat against Luis Garcia two at-bats before the Martinez slam. Bogaerts also killed a Sox rally in the seventh inning of Game 4 against Tampa by hitting into a double play.

  • Garrett Whitlock seems unflappable

    Oct 16, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72) pitches against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in game two of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

    Garrett Whitlock has pitched in four career postseason games and the Red Sox have won them all. In 6.1 innings, Whitlock has held opponents to an .050 average and .336 OPS. His ERA is 1.42. The only hit he allowed he was an opposite-field home run to Giancarlo Stanton in a game the Red Sox led at the time, 6-1.

  • Rafael Devers isn't David Ortiz - but he's getting there

    Oct 16, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) hits a grand slam against the Houston Astros during the second inning in game two of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    Bad arm or not, Rafael Devers is batting .333 with three home runs, 10 RBI and at least one hit in each of his last six postseason games. In his postseason career, Devers is batting .311 with a .942 OPS and 24 RBI in 22 games.

  • Is Tanner Houck starting to crack?

    Oct 15, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Tanner Houck (89) pitches against the Houston Astros during the sixth inning in game one of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

    One thing to keep an eye on if you’re a Red Sox fan: Tanner Houck. In his last three innings, Houck has allowed three home runs, including a game-tying, two-run shot to Jose Altuve in Game 1 that propelled Houston to a 5-4 victory. Houck is a key part of manager Alex Cora’s bullpen plan and a bridge from starters – or openers? – to Whitlock.

  • Big game Nate

    Oct 16, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (17) walks off the field after he was removed from the game during the sixth inning against the Houston Astros in game two of the 2021 ALCS at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

    In nine career postseason appearances, Nathan Eovaldi is now 4-1 with a 2.37 ERA, 35 strikeouts and just five walks in 38 innings. The Red Sox are 8-1 in those games, the only loss coming in Eovaldi’s historic, six-inning relief outing in Game 3 of the 2018 World Series, a 3-2 Red Sox defeat in 18 innings at Los Angeles.

    You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.