Boston leads the series 2-1

Astros slammed again by Red Sox as Boston takes series lead with ALCS Game 3 win

Jose Urquidy's rough outing was ill-timed for the Astros in ALCS Game 3. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

"It's just a rough couple of games, it's nothing to worry about" is a common outlook on two bad games in the regular season. Throughout a 162-game stretch, it's a sentiment that teams can use without too much worry on occasion. In a best-of-seven, however, two bad games can be the last straw that ends your season.

For the Astros, after a rough Game 2 that was doomed after the first two innings, they would watch as Boston duplicated their early-game success to jump out to an insurmountable lead in Game 4 to take a 2-1 series lead in Boston.

Final Score: Red Sox 12, Astros 3

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Boston leads 2-1

Winning Pitcher: Eduardo Rodriguez

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy

Boston continues to slam Houston's starters in Game 3

If the demoralizing start to ALCS Game 2 for Houston wasn't bad enough, where they allowed two grand slams in the first two innings to the Red Sox, things started just as terrible for the Astros in Game 3 in Boston. Hoping to get some length from their starter for a change in this series, Jose Urquidy looked good in the bottom of the first, getting a 1-2-3 frame on just eleven pitches to start his night.

Things went downhill fast in the bottom of the second, though, as Urquidy would load the bases on two walks and a double as his command started failing. An RBI single started the scoring, followed by a groundball mishandled by Jose Altuve which, doubled the new deficit to 2-0. That brought Kyle Schwarber to the plate, and he blew the game open with a grand slam, Boston's third in the last two games, to make it a daunting 6-0 score.

Urquidy would get another out but allowed two more singles as he would make an early exit like the other two starters so far in this series. Yimi Garcia came in to wrap up the second, then got banged around in the bottom of the third, allowing a one-out walk, RBI single, and two-run home, extending Boston's advantage to 9-0 and continuing to diminish Houston's optimism for this game and potentially the series.

Astros try to build some momentum

The Astros had no choice but to try and start building momentum, whether in an attempt at an improbable comeback in Game 3 or to give them something with which to start Game 4 on a positive note. After two singles in the top of the fourth, Kyle Tucker would get Houston's first highlight of the night and first runs, getting a three-run homer to cut the lead back to six runs at 9-3.

Red Sox take Game 3 and series lead

Blake Taylor was the next reliever out of the Astros' bullpen, and he was able to work around a single and walk for a scoreless fourth. Brooks Raley had the fifth, and he sat down the three batters he faced in order, sending the game to the sixth. He stayed in the game for the bottom of the sixth, but after a walk and two outs would be lifted for Phil Maton, who would give up the tenth and eleventh runs on a two-run homer to J.D. Martinez, pushing the lead back to eight runs at 11-3.

Maton finished the sixth, then continued in the seventh, and had a 1-2-3 inning that frame. In the bottom of the eighth, Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever, but too would not be immune to the long ball, as Rafael Devers would pour salt in the wound with a solo homer to make it 12-3. The Red Sox put an end to things in the top of the ninth, taking a significant 2-1 advantage in the series, leaving the Astros in dire need of a win in Tuesday's Game 4.

Up Next: Game 4 of this ALCS will get started at the same time as Game 3 did, with first pitch scheduled for 7:08 PM Central from Boston. While the starting pitching matchup is still TBD, the common belief is that Nick Pivetta will get the nod for Boston, while the Astros figure to put Zack Greinke back into a starting role with their recent blows to starter depth.

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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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