Houston is one win away from advancing
Valdez deals, lineup mashes as Astros take 3-2 ALCS lead with Game 5 win over Red Sox
The playoffs of any sport are a breeding ground for dramatics, and MLB's league championship series with pennants on the line are no exception. Midway through Game 4 the night prior, the Astros found themselves in a desperate position: down 2-1 in the game and 2-1 in the series, before roaring to life to take the game late and even the series 2-2.
With the stage resetting in the ALCS with it becoming a best-of-three, either team could end Game 5 with a firm grasp on momentum. Luckily for Houston, it was them, as they would get a terrific start on the mound and continued success at the plate to put them a win away from moving on to the 2021 World Series.
Final Score: Astros 9, Red Sox 1
ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 3-2
Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez
Losing Pitcher: Chris Sale
Valdez deals in much-needed successful start
After getting a combined 20 outs from their starters in the first four games, eight of which came from him in Game 1, Framber Valdez matched that and more with a gem in Game 5. He took a perfect game into the fifth, retiring the first twelve batters he faced to keep Boston not just off the board but off the bases. The Red Sox looked to break up his rhythm in the bottom of the fifth, getting a leadoff single before getting another on base by a hit by pitch, but Valdez would induce a timely double play then finish the inning with another groundout.
In the sixth, he stranded another runner, working around a one-out double to keep his efficient night going. In the bottom of the seventh, Boston would give him his only blemish on the night, a one-out solo home run, but he would regroup to finish the inning. After a lengthy top-half, Valdez returned to the mound in the bottom of the eighth, getting one more 1-2-3 frame to cap off his fantastic outing. His final line: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 93 P.
Alvarez leads another night of potent offense for Houston
Meanwhile, Houston's offense was backing him up with plenty of run support. Yordan Alvarez led the way, starting the scoring for the game with a leadoff solo home run off of Chris Sale in the top of the second inning. After remaining a 1-0 game into the sixth, the Astros put together a big frame, much like the ninth inning in Game 4.
After a leadoff walk to Jose Altuve followed by an error to put a second runner on, Alvarez would tag Sale again, this time getting a two-RBI double to chase Boston's starter out of the game. They continued scoring against Boston's bullpen, getting three more runs with two outs in the inning, one on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel, then a two-RBI single by Jose Siri, pushing the lead to 6-0. The top of Houston's order was up again in the next inning, and after a single to start the inning and then advancing to second on an error, Altuve would score on an RBI single by Brantley, making it 7-0.
Astros take Game 5 and control of the ALCS
After Valdez allowed the solo homer in the seventh and held the 7-1 lead in the eighth, Houston padded their lead in the top of the ninth. They loaded the bases with a single, a walk, and an intentional walk, setting up a two-out two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel to make it an eight-run lead at 9-1. Ryne Stanek entered looking to finish things off in the bottom of the ninth in a quiet, much less filled Fenway Park. He would do so as the Astros go back on top in the ALCS 3-2, heading back to Houston needing one win in front of their home crowd to move on to their third World Series in five years.
Up Next: The Astros and Red Sox will have a day off on Thursday before picking up the series on Friday. While the time and place of Game 6 is known, Friday at 7:08 PM Central from Minute Maid Park, neither team has determined their pitching situation for that game.
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