Houston goes up 2-0 in the series

Astros take ALDS Game 2 and commanding series lead on late offensive breakout

Astros' Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and Kyle Tucker celebrating in 2021 ALDS Game 2
Houston's bats rose to the occasion again in ALDS Game 2 to beat the Chicago White Sox. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Houston's bats rose to the occasion again in ALDS Game 2 to beat the Chicago White Sox.

With the lopsided victory in Game 1, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Friday afternoon in search of a duplicate effort to grab hold of the series. Although it would be a much more closely contested game until the latter stages, Houston would blow things open late against Chicago's bullpen, sending them to a 2-0 series lead.

Final Score: Astros 9, White Sox 4

ALDS Series (Best of Five): Houston leads 2-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Aaron Bummer

Chicago strikes first, but Houston responds

In a reversal of Game 1, the White Sox grabbed the momentum by scoring the first run in Friday's Game 2. It came on a rough first inning by Framber Valdez, who loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a hit-by-pitch. An RBI groundout, which for Valdez was lucky to be only that thanks to a solid defensive play by Jose Altuve, made it a 1-0 Chicago lead before Valdez finished the frame.

Valdez rebounded impressively in the top of the second, striking out the side 1-2-3 on 14 pitches, getting each batter to swing and miss at his curveball for strike three. Houston tagged Lucas Giolito in the bottom half, putting two on base before getting an RBI single by Kyle Tucker and sacrifice fly by Chas McCormick, taking a 2-1 lead heading to the third.

White Sox put up three in the fifth, but things get tied up again

Both teams wasted an opportunity across the bottom of the third and top of the fourth, with the Astros putting runners on second and third with one out on a Michael Brantley double and Alex Bregman single, yet both would get stranded there on quick outs after them. Chicago notched a leadoff single in their half of the fourth, but after an unassisted double play by Yuli Gurriel, Valdez would get his sixth strikeout of the day to keep the one-run lead intact.

Chicago put together a big inning with the bottom of their order flipping over to bring the top to face Valdez a third time in the top of the fifth. A leadoff single started the rally, as then with one out, they would get a single to get the tying run into scoring position. Luis Robert capitalized, getting an RBI single to make it 2-2, and prompted Dusty Baker to move to his bullpen early.

Yimi Garcia entered but would give up two more runs charged to Valdez, an RBI single by Jose Abreu, and a sac fly by Yasmani Grandal, making it 4-2 before he would finish the inning. That put a close to Valdez's pitching line on the day, not the start he wanted at 4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 69 P.

Now down two runs and with work to do, the Astros kept grinding in at-bats against Giolito in the bottom of the fifth. They worked a walk against him to lead off the frame, then with one out got another, as Chicago would move to their bullpen and eng Giolito's day at 90 four and one-thirds innings pitched. Another walk loaded the bases, bringing up the AL batting title winner of 2021, Yuli Gurriel.

Gurriel, having not recorded a hit in the first two games to that point, made his first an impactful one, sneaking a single past the infield to bring in two runs and tie the game, 4-4. That left them in prime position to go back in front, with a runner on second and one out, but a double play would end their threat.

Houston explodes for five in the seventh

Phil Maton was next out of Houston's bullpen in the top of the sixth, sitting down Chicago 1-2-3. Ryne Stanek took over in the seventh, and despite allowing a two-out single and walk, was able to get out of the inning and kept the score tied.

Jose Altuve led off with a single in the bottom of the seventh, which sparked an avalanche of Houston hits. Alex Bregman followed with a one-out single, then Yordan Alvarez followed with an RBI single to put the Astros back in front. They blew it open with two outs, with Carlos Correa lifting a two-RBI double, followed by Kyle Tucker, who put the exclamation point with a two-run homer to the Crawford Boxes.

Astros take Game 2 and a commanding series lead

Ryan Pressly, who had already warmed up to face the middle of Chicago's lineup, came in for the top of the eighth and, despite a two-out single, would get through it unscathed. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Kendall Graveman entered to put the finishing touches on things in the top of the ninth.

He wouldn't have the cleanest inning, allowing a leadoff walk followed by a single, but went on to retire the next three batters to end the game. The victory puts the Astros in the driver's seat heading into Game 3, needing just one more win over the next three games to advance to their fifth straight ALCS as they continue their journey to the franchise's second World Series crown.

Up Next: The teams will have a travel day on Saturday before picking up with ALDS Game 3 at 7:07 PM Central from Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago on Sunday. During the preparation for Game 2, the Astros named Luis Garcia, who went 11-8 with a 3.30 ERA in the regular season, as their starter. The White Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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Who's really calling the shots? Composite Getty Image.

Who is actually determining how much Jose Abreu is playing right now? Is it Joe Espada or is someone telling him from the top of the organization to play Abreu and not take him out of clutch moments?

Also, could Espada be sending a message to the front office by giving them a good look at how bad he is, and how much he's hurting the team with regular playing time?

ESPN Houston's Jeremy Branham makes that case in the video above, but his radio partner Joel Blank isn't quite buying it.

Don't miss the video above for the full conversation!

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