Houston moves on

Astros advance to fifth-straight ALCS after taking ALDS Game 4 in Chicago

Houston's offense backed up strong pitching in ALDS Game 4 to punch their ticket to the ALCS. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

With the disappointing loss in Game 3 and an extra day to think about it due to a rainout on Monday, the Astros were likely anxious to turn the page to Game 4 of the ALDS on Tuesday afternoon. They indeed played to their strengths, overcoming an early run by the White Sox by scoring seven unanswered to dominate the game and finishing off the series to advance to the ALCS.

Final Score: Astros 10, White Sox 1

ALDS Series (Best of Five): Houston wins 3-1

Winning Pitcher: Yimi Garcia

Losing Pitcher: Carlos Rodon

Chicago scores first, but Houston pulls away

After a scoreless first inning, the White Sox, thanks to Gavin Sheets, tried to grab the momentum in the bottom of the second. Sheets launched a one-out solo homer against Lance McCullers Jr., who, despite a two-out walk, would still rebound to keep the damage to one run in the frame. Houston's offense responded in the top of the third, getting to Carlos Rodon, who looked dominant with high velocity in the first inning but started to fade.

The rally that inning started on a one-out hit-by-pitch to Altuve by Rodon, followed by two-out walks to Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez. Carlos Correa, who continues to thrive in the spotlight, put Houston in front with a two-RBI double, making it 1-2. After a scoreless bottom of the third by McCullers Jr., the Astros offense tacked on three more with another multi-run inning in the fourth, getting an RBI single by Martin Maldonado and a two-RBI double by Alex Bregman, pulling away at 5-1.

Houston's starter had his longest inning in the bottom of the fourth, using up 26 pitches but keeping the White Sox at bay by erasing a leadoff single with a double play, then stranding a two-out double and walk. That would be the end of the line for him, as Dusty Baker would make the early switch to his bullpen starting in the bottom of the fifth. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 73 P.

Houston's bullpen holds as more insurance runs come in

Houston's first reliever was Yimi Garcia in the bottom of the fifth, sitting down the White Sox in order, keeping the lead at four runs. Michael Brantley added another insurance run in the top of the sixth, scoring Chas McCormick, who led things off with a single. Phil Maton took over on the mound in the bottom of the inning, and like Garcia in the frame prior, was able to get through it in 1-2-3 fashion.

In the bottom of the seventh, Maton remained in the game, getting two outs before allowing a two-out single, prompting a move to Ryne Stanek. Stanek would get the third out on four pitches, then Jose Altuve hustled to another run for Houston in the top of the eighth. He reached and advanced to second on an error, then took third on a wild pitch. That set up the RBI for Brantley, who singled up the middle to make it a six-run game at 7-1.

Astros advance to the ALCS

Kendall Graveman had the eighth for Houston's bullpen, and after a two-out hit-by-pitch and lengthy fallout from it from Tony La Russa, was able to get through a scoreless inning. Altuve put the exclamation point on the blowout in the top of the ninth, taking advantage of two on base against Liam Hendricks by crushing a 416-foot three-run home to make it 10-1.

With two days off in front of them, the Astros put in their closer, Ryan Pressly, in the bottom of the ninth to close things out. Despite a leadoff single, he would get through it and maintain the nine-run lead, giving Houston the series victory. The Astros become the third franchise to reach five league championships in a row, joining the A's in the 1970s and the Braves in the 1990s.

Up Next: With the Red Sox upsetting the Rays in their ALDS, the Astros will have home-field advantage in the ALCS, with Game 1 on Friday and Game 2 on Saturday being hosted at Minute Maid Park. The start times and pitching matchups for those games will be determined in the coming days.

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