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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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to Kiké Hernández, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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