Offenses trade blows early, but Red Sox win 7-5 over Astros to tie up ALCS at 1-1

Marwin Gonzalez and the Astros came up short. Elsa/Getty Images

Boston's offense came out firing against Gerrit Cole in Sunday night's ALCS Game 2, one-upping the Astros as the teams traded blows early to beat Houston 7-5 and tie the series up at a game apiece. 

Gerrit Cole had one of his worst starts of the season, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits over six innings with five strikeouts. George Springer tied the game 2-2 with a big two-RBI double in the second, Marwin Gonzalez hit a monster go-ahead two-run homer in the third, and Jose Altuve tried to get a rally going with an RBI in the ninth, but it would not be enough to overcome the Red Sox in Game 2. 

David Price got the game underway with a pop out of Springer, but then issued walks to Altuve and Alex Bregman to give Houston an early scoring threat. Price fought back, getting back-to-back strikeouts to keep the Astros off the board. Cole started his night in the bottom of the inning and was met with an aggressive top of the order with Mookie Betts hammering a leadoff double off the center field wall, then scoring on an RBI single to put Boston up 1-0. Cole then committed an error on a come-backer he threw over Yuli Gurriel's head, putting runners on second and third with one out before walking the bases loaded. Boston took advantage, getting another run on a single to keep the bases loaded and extend the lead to 2-0 before Cole could get out of it with a strikeout and groundout to end the long first inning.

In the top of the second, Carlos Correa ran his way on base, beating out a one-out ground ball to be safe at first. Martin Maldonado got a big hit next, a double lined down the third-base line to move Correa to third and put runners on second and third with one out. Josh Reddick came short of bringing Correa in, getting under a ball that would not get deep enough to let Correa tag, but Springer was next and delivered yet another postseason highlight, tying the game 2-2 on a double down the first-base line before Price got a strikeout for the third out. Cole had a much better second inning, getting three fly outs for a 1-2-3 bottom of the second.

Gurriel gave the Astros another hit with a one-out single against Price in the top of the third, setting up Marwin Gonzalez for a two-run bomb over the Green Monster to take a 4-2 lead. Boston threatened in the bottom of the inning, getting a one-out single then a double that Gonzalez nearly caught but fell victim to the Monster as the ball popped out as he crashed into the wall and was down for several minutes to catch his breath. With runners on second and third and one out, Cole walked the bases loaded before getting a strikeout for out number two. He then gave up a bases-clearing double to give Boston the lead back 5-4 before recording the third out.

Price bounced back from the home run he allowed in the inning prior, retiring the Astros in order in the top of the fourth. Cole did the same in the bottom of the inning, putting the top three of Boston's order down 1-2-3 on just seven pitches.

In the top of the fifth, Bregman worked a one-out walk, then Tyler White a two-out walk, ending Price's night and bringing on Boston's first reliever of the night, Matt Barnes, who got a strikeout to strand both runners. Cole had another quick inning in the bottom half, getting three up, three down to keep the game at 5-4.   

Barnes continued out of the bullpen for the Red Sox in the top of the sixth and kept the Astros off the bases with a quick inning. The Astros left Cole on the mound in the bottom of the inning, and he was able to get through another scoreless inning, sending the game to the final three frames. 

Ryan Brasier had the seventh for Boston and worked around a two-out walk to maintain their one-run lead. Cole's night was done after his six innings, and Lance McCullers Jr. was the first reliever to take the mound in the bottom of the seventh. McCullers issued a leadoff walk to Mookie Betts, who would move to second after a strikeout through resulted in a wild pitch, moved to third on a passed ball, then scored with two outs on another passed ball by Maldonado, extending Boston's lead 6-4 and resulting in another call to the bullpen, this time for Josh James, who issued a two-out walk before getting a groundout to end the inning.

Boston made the move to bring in starter Rick Porcello from the bullpen for the top of the eighth inning, and he retired the middle of Houston's lineup on a groundout and two strikeouts to put Boston an inning away from the win. James returned to the mound for Houston in the bottom of the inning and gave up a leadoff single, struck out the next two, then allowed a two-out single before he was pulled in favor of Hector Rondon who allowed an RBI double to Mookie Betts. That used up all of Rondon's short leash, bringing in Tony Sipp to face the left-handed Andrew Benintendi, who he got to pop out to end the inning. 

After going down to their final out against Craig Kimbrel in the top of the ninth, George Springer hit a double, moved to third on a passed ball, then scored on an RBI single by Jose Altuve trim the lead to 7-5. Alex Bregman was next, and just barely got under one that went to deep left field, but resulted in the final out to tie the series. 

Game 3: The series, now a best-of-five, will shift to Houston for the next three games. Both teams will have a travel day on Monday, then resume the series on Tuesday at 4:09 PM Central. The game can be seen on TBS. Dallas Keuchel has been named the starter for Houston, while Boston's starter, though not officially named, will likely be Nathan Eovaldi. The Astros will look to benefit from the comfort of their home stadium and support of their home crowd to shift the momentum back their way after the Game 2 loss. 

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Houston's bats have a hot night

Astros clobber Rangers to win series opener

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping two of three in Seattle, the Astros entered the regular season's final series still waiting to clinch their playoff berth. Luckily their matchup favored them, with four games against the 19-37 Rangers, which they have done well against in recent years. Here are highlights from the opener:

Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.

Record: 29-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA).

Astros put up 10 on Lynn 

Houston had no trouble getting acquainted with the Rangers' new stadium, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After a lengthy at-bat against Lance Lynn, Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single, then scored from first on a two-out RBI-triple by Alex Bregman. They'd double their lead in the next at-bat on an error, making it 2-0.

They extended that lead even more in the next inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning to set up a big three-run dinger by George Springer to straightaway center-field to make it 5-0. Bregman added two more RBI to his night in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a leadoff single by Michael Brantley by hitting a two-run homer to make it a 7-0 lead. Altuve would push the total to double-digits in the top of the sixth, lifting a three-run home run of his own to make it a 10- lead.

Javier with a decent start, bullpen closes out the win

Meanwhile, Cristian Javier was doing well on the mound against the Rangers. He allowed just three baserunners through the first five innings, a double in the first, a hit batter in the second, and a single in the fifth. He would falter a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then a two-run homer, then later in the inning a sac fly, making it 10-3 before Houston would turn to their bullpen. Javier's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 95 TP.

Luis Garcia would get the final out of the sixth then returned for the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff double that would score on a two-out RBI-double, making it a six-run game before Garcia finished the frame. Brooks Raley was the next reliever and notched two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Josh Reddick gave Houston two more insurance runs, joining the home run barrage with a two-run homer in the top of the inning to make it 12-4 going to the bottom half. Brandon Bielak was given a low-leverage opportunity to throw in the bottom of the ninth. He erased a two-out double for a scoreless inning to wrap up the lopsided win, lowering Houston's magic number to 1.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set between Houston and Texas will start Friday at 7:05 PM Central at Globe Life Field. The pitching battle will be Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) for the Rangers and Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) for the Astros.

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