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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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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