Roberto Osuna gave up a grand slam to blow the game open for Boston. Bob Levey/Getty Images
Being back in the confines of their home park was not enough for the Astros on Tuesday night, with the offense suffering a stagnant night and an implosion by the bullpen allowing the Red Sox to get an 8-2 victory and go up 2-1 in the ALCS.
Dallas Keuchel bounced back from a bad first inning, but it would be the bullpen that allowed Boston to take the game on Tuesday, with Joe Smith allowing a go-ahead solo home run in the sixth, then Roberto Osuna having a meltdown in the eighth and allowing five runs including a grand slam which put the game out of reach.
Boston came out swinging in the top of the first inning, getting back-to-back singles off of Keuchel to start the game. J.D. Martinez put Boston on top next with an RBI-double to make it 1-0 with no outs. An RBI-groundout allowed Boston to score another with the Astros seceding a run in place of the first out, but that moved Martinez to third, though Keuchel would get a groundout and lineout leave him stranded there and limit the damage to a 2-0 deficit. Jose Altuve gave Houston their first hit of the day with a one-out single in the bottom of the inning, followed by Alex Bregman who made it back-to-back singles. A groundball from Yuli Gurriel forced Bregman out at second but left runners on the corners which set up Marwin Gonzalez for an RBI-single to trim the lead to 2-1 before Nathan Eovaldi was able to end the inning.
Keuchel had a much better top of the second, getting Boston in order on a couple of fly outs and a groundout. Eovaldi had a similarly effective inning, getting through the bottom of the Astros order 1-2-3.
In the top of the third, Keuchel was able to get two quick outs before issuing two walks to give Boston another scoring threat, but Tony Kemp saved a couple of runs with an amazing leaping catch against the left-field scoreboard for the final out. George Springer led off the bottom of the inning with a single through the infield shift but would be out at second on a fielder's choice for the first out. Bregman worked a walk next to put runners on first and second, then both moved up a bag on a groundout, but would be stranded there with Eovaldi getting a flyout to end the inning.
Keuchel allowed an infield single to start the top of the fourth but was able to erase it with two fly outs and a groundout. Eovaldi, in the bottom of the inning, was able to put the Astros down in order on just nine pitches.
Continuing to distance himself from the bad first inning, Keuchel was able to get three vintage groundouts to get the top of Boston's order in a three up, three down top of the fifth. Jose Altuve came back from a 0-2 count to work a two-out walk in the bottom of the inning, then came all the way around to score and tie the game on an RBI double by Alex Bregman that could've been a groundout but instead made it past Rafael Devers at third base for Boston. Eovaldi would leave Bregman stranded on second to end the inning and send the 2-2 game to the sixth.
Houston went to their bullpen in the top of the sixth, bringing in Joe Smith who was only able to get one out before Boston took the lead back on a solo home run by Steve Pearce, making it 3-2. Tony Sipp came in next and worked around a walk to end the half-inning. Boston left Eovaldi in the game in the bottom of the inning, and he was able to work around a two-out infield single by Carlos Correa by getting a flyout to end the inning.
Ryan Pressly was next out of the Astros bullpen for the top of the seventh, and with a little defensive help from a great barehanded play by Alex Bregman, was able to get a 1-2-3 inning including a couple of big strikeouts. Boston finally made the move to their bullpen in the bottom of the inning, bringing in Ryan Brasier who got two quick outs before a perfect bunt-single by Altuve to get a runner on for Bregman, but Bregman would fly out to end the inning.
Trying to keep it a one-run game, Houston went to closer Roberto Osuna in the top of the eighth to face the middle of Boston's order but he fell apart and loaded the bases by hitting a batter with two outs, then hit another batter to give Boston a bigger lead at 4-2. With the bases still loaded, Osuna left a fastball in the zone for Jackie Bradley Jr. who blew the game open with a grand slam to make it an 8-2 game. Collin McHugh came in for the final out of the inning. Matt Barnes was next on the mound for Boston in the bottom of the eighth and got a couple of outs before the Red Sox went to Joe Kelly who ended the inning.
Hector Rondon took over in the top of the ninth and was able to keep the Red Sox from inflicting any more damage to send things to the bottom of the inning. Eduardo Rodriguez was the final reliever of the night for Boston, who closed out the game and the big win.
Game 4: The Astros will have to shrug today's loss off quick and try to tie the series back up tomorrow. First pitch is scheduled for 7:39 PM Wednesday night and the game can be seen on TBS. We'll get another matchup of starters from the backend of both rotations, with Charlie Morton taking the bump for the Astros while the Red Sox send out Rick Porcello. Morton will be heavily rested, which will hopefully translate to a strong pitching performance to stop the recent success of Boston's offense. The Astros will need the offense to show up tomorrow and get a win to turn the ALCS into a best-of-3.
The only cheers Houston guard L.J. Cryer heard in his return to Baylor came when he missed a 3-pointer on the first shot of the game for the second-ranked Cougars.
Cryer, who as a freshman three years ago was part of Baylor’s only national championship, made six free throws in overtime and finished with 15 points as No. 2 and Big 12-leading Houston beat the 11th-ranked Bears 82-76 on Saturday after blowing a 16-point halftime lead.
“I was expecting the boos and stuff like that, like not welcoming,” said Cryer, who had no turnovers while playing nearly 43 minutes.
“Really proud of L.J.,” Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson said. “L.J. was in a tough environment today. ... He showed his maturity because he just played solid.”
The Cougars (24-3, 11-3 Big 12) never trailed in regulation and appeared to win the game on a long 3-pointer by Jamal Shead at the buzzer. But replay showed the ball was still in his hands when the clock ran out.
All six of Cryer’s free throws came in overtime, the first two with 3:06 left to put the Cougars back ahead to stay after falling behind for the first time. After playing 70 games the past three seasons for Baylor before transferring to Houston, he got booed loudly every time he touched the ball early.
Emanuel Sharp had 18 points to lead the Cougars. J’Wan Roberts had 17 points and eight rebounds, while Shead had 12 points and 10 assists.
“Everybody contributed to this win, we’re all responsible for this win,” Shead said. “This was a really good team win.”
Ja’Kobe Walter scored a game-high 23 points for Baylor (19-8, 8-6), and RayJ Dennis had 21. Jalen Bridges had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Jayden Nunn scored 11 points.
The Bears didn’t tie the game for the first time until Yves Missi, their 7-foot freshman, made a layup while being fouled with 4.4 seconds left in regulation to make it 69-all. Roberts rebounded Missi’s missed free throw, and Shead was just a tick late in ending the game without overtime.
Baylor opened the second half with a 12-0 run while Houston missed its first eight shots. Bridges scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, including nine in a row for the Bears in the final 5 1/2 minutes of regulation.
The Cougars led 41-25 at halftime after scoring 13 points off 11 Baylor turnovers. They made 10 of 11 shots in one stretch, which Roberts started by assisting on consecutive baskets before ending it with a jumper that made it 27-10.
“We just felt like they brought it to us in the first half. They’re easily the most physical team that we’ve played so far and I feel like we were a little bit taken back,” Bridges said. “And we just came out in the second half trying to punch them back.”
Bears sophomore guard Langston Love, their sixth player averaging double-figure scoring going into Saturday, was out of the fourth time in five games because of a leg injury. He played 15 minutes at BYU on Tuesday. ... Sampson revealed after the game that Cougars junior guard Ramon Walker, who got hurt in practice this week, will miss the rest of the season because of a torn meniscus.
It was their first meeting as Big 12 foes, and first since the Final Four three years ago when Baylor beat Houston in a semifinal game on way to winning its first national championship.
Some consider Houston the best team in the country, even though reigning national champion UConn is No. 1. The Cougars won both games this week against top-11 teams, also beating sixth-ranked Iowa State. Baylor is certain to drop several spots, even though its consecutive losses are to Top 25 teams.
Houston is home Tuesday night against Cincinnati.
Baylor plays Monday night at TCU, which won 105-102 in triple overtime on Jan. 27 to become the first and only other opposing team to win at Foster Pavilion.