ALCS GAME 5: RED SOX 4, ASTROS 1

Season over: Red Sox continue to dominate, beat Astros 4-1 in Game 5 to clinch AL pennant

Justin Verlander had a rough outing. Elsa/Getty Images

Boston's offense continued to overpower the Astros in Game 5, backing up a dominant start from David Price to win Game 5 of the ALCS 4-1, eliminating the Houston Astros from the 2018 postseason and sending the Red Sox to the World Series.

The Astros offense simply had no answer for Price in Game 5, while the Red Sox were able to do damage against Justin Verlander to win the series. Verlander went six innings, during which he allowed two home runs, one a solo shot to J.D. Martinez and the other a game-defining three-run home run by Rafael Devers. Marwin Gonzalez hit a solo homer late, but it would be a futile run in the loss.

Verlander got the win-or-go-home Game 5 started in the top of the first and was able to do something the Astros hadn't done in the three previous games; keep the Red Sox off the scoreboard in the first inning. Verlander was able to get two quick pop outs and then work around a two-out walk to get through the first frame. Jose Altuve got the first hit of the night in the bottom of the inning, a two-out single, but would be left stranded there with Price striking out Carlos Correa to end the inning.

A rare error by Alex Bregman allowed Boston to get a runner on first in the top of the second, then Boston got a two-out single to put runners on first and second, followed by a walk to load the bases, but Verlander was able to strike out Mookie Betts to strand all three. Yuli Gurriel led off the bottom of the inning with a single but would be unable to advance with Price retiring the next three in order.

J.D. Martinez, after getting saved by the umpire on what should have been a strike three, took the next pitch to the Crawford Boxes to give Boston a 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Price meanwhile made it a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning to send things on to the fourth.

Verlander was able to get a three up, three down inning of his own in the top of the fourth. Gurriel made it 2-for-2 on the night with a two-out double in the bottom of the inning, but Price would get a strikeout to strand him again.

Martinez continued to hit Verlander well, getting a two-out single in the top of the fifth, but Verlander would erase that with a lineout to end the top half. Price continued to match Verlander inning for inning, putting the Astros down in order yet again in the bottom of the inning.

Verlander allowed a leadoff double to start the sixth, then a single to put runners on the corners with no outs. That set up Rafael Devers who delivered for Boston with a huge three-run homer to make it 4-0 Boston. Houston continued to get shutout on offense in the bottom half of the inning, with Price adding another 1-2-3 inning to his dominant night.

Verlander's night was done after the four-run six innings of work, and first out of Houston's bullpen was Roberto Osuna, who had a quick inning to keep the score at 4-0. The bottom of the seventh also marked the end of the line for Price, who would end his night with six terrific shutout innings for Boston. Matt Barnes was the first reliever for the Red Sox and watched the lead be trimmed down to three with a two-out solo home run by Gonzalez to make it a 4-1 game. Kemp was next and worked a walk, resulting in another call to the bullpen to bring in Game 3 starter Nathan Eovaldi, who would get the third out.

Osuna made it a multi-inning appearance by returning in the top of the eighth and worked around a one-out double to keep the lead at three runs. Eovaldi stayed in the game for Boston in the bottom of the inning and worked around a two-out single by George Springer to put the Red Sox three outs away.

In the top of the ninth, the Astros stayed with Osuna's hot hand, and he was able to retire the side. Boston went to closer Craig Kimbrel in the bottom of the inning, who get the save to end the game and the Astros' season. 

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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