By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
Final, 7-2 Astros: Bogaerts led off the ninth with a wall-ball single to left, which brought about a cheer from the 10,000 or so fans who decided to see this one through to the end.
But Pearce followed it up with a strikeout (looking) before Brock Holt’s liner in the right-center field gap was caught on the run by Reddick. Nunez ended the game by grounding out to third.
The Astros have themselves a 1-0 lead. No pressure on David Price for Sunday night.
Middle 9th, 7-2 Astros: The rest of that inning took about a half-hour. Credit to the 10,000 or so fans who are sticking this one out until the end.
Collin McHugh has come on to pitch the ninth.
Top 9th, 1 Out, 7-2 Astros: Stick a fork in this one. It’s over.
Brandon Workman walked both Altuve and Bregman with one out. The Red Sox (Roenicke, one supposes) stuck with him, and he promptly served up a home run to Gurriel on the first pitch.
It’s now 7-2.
Top 9th, 4-2 Astros: So much for keeping the score at 3-2. Reddick just hit a bomb to the triangle to lead off the ninth, and it just cleared the short fence by the Boston bullpen.
The Astros’ lead just doubled.
End 8th, 3-2 Astros: McCullers just buzzed right through Boston’s three best bats, with ease.
Benintendi grounded out harmlessly to third, Benintendi struck out (for the third time), and Martinez was called out on a check swing. He probably didn’t swing, but he also didn’t run when the ball bounced away from Maldonado. Instead he reacted somewhat shocked before eventually realizing he had a chance to get to first base. It was too late at that point though, and Maldonado threw on to first to retire him easily.
Sox will be down to their final outs, and they’ll have to face Osuna.
Workman is on to pitch the top of the ninth for Boston, trying to hold that score at 3-2.
Middle 8th, 3-2 Astros: Another busy inning for the Houston batters, but another zero on the scoreboard.
The inning started with Brasier hitting White in the forearm. Hoye, the home plate umpire who’s had a rough night calling balls and strikes, initially called it a foul ball. It didn’t take long on the replay review to see he was wrong.
Brasier got Gonzalez to strike out swinging before walking Correa for a two-on, one-out situation for Maldonado. Brasier got the ground ball he needed, though, with Bogaerts flipping to Holt, and Holt throwing on to first to complete the double play to end the inning.
Due up for Boston: Betts, Benintendi, Martinez. Now is the time.
McCullers is now pitching for Houston.
End 7th, 3-2 Astros: The Red Sox were gifted a base runner, when Correa double-clutched a ball before throwing it away to allow Nunez to reach with one out. But they couldn’t capitalize. Bradley struck out swinging, and Vazquez grounded out to short to end the frame.
Just six outs remaining for the Houston bullpen to get.
Ryan Brasier is on for the Sox to pitch the eighth.
Middle 7th, 3-2 Astros: That was a lengthy one in terms of time, but it proved to be fruitless for the Astros.
The inning started with Nunez making a diving play to his left and then skipping a throw across the diamond to retire Reddick by the smallest of margins.
Springer then walked, followed by a swinging strikeout by Altuve.
Bregman worked a two-out walk, but Barnes got Gurriel to ground to short to end the inning.
Verlander’s out of this game. Ryan Pressley is on for Houston. He has pitched 2.1 scoreless innings this postseason.
End 6th, 3-2 Astros: A.J. Hinch decided to trust his ace for one more. Verlander delivered.
He just quickly got Martinez (6-3), Bogaerts (5-3) and Pearce (5-3) to go down in order. That’s the 2-3-4 portion of the order for Boston, and if that’s the end of the night for Verlander, it was properly impressive.
Middle 6th, 3-2 Astros: That inning was … not ideal for Boston. Hoye continued making some questionable calls behind the plate (see here and also here). Kelly hit Bregman with a 100 mph heater to start the inning. Nunez complicated that when he butchered a room service double play ball and got nobody out.
Kelly was impressive from there, though, getting White to pop out to second base and then striking out Gonzalez. And he probably deserved at least one strike call against Correa, but he did not get it. So Correa got a 3-1 fastball and smoked it into left field, scoring a run and regaining the lead for Houston.
Matt Barnes came on and induced a little comebacker on his first pitch to end the inning.
Top 6th, 2-2: Nobody in the crowd knew it, but Alex Cora got himself ejected from this game between innings. He was arguing with home plate umpire James Hoye over the called strike three to Benintendi, and Hoye quickly tossed the manager while he was still in the dugout.
Cora then came out and got his money’s worth, so to speak. But the Sox are without a manager here in the sixth.
End 5th, 2-2: Moreland came through with a pretty impressive at-bat, considering he was coming in cold (literally and figuratively). After falling behind 0-2, Moreland patiently took four straight balls from Verlander to draw a bases-loaded walk and plate the first Boston run of the night.
Moreland promptly exited the game (his hamstring isn’t yet right) for pinch runner Christian Vazquez, who will now catch.
Betts grounded into a fielder’s choice (5-2 putout), bringing up Benintendi with a chance to tie the game. But Benintendi didn’t have to do anything, as he took a 1-2 ball in the dirt. It skipped away from Maldonado, and Bradley (who had a great secondary lead off third base) sprinted home to tie the game.
Now with runners on second and third and two outs, Benintendi still had a big opportunity — this time to give the Sox a lead. But he took a called strike three. It was off the plate but, well, that doesn’t do much for anybody now.
Either way, that was quite the inning for the home team. The crowd has been dying to get back into it like that, and they finally got their reason.
Bottom 6th, 1 Out, 2-0 Astros: The Red Sox have something going. Pearce singled to lead off the inning, followed by a Holt strikeout. Nunez then walked on five pitches, and then Jackie Bradley walked on four pitches.
In to hit for Leon with the bases loaded is Mitch Moreland.
Middle 5th, 2-0 Astros: Joe Kelly just buzzed through the Houston order in the fifth, inducing a Reddick flyout to the right-center field gap, a grounder to third by Springer and a popout by Altuve.
Betts made a solid play on the run to catch that sinking liner from Reddick to start the inning.
End 4th, 2-0 Astros: Justin Verlander is suffocating the Red Sox tonight.
He just retired Benintendi (swinging strikeout), Martinez (flyout to right), and Bogaerts (foul pop to first) in order to end the fourth. Verlander has now retired 10 straight batters.
And now… Joe Kelly is in the game. Chris Sale’s night is over. He lasted just four innings and 86 pitches. I thought he’d be back out for the fifth, considering the fourth was his strongest inning. Alas, Cora has made the move.
Middle 4th, 2-0 Astros: Sale just completed his best inning of the night. Gonzalez flew out to center, and then Sale got Correa (swinging) and Maldonado (looking) to strike out to end the inning.
Now, ideally, Sale would’ve done that the first time through the bottom of the order. Alas, he did not, and the Sox remain in a hole. But at least Sale looks capable of getting through five.
Benintendi, Martinez, and Bogaerts are due up for the Sox.
End 3rd, 2-0 Astros: Once again, the Sox are retired in order. Bradley flew out to right-center on the first pitch of the inning, Leon struck out looking, and Betts took a hack at a 3-1 pitch but grounded it right to Bregman, who threw on to first for the out.
Verlander’s been sharp, shaking off that early command issue with the curveball. He’s thrown just 33 pitches through three innings.
Sale, meanwhile, is at 69 pitches.He threw 93 pitches in his ALDS start, and he obviously hasn’t gotten close to throwing 100 pitches in a start since July. So we’ll see if he can at least get through a quick fourth.
Middle 3rd, 2-0 Astros: The Red Sox wanted Sale to get out of that inning. He did just that.
Bregman helped, by getting caught stealing second base with one out. Leon made a great throw, and Bogaerts applied a quick tag. Joe West ruled Bregman out on the field, the Astros challenge, and the call held up. (Sale had previously gotten Gurriel to pop out to second base.)
Now with two outs and nobody on, Sale got White to stare at strike three for the second time tonight.
So, no harm done, despite the rocky start to the inning. Joe Kelly can rest for now.
Top 3rd, 0 Outs, 2-0 Astros: More trouble for Chris Sale, who missed badly on a 3-2 pitch to Bregman to start the third with a walk.
After Sale fell behind Gurriel, Cora made the call to have Joe Kelly warm up.
The Sox are hoping Sale can climb out of this. Seeing Kelly in the third would spell a lot of trouble.
End 2nd, 2-0 Astros: Nothing doing for the Sox in the second. Pearce struck out looking, Holt went down swinging, and Nunez chopped out to short.
Verlander’s thrown just 23 pitches — 17 for strikes.
Middle 2nd, 2-0 Astros: Sale looked to be en route to a quick and easy inning, after he caught White looking at strike three and then retired Gonzalez on a soft liner to second base. Two outs, six pitches. But then trouble came.
Sale missed outside with sliders on consecutive pitches to walk Correa. Sale then tried to go inside on Maldonado but hit him on the hand. Sale followed that up with a five-pitch walk to Reddick.
Really bad job by Sale, giving away free bases to the bottom of the order.
So up came the dangerous Springer, with the bases loaded and two outs. Sale went right at him, getting ahead 0-2. Springer fouled off a high fastball, then Sale missed with two straight high fastballs for balls one and two. After missing badly away for ball three, the runners were off with the 3-2 pitch. Springer powered it on the ground through the left side, under the glove of Nunez, bringing home two runs.
It wasn’t a good play by Nunez, who made a diving attempt when the ball wasn’t all that far from him. But it was a hot shot.
Sale got Altuve to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
Sale is up to 50 pitches through just two innings, and he’s only thrown 26 strikes.
End 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox had a little something going. They were looking to get frisky.
But double plays have a way of ending that quickly. Bogaerts came up with runners on first and second and one out, but he hit an 0-1 grounder right to short. Correa-Altuve-Gurriel, inning over.
Betts led off the first with a single to right field. He tried to take second on the first pitch to Benintendi, but Benintendi popped out to left. Betts did advance to second on a wild pitch by Verlander (didn’t look like he could grip the breaking ball too well), and Martinez walked (on another breaking ball in the dirt). But Bogaerts grounded into the double play, and this one heads to the second.
Just 11 pitches from Verlander that inning. We’ll keep an eye on that breaking ball though.
Middle 1st, 0-0: Springer had quite the leadoff at-bat, battling from being down 1-2 to working an eight-pitch walk to start the game. Sale served up what looked to be a gimme of a double play, but Altuve didn’t hit it hard enough. Bogaerts flipped to Holt, who tagged the bag and threw on to first base. Altuve beat it out.
Then things got a little wild. Altuve took off with a 1-0 count for Bregman. Bregman then skied a ball into shallow right field. Altuve went sliding into second base, having no idea the ball was still flying in right field. So he popped back to his feet and broke to first to try to tag. But a funny thing happened along the way: the Red Sox forgot to make the catch. It fell between Pearce and Betts, so Altuve broke back to second base.
Betts scrambled to grab the ball and fire to second. Umpire Joe West ruled that the throw took Bogaerts off the bag. The Red Sox challenged, and after a lengthy review (it’s cold out there!), the call was overturned.
Great job by Bogaerts to keep a toe on the second base bag. Bad job by Joe West at seeing feet on bags.
Sale then got Gurriel to go down swinging to end the inning. Sixteen pitches for the lefty, who’s opted of course to go without a long-sleeve shirt under his jersey tonight.
Top 1st: David Price’s first pitch to Springer is a fastball for ball one.
The American League Championship Series is underway.
7:56 p.m.: As the on-field introductions come to an end, here are your lineups for this evening.
1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Andrew Benintendi, LF
3. J.D. Martinez, DH
4. Xander Bogaerts, SS
5. Steve Pearce, 1B
6. Brock Holt, 2B
7. Eduardo Nunez, 3B
8. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
9. Sandy Leon, C
SP — Chris Sale
1. George Springer, CF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Alex Bregman, 3B
4. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
5. Tyler White, DH
6. Marwin Gonzalez, LF
7. Carlos Correa, SS
8. Maldonado, C
9. Josh Reddick, RF
SP — Justin Verlander
7:35 p.m.: Good evening from a buzzing Boston, where fans here at Fenway Park are charged up for baseball. They’re going to get a good one.
We’re just about a half-hour out from first pitch here, and the stands are starting to fill up, U2 is blaring over the sound system, and Sandy Leon is firing some missiles from center field to the warning track for warmups.
Chris Sale just made his slow walk out to the bullpen, greeted by a rousing ovation. The crowd ought to be pretty special tonight, at least to start the game.
When that game begins, we’ll have live updates and analysis all night long right here in the live blog. So check back early and often as the Red Sox and Astros fight to get out to a 1-0 lead in this ALCS.