Posted on October 9, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Boston Red Sox are alive and kicking. After a couple of demoralizing losses in Houston, the Red Sox fought back in Game 3 of the ALDS, overcoming an early 3-0 deficit to beat the Astros 10-3 and keep the series going. Of course, Boston’s work isn’t done yet. The Red Sox have to quickly move on from their impressive win on Sunday afternoon and play another elimination game on Monday afternoon, hoping to force a decisive Game 5 back in Houston.
The Price is Right
After a tumultuous and injury-plagued regular season, David Price stepped up during Game 3 in a big way. Mookie Betts should get a great deal of credit for making a home-run-saving catch that could have put the Red Sox down 6-0 early. But as soon as the Red Sox took the lead for the first time all series, Price slammed the door shut for four innings, holding onto the lead until the Red Sox could extend their lead and put the game on ice. The Red Sox needed 23 outs from their bullpen in Game 3, and they were able to get 12 of those outs from Price in a clutch and Herculean performance. Of course, the caveat is that Price is unlikely to pitch again unless Boston can force a Game 5.
Last Year’s Cy Young winner Rick Porcello will get the ball for the Red Sox in Game 4. Of course, Porcello has not been in Cy Young form this season, going 11-17 with a 4.65 ERA. He was also knocked around by the Astros back in June, allowing seven runs on 10 hits over six innings. In his career, Porcello has 10 postseason appearances and three starts, including a start in last year’s playoffs that did not go well. However, Porcello did throw a scoreless inning in relief in Game 1, and the Red Sox can only hope he can keep that going in Game 4.
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As for the Astros, they’ll turn to Charlie Morton to help close out the series in Game 4. Houston took a chance on Morton, who made only four starts in 2016 because of injury, and it’s paid off quite well. In 25 starts, Morton was 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA. He excelled down the stretch, including a win over the Red Sox in which he allowed two runs on four hits over 5.1 innings. Of course, Morton has only one career postseason start, and that was back in 2013 when he was with the Pirates. That was also in Game 4 of a division series with his team ahead in the series 2-1. Morton took the loss in that game and his team went on to lose the series.
The bullpen of both teams may end up being the X-factor in this game. Houston manager A.J. Hinch was quick to pull Brad Peacock in Game 3, forcing his bullpen to cover more than five innings. Lance McCullers Jr. took the hit and threw three innings and closer Ken Giles wasn’t used. But one has to wonder how fresh everyone else will be with an early afternoon game on Monday.
It’s a similar story with Boston, who need its bullpen to pitch 7.2 innings on Sunday. Price took four of those innings, which all but eliminates him from pitching in Game 4. Not having Price will be huge, but one other option to consider is Chris Sale John Farrell chose not to start Sale in Game 4 on short rest, but being an elimination game, Sale could be used out of the bullpen if necessary, with Drew Pomeranz available on regular rest for a possible Game 5. Sale could potentially serve a similar role in Game 4 that Price played in Game 3, which could give the Red Sox a huge lift if he can bounce back from a shaky performance in Game 1.
The Red Sox did well to extend the series, but Game 4 is the end of the line for them. Porcello has not looked like a Cy Young winner this year and he could find it difficult to prevent Houston’s lineup from scoring runs. Several Astros players have good numbers against Porcello, including Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick. Meanwhile, very few Red Sox players have more than a couple at-bats in their career against Morton. That will give the Astros enough of an advantage to close out the series. Houston wins 7-3.