Red Sox vs Astros: ALCS Game 1 live updates - The Boston Globe

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Sale’s night is over — 9:52 p.m.

Chris Sale is done for the night. His line: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. 61 pitches/37 strikes.

Was he good? No. Was he better than he was in his last three starts going back to the regular season? Yes. He left with a 3-1 lead, which is what the Sox cared about. Alex Cora’s gamble wasn’t a resounding success but it did the job. 

Boy, if the Sox can steal this game with Nate Eovaldi going tomorrow afternoon ...

Who would’ve thought? — 9:36 p.m.

The first starter pulled in this game is ... Framber Valdez? Yep, he allowed three runs in the third inning. After Kiké Hernández’s homer, Xander Bogaerts walked and Rafael Devers singled. J.D. Martinez grounded a ball over the mound that should have been a double play but Jose Altuve booted it. That allowed a run to score before Hunter Renfroe doubled for his first RBI of this postseason. The Sox had a chance for more but Valdez struck out Alex Verdugo and righthanded reliever Yimi Garcia struck out Christian Arroyo.

It’s 3-1 Sox.

Red Sox in front — 9:16 p.m.

Houston’s Jose Altuve misplayed a grounder and the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third, then made it 3-1 when Hunter Renfroe doubled down the third base line.

Righthander Yimi García has replaced Framber Valdez on the mound for Houston.

Hernández ties it up — 9:10 p.m.

Chris Sale is through two innings thanks to Kiké Hernández.

Sale loaded the bases with one out on two singles and a wayward fastball that hit Martín Maldonado. He then picked up his pace and energy and struck out Jose Altuve on four pitches. Michael Brantley followed with a flare to center field that would have scored two runs if not for Hernández’s diving Andrew Benintendi-like catch. Sale escaped the jam but has thrown 45 pitches.

Hernández then led off the third inning with a homer to left center. Reggie Jackson is here tonight but it’s Hernández who is Mr. October.

Red Sox center fielder Kiké Hernández made a diving catch on a ball hit by Michael Brantley with the bases loaded to end the second inning.Red Sox center fielder Kiké Hernández made a diving catch on a ball hit by Michael Brantley with the bases loaded to end the second inning.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Astros on the board — 8:38 p.m.

The Astros took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Yordan Alvarez’s sacrifice fly to left field that allowed Jose Altuve to score from third. Altuve led off with a walk and advanced on a single and a wild pitch.

It was a far too eventful first inning for Chris Sale, who threw 29 pitches to five hitters and allowed a run. Good news: His fastball had better velocity, hitting 97 m.p.h. Bad news: He has trouble commanding it. A walk, a single, a wild pitch and a sac fly by lefthanded hitting Yordan Alvarez accounted for the run. Sale retired Carlos Correa on a groundout to avoid more damage. It looks like he will come back out for the second inning. Tonight is Sale’s first appearance since Oct. 8 when he lasted one inning at Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the Division Series.

Sox threaten, but no damage — 8:24 p.m.

The Sox sent six men to the plate and made Framber Valdez throw 21 pitches in the first inning. But they didn’t score as Hunter Renfroe popped to center with the bases loaded to end the inning. Valdez is facing the Red Sox for the third time this season. So far: 15.1 IP and 2 ER.

It’s game time — 8:07 p.m.

We are ready to go at Minute Maid Park. Former Red Sox and Astros outfielder Josh Reddick threw out the first pitch. He’s a character. Reddick had on a wrestling belt under his Astros jersey.

Reddick has played 13 years in the majors and appeared in 74 playoff games. Not bad for a junior college player picked in the 17th round of the draft.

Betting on Chris Sale — 7:53 p.m.

From Alex Speier:

The Red Sox are making an awfully big bet in Game 1 that the version of Chris Sale who pitched in Game 2 of the ALDS – the one who got knocked out in five innings by the Rays – won’t make a recurring appearance in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Astros. The team views the lefthander as having struggled due to faulty mechanics that have a fairly straightforward fix.

So what’s been off for him?

Sale hasn’t had a good changeup since returning from Tommy John surgery. Over his first eight starts in the big leagues from mid-August through September, he remained effective as primarily a fastball/slider pitcher.

His four-seam fastball is particularly significant. Even in outings where he had diminished velocity, Sale was able to command it to both sides of the plate – particularly important against righties – to get bad contact.

Here’s what that looked like through his Baltimore start:

Baseball Savant

In Washington, he simply lost the strike zone with ... everything after the first inning.

But Tampa Bay was different. Sale’s fastball had a very specific issue, especially against righties:

Chris SaleChris SaleBaseball Savant

Sale was only able to throw his fastball to righties from the middle of the plate and out – working only to his arm-side, with no ability to run his fastball in on righties.

Interestingly, Sale’s release point in that Tampa Bay star was notably different from where it had been in his prior regular season start in Tampa Bay. His release point was roughly two inches further toward first base than it had been in his early September start, and he had four fewer inches of extension toward the plate.

The Red Sox believe his direction toward the plate had been off. He’s always had a cross-fire delivery, but it’s been more extreme of late, with a larger step in the direction of the first base side of the mound than usual. With inconsistency to the power of his stuff, perhaps he’s been trying to create more whip through his torso.

Regardless of the cause, the effect in Tampa Bay was disastrous. With Sale only able to work middle-away with his fastball to righties, and without a need to respect his changeup, righties could look in a very narrow area and tee off when Sale threw his fastball. (Low- to mid-90s is very different than the upper-90s where Sale lived in 2017-18.)

So, direction to the plate and staying in his delivery have been areas of emphasis for Sale in the significant work he’s done leading up to this start. It is a correctable mechanical flaw, but the question is whether Sale – who is still getting used to being back on the mound – can achieve a significant correction in a relatively short period of time.

The shape of Game 1 will be determined in large part by that effort.

Pregame scenes — 6:30 p.m.

Here are a few glimpses inside Minute Maid Park from our reporters in Houston:

Lineups — 6:17 p.m.

RED SOX: Hernández CF, Schwarber 1B, Bogaerts SS, Devers 3B, Martinez DH, Renfroe RF, Verdugo LF, Arroyo 2B, Vázquez C.

Pitching: LHP Chris Sale (5-1, 3.16 ERA)

ASTROS: Altuve 2B, Brantley DH, Bregman 3B, Alvarez LF, Correa SS, Tucker RF, Gurriel 1B, McCormick CF, Maldonado C.

Pitching: LHP Framber Valdez (11-6, 3.14 ERA)

Teams submit rosters — 6:11 p.m.

Both teams had to submit their rosters for the ALCS on Friday morning. Here’s a look:


Pitchers (13): Ryan Brasier, Nate Eovaldi, Darwinzon Hernandez, Tanner Houck, Adam Ottavino, Martín Pérez, Nick Pivetta, Hansel Robles, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chris Sale, Hirokazu Sawamura, Josh Taylor, Garrett Whitlock

Catchers (2): Kevin Plawecki, Christian Vázquez

Infielders (5): Christian Arroyo, Xander Bogaerts, Bobby Dalbec, Rafael Devers, Travis Shaw

Outfielders (4): J.D. Martinez, Hunter Renfroe, Kyle Schwarber, Alex Verdugo

Infielder/outfielders (2): Kiké Hernández, Danny Santana


Pitchers (13): Luis Garcia, Yimi García, Kendall Graveman, Zack Greinke, Cristian Javier, Phil Maton, Jake Odorizzi, Ryan Pressly, Brooks Raley, Ryne Stanek, Blake Taylor, José Urquidy, Framber Valdez

Catchers (2): Jason Castro, Martín Maldonado

Infielders (5): Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Aledmys Díaz, Yuli Gurriel

Outfielders (6): Yordan Álvarez, Michael Brantley, Chas McCormick, Jake Meyers, Jose Siri, Kyle Tucker

Who is Framber Valdez? — 5:05 p.m.

Houston’s starting pitcher, Framber Valdez, owns a 2-1 record with a 1.59 ERA in four career appearances (two starts) against the Red Sox. The lefthander allowed two runs and struck out 18 in 14⅓ innings en route to going 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA in two starts against the Sox this season. But in his one postseason start against them, he allowed four runs on seven hits in 4⅓ innings of a no-decision in Game 2 of the ALDS.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.

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