Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Astros 5, Red Sox 4: The end of the road

Rob Bradford
October 09, 2017 - 5:16 pm

It was trending toward the improbable. The Red Sox had seemingly found the formula to beat the seemingly unbeatable Astros, heading into the eighth inning Monday with a one-run lead and their best pitcher playing the role of hero.

Then reality hit.

Chris Sale, who had come on to play the role of David Price in the fourth inning, finally threw a bad pitch when it counted, laying in a changeup to Alex Bregman to lead off the eighth and tie things up. Then came the dagger. With two outs and the count full, and closer Craig Kimbrel asked to get the inning's last out, Josh Reddick lined a single into left field that scored pinch-runner Cameron Maybin with the eventual game-winner.

The Red Sox' two best pitchers had allowed the American League's best offense to get the better of them. The result was a 5-4, Game 4 win for the Astros, and the end of the Sox' season.

The way things were shaping up prior to the eighth inning offered the foundation for a pretty good story. This team that had been absolutely smoked in the American League Division Series' first two games comes back to Fenway Park where they find the formula on how to beat Houston: Hit a few home runs and have your ace starters come in to carry the day in relief. Sunday it was Rafael Devers and David Price. This time Andew Benintendi and Sale were getting ready to be deemed the heroes.

After Rick Porcello offered three innings of two-run ball to kick things off, Sale was called on to get to Kimbrel. And, up until the eighth, he did just that, replicating Price's efforts by holding Houston scoreless for four innings.

And while Sale was doing his thing, Houston was caught trying to ineffectively play copy-cat. With one out and a runner on first in the fifth inning, Astros manager A.J. Hinch replaced starter Charlie Morton with Justin Verlander. Verlander had never pitched out of the bullpen in his entire career, and it showed. While being showered with chants of "Justin" (his first name) and "Upton" (his fiance's last name), the Astros ace hung a 2-2 slider that Benintendi deposited into the right field bleachers. 

The home run was seemingly all the Red Sox would need considering Sale's effectivness, and the looming presence of Sale. It wasn't.

With Gary DiSarcina serving as the Red Sox' manager due to John Farrell's second-inning ejection, the decision was made to send Sale out for the eighth despite the fact Addison Reed had been warming up and the Sox' lefty was at 68 pitches four days after totaling 100 in Game 1.

It didn't work out.

Kimbrel wouldn't make it out of the ninth inning without allowing one more run, giving up a two-run RBI Carlos Beltran. That would prove important.

As they have done for much of the season, the Red Sox mustered a comeback, starting with Rafael Devers' inside-the-park home run to leadoff the ninth inning against Houston closer Ken Giles. But after a ground out from Christian Vazquez, strikeout by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Dustin Pedroia's ground out to second the game was over, and so was the season.

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