Playoff prognostication is a futile occupation. One can study the trends, the tendencies, but if you think that means those patterns will repeat themselves in a short series, you’re probably going to be wrong a lot.
If there was a game sitting out there for the Astros to win, it was this game, Game 2, featuring David Price against Gerrit Cole. Price’s team was 0-10 in the post-season games in which he has recently started, including his last game against the Yankees in which he got only 5 outs.
Gerrit Cole on the other hand came into the game red hot, with a 3.03 ERA in September, and one of the most dominant performances in Astros Playoff History against the Indians in the ALDS.
And although Price was not great, allowing four runs in 4.2 innings, Cole was worse, at least for the first three innings, allowing 5 runs (4 earned, the unearned run due to his own throwing error), the most he has surrendered all season.
But the Astros would surely win a battle of bullpens, right? Wrong. In the seventh through ninth innings, when the Boston lead was still one run, the bullpen allowed five base runners and two runs to score. The much maligned Boston bullpen, through innings 4-8, did not allow a run and only one base runner. Just for fun, in the ninth inning Boston closer Craig Kimbrel made it interesting, allowing two hits and a meaningless run.
Matt Barnes was the winning pitcher, throwing 1.1 perfect innings right after Price’s departure.
The Red Sox got to Cole in the first inning, starting with a lead off Mookie Betts double followed by an RBI Andrew Benintendi single. J. D. Martinez, who is hitless in the series, lined out, and then Xander Bogaerts hit a weak grounder to Cole. But Cole airmailed the throw, then walked Steve Pearce, which loaded the bases with one out. Rafael Devers singled home Benintendi for the second run, but Cole struck out Ian Kinsler and got Jackie Bradley to ground out, thus stranding the bases loaded and escaping the inning allowing only two runs.
The Astros answered in the second with two runs of their own, starting with a Carlos Correa infield single and a Martin Maldonado double. With two outs George Springer continued his post-season heroics, planting an broken bat, bloop double over the first baseman’s head, tying the score.
Springer would have two doubles today, and extended his playoff hitting streak to 11 games.
In the top of the third Marwin Gonzalez gave Cole a brief lead by smacking a two run homer high above the Monster in left field. It was the fourteenth straight game in which the Astros have had a post-season home run, a major league record.
Here’s Marwin’s homer.
But Cole could not hold his lead, allowing a single to Xander Bogaerts, a double to Pearce, which Marwin Gonzalez nearly caught, a walk to Rafael Devers, and then a three run double to Jackie Bradley off the Green Monster.
Cole would settle down for the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but the damage was done, and the Astros bats would go silent against the Red Sox bullpen until the ninth inning, when Jose Altuve would hit a long single off the left field wall to score George Springer.
The Red Sox got a cheap run in the seventh when reliever Lance McCullers walked Mookie Betts, who advanced to second on a wild pitch, and then advance to third and then home on two Maldonado passed balls. Maldonado has not to deal with very many uncle Charlies spinning out of the hands of Lance McCullers
In the eighth the Red Sox would add their last run by getting two singles off Josh James, who made his post season debut with a fastball that hit 101 MPH. The run would score when Betts would hit a double off Hector Rondon, left off the ALDS roster, and making his first post season appearance in 2018.
Alex Bregman has walked six times in two games in this series, and has seen very few strikes to hit. He has had another stellar post season defensively. Below is one example.
The Astros and Red Sox play next at minute Maid Park Tuesday.
Box score and video here