By Diego Marcano
BU News Service
BOSTON – The Boston Red Sox clinched the American League on Thursday night after a 4-1 game five victory over the Astros.
A home run by J.D Martinez against Justin Verlander opened the scoreboard for the Red Sox at the beginning of the third inning. Rafael Devers then hit a three-run homerun over the center field. The batting power may have pushed the Red Sox into the World Series, but David Price’s great performance on the mound kept the Astros at bay.
You may call it destiny, luck, or simply a series of random events, but it was what happened the day before what set the conditions for the Red Sox to step into the 2018 World Series.
Craig Kimbrel was on the mound, trying to close game four, when Alex Cora sent David Price to warm-up, just in case Kimbrel could not finish the job.
He initially dismissed Yuli Gurriel with a fly ball in foul territory. But then, Kimbrel entered a dark tunnel and in it he started digging, trying to see the light on the other side.
First, he pitched four balls, sending Josh Reddick to first base. Then the same happened with Carlos Correa. With two bases loaded, Brian McCann sent the ball deep in the right field for an out, but still managed to move Reddick to third base. Before Tony Kemp took the bat, Cora visited the mound to confirm Kimbrel was still in control. He was not; another walk.
With the bases loaded, Bregman stepped in with the chance of striking a winning swing and in the blink of an eye, the count was 3-2.
Price was throwing the ball in the bullpen; calibrating his knuckle curveball and tuning his fast sinker. As each ball was hurled, he became closer to being ready to pitch. In the case of Kimbrel failing, he would close the game and miss on the opportunity of opening game five. Fortunately for him, that was not the case.
In a moment of a suspense akin to a Quentin Tarantino movie, where every character in the room is pointing a loaded gun at each other, Bergman smacked the ball and pulled it into left field. The runners sprinted around the diamond and Kimbrel turned to see the trajectory of the ball that was about to cost his team the game and their series lead. But Andrew Benintendi raced towards the ball, extended his right arm and captured it in an outstanding diving catch that gave the Red Sox the win.
From inside the bullpen, David Price could not see the play, but he heard the cheers and celebrated all the same. Soon after, Alex Cora called it. David Price would face Houston’s star Justin Verlander in game five. In it, Price pitched nine strikeouts in seven innings and allowed only three hits.
In game five, once again, Kimbrel went to the mound to close the game. This time, he only allowed one walk. The last ball of the game, just as it had happened the day before, found its way into Benintendi’s glove.
Last year the Houston Astros defeated the Red Sox in the 2017 AL Division Series at Fenway Park. This year, the Red Sox got their revenge at the Minute Maid Park, ending the Astros’ World Series aspirations.