The Red Sox advanced to the ALCS and have their opponent on Friday night. Let’s see how it came about.

Collin McHugh started for the Rays as an opener. He pitched two scoreless innings. Shane McClanahan lasted two outs in the 3rd inning and gave up five runs. It can be questioned why McHugh didn’t go another inning or two but I think it’s clear that this was the Rays game plan.

Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched five innings for the Red Sox and gave up two runs. It was what the Red Sox needed. Tanner Houck followed for one inning and gave up one run. Wander Franco hit a home run against Houck. Randy Arozarena went 2-for-4 and Kevin Kiermaier went 2-for-3. Rafael Devers hit a 3-run home run in the 3rd inning and went 3-for-4. J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez went 2-for-4. Ryan Brasier gave up the tying run in the 8th inning. Garrett Whitlock held the Rays down to let Enrique Hernandez bring in Danny Santana, who pinch ran for Vazquez, to win the game. The Sox won 6-5. 

Enjoy the celebration tweets:

 

ALCS PREVIEW

The Red Sox will head to Houston for games one and two. Starters haven’t been announced yet but I think we can assume that whoever starts game 1, will start games 4 and 7 as well. In my opinion, it should be Nathan Eovaldi. He is the guy you want on the mound right now. It will probably be Sale pitching Game 1 since he would have pitched Game 5 if needed.  The Sox need to do what they did against the Rays: force Dusty Baker to go to the bullpen early and often. The offense is capable of doing it. 

The Astros have an offense that can do the same thing. Alex Cora is going to have to manage his bullpen wisely because now it is a best of 7 series. He could have the benefit of having Nick Pivetta as a reliever since most teams stick with three starters for a best-of-7 series. He also has to trust guys like Adam Ottavino, Martin Perez, and Matt Barnes in certain situations, assuming they are on the roster. 

I won’t predict who would win because I honestly didn’t think the Red Sox would beat the Rays at first. The Rays strategy works. Analytics works. Players still have to perform and the Red Sox changed the Rays’ plans when they made pitchers work. The Astros continue to be dominant in October. It should be a fun series. 

Go Red Sox!