BOSTON SPORTS WAVE

Kiké Hernandez Homers Twice But Red Sox Bullpen Implodes, Astros Take ALCS Opener

Boston Red Sox

The Astros took Game 1 of the ALCS Friday night, over the Red Sox.

The Sox had scoring chances less than three outs into the affair.  With two outs, Xander Bogaerts walked while Rafael Devers blooped a single into left, which was followed by a bases-loading walk from J.D. Martinez. However, Hunter Renfroe got one off the end of the bat and flew out to retire the side.

Chris Sale, who Alex Cora surprisingly chose to start Game 1, didn’t have the outing that the lefty likely had in mind. Jose Altuve worked a leadoff walk, before Alex Bregman roped a one-out single into left. A wild pitch moved both into scoring position, and Yordan Alvarez plated Altuve with a sacrifice fly as Houston took the lead.

Two one-out singles in the second inning were followed by Sale drilling Martin Maldonado with a pitch, and it loaded the bases. Luckily, Sale fanned Altuve — Kiké Hernandez then came in the clutch with an inning-ending, diving catch in center field that looked fairly similar to Andrew Benintendi’s in 2018. It got Boston out of the frame in style.

Hernandez didn’t stop there, though. He socked a solo homer 448 feet in the very next play, which led off the third inning. After a Bogaerts walk that was followed by a Devers single, J.D. Martinez hit a soft grounder that got through Altuve at second base, allowing Bogaerts to score. Hunter Renfroe made it a two-run lead with a clutch RBI double, but Alex Verdugo and Christian Arroyo would strand a pair of ducks on the pond (in scoring position) as they both went down on strikes to retire the side.

After Sale served up a pair of two-out hits in the third, Adam Ottavino finished the frame and would go on to hurl a scoreless fourth, as well. Josh Taylor and Ryan Brasier tag-teamed the fifth inning.

Tanner Houck had the sixth, but let up a one-out single to Chas McCormick before Altuve put the Houston crowd on its feet, with a two-out, back-breaking two-run jack that tied it at 3-3. Carlos Correa, on a 2-2 delivery in the seventh that was well above the zone, took Hansel Robles deep to give Houston the 4-3 lead.

More trouble came in the eighth for the Sox. Hirokazu Sawamura loaded the bases after walking the leadoff batter, and serving up a single along with hitting a batter to load the bases. Altuve plated Yuli Gurriel with a sac fly to make it 5-3, and Martin Perez was summoned on from the bullpen — he finished the inning in order to keep it a 5-3 game.

Hernandez led off the ninth with a solo blast, but it wasn’t enough as Boston went down 1-2-3 after that to give Houston the win in Game 1.

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

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