October 23, 2021
Just a few days ago, it looked like the Boston Red Sox were headed to the World Series for the first time in three years, with a 2-1 series lead and two more games to play in the (usually) home-team-friendly Fenway Park. However, their bats suddenly turned ice cold, and their bullpens melted down in historically awful fashion. Almost as soon as I posted on my blog on Wednesday, the Astros erupted with a 5-run rally, after Kyle Schwarber missed a catch at first base and Yordan Alvarez hit a 2-run double. That knocked starting pitcher Chris Sale out of the game, and his replacement Ryan Brasier gave up three more runs after that. The Astros added a run in the top of the 7th inning, matched by the first and only run by the Red Sox in the bottom of the inning. By then there wasn't much hope for the home town fans, and the Astros won it 9-1. Last night at Minute Maid Park in Houston, a similar sequence of events transpired, as the Red Sox seemed glumly resigned to doom. Yordan Alvarez hit an RBI double in the 1st inning, and scored in the bottom of the 6th on a strange double play in which Kyle Schwarber chose to tag the runner at first instead of immedidately throwing home to prevent the run from scoring. The Astros added three runs on a home run by Kyle Tucker in the 8th inning, and won the game 5-0.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves took NLCS Game 4, thanks to two home runs by Eddie Rosario and one by Freddie Freeman, whose batting performance has been mediocre lately. With a 4-run rally in the top of the 9th they won it easily, 9-2. That gave them a 3-1 series lead and a chance to finish the job on the road. Once again, however, the L.A. Dodgers turned the tables, shocking Braves ace pitcher Max Fried. Overcoming a 1st-inning homer by Freddie Freeman, the Dodgers took a 3-2 lead in the 2nd inning, and kept adding to their run total in subsequent innings. It was rather embarrassing for Fried and his team. Chris Taylor, the little-know utility player who stunned the world with a game-winning home run in the NLDS against the Giants, hit three more home runs, with 6 RBIs total. A.J. Pollock hit two homers of his own, and former National Trea Turner finally started hitting as he was expected to do; he went 3 for 4 at the plate. So, the Dodgers narrowed the series deficit to 3 games to 2.
Tonight the Braves will try to seal the deal at home in Truist Park, trying to put aside fears of repeating the same thing that the Dodgers inflicted up them in the NLCS last year. (The Dodgers won the last three games after the Braves took a 3-1 series lead.) The Braves really need to win the game tonight, or else the momentum will shift even more strongly to the Dodgers. Walker Buehler will be pitching for the Dodgers tonight instead of Max Scherzer. Max apparently hurt his throwing arm after pitching as closer in NLDS Game 5 and then starting on short rest in NLCS Game 2. Presumably he will be available to pitch in the later innings tonight, if needed, or perhaps as a starter in Game 7, if there is one...