The Red Sox are loaded with talent and quite a few big names, but it was a trio of guys with less notoriety who stepped up Tuesday night.
Boston took a 2-1 series lead in their American League Championship Series with the Astros, beating Houston 8-2 at Minute Maid Park in Game 3, and it largely was due to the performances of Nathan Eovaldi, Steve Pearce and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Eovaldi was making his second career postseason start, and in a game that was sure to shift the momentum of the series, he hardly was fazed. Over six innings, he allowed two runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts. The right-hander did a good job keeping damage to a minimum, and helped keep the bullpen fresh by going deep into the game.
With so much instability in the Red Sox’s rotation, having Eovaldi come in and be a rock has been integral to Boston’s success so far.
Pearce made his biggest mark on the game with his bat, though he made some impressive stretches at first base that also were key. But with the game tied at two in the sixth inning, Pearce put Boston ahead 3-2 with a moonshot to left field. He almost plated more runs in his previous at-bat, but was robbed by Tony Kemp in left.
With Mitch Moreland still not fully healthy, Pearce has given the Red Sox everything they need both offensively and defensively. At the dish this postseason, Pearce is hitting .304 with two extra base hits, three RBIs and seven runs scored.
With the game still hanging in the balance in the eighth, Bradley provided the dagger. The Red Sox were ahead 4-2 , and the center fielder smacked a grand slam to right, putting the game out of reach.
Bradley is one of the streakiest hitters around, but the results are clear when he is hitting well.
Of course, the Red Sox need guys like Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez to carry their weight. But in order for Boston to put away the Astros, they’ll need the other guys to keep stepping up on a nightly basis.
Here are some other notes from Red Sox-Astros Game 3:
— While the bullpen has been the Red Sox’s biggest weakness this season, they’ve done well so far.
In Game 3, it was Ryan Brasier who was the most impressive. He entered in the seventh, tasked with preserving Boston’s one-run lead. The right-hander did just that, allowing a two-out bunt single in an otherwise clean inning. In response, the Red Sox dropped five runs on the Astros in the top of the eighth.
Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez finished things up without issue, though it wasn’t too tense of a situation once they came in.
Neither Brasier nor Barnes have allowed a run over 10 2/3 innings this postseason.
— In ALCS history, there have been 21 times when the two teams entered Game 3 locked at one win apiece. In 16 instances, the winner of Game 3 went on to win the series.
— Between the regular season and postseason, the Red Sox have scored first 94 times. In those games, they’re now 79-15.