Game 3 of the 2018 American League Championship Series was a wild ride — even if the final score might not indicate as much.
The series split, things shifted to Houston where Nathan Eovaldi would get the ball for the Red Sox opposite Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel.
Thanks to a game-changing (and perhaps series-changing) blast from an unexpected source, Boston wound up winning Game 3 going away 8-2.
NESN will air Game 3 of the 2018 ALCS on Friday night at 8 p.m. ET. Here are a few things you might have forgotten about that game.
1. Starting early
It wasn’t a particularly inspiring start for Keuchel and the Astros. The 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner allowed the first two Red Sox batters to reach, and J.D. Martinez made him pay with a screaming line drive down the right-field line. Xander Bogaerts followed with a groundout to bring in the second Boston run of the inning. Jumping out to an early lead was common practice for the 2018 Red Sox, and it usually translated to wins. Boston went 74-15 in the regular season when scoring the first run of a game.
2. Big E
Coincidentally, Game 3 would be the final start of the postseason for Eovaldi, and he made it count. Houston did answer by scoring a run in the first, but Eovaldi eventually settled in. The right-hander gave the Sox six strong innings, allowing just two runs on six hits while walking a pair and striking out four. In two playoff starts for the Sox, the trade deadline acquisition allowed just three runs in 13 innings against the Yankees and Astros, two of the best offenses in baseball in 2018. Of course, Eovaldi would be remembered much more for another outing later in the postseason.
3. An uncertain moment — and an answer
Minute Maid Park was rocking in the fifth inning, and it looked like a potential turning point in the entire series. The red-hot Alex Bregman tied the game 2-2 with a “double” when he hit a bounding ball down the third-base line that probably should have been an error on Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. At the very least, it’s a ball the young slugger should have centered up and at kept in front of him. Nonetheless, the game was tied, and Astros fans were going wild. Eovaldi would induce a groundout to get out of the inning, but Houston had all the momentum — until Steve Pearce came to the plate.
Pearce, another midseason pickup, hit seven home runs in 50 regular-season games for the Red Sox and was even better in the playoffs. One of his biggest hits came in the sixth inning of this game when he stepped in to face Houston reliever Joe Smith. The right-hander made what looked like a pretty good pitch, but Pearce was able to get his hands inside the ball and launch a towering home run to deep left field.
4. Leaving no doubt
The Astros made a questionable move at the trade deadline, acquiring Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays. The trade wasn’t a bad one from a baseball standpoint, but it was criticized by many given the reliever’s off-field issues. At the time of the deal, Osuna was still serving a 75-game suspension after being arrested and charged for allegedly assaulting a woman.
So, there were plenty of people cheering and pointing to karma as Osuna melted down in Game 3 of the ALCS. Osuna eventually loaded the bases after hitting two Red Sox batters with pitches. That brought Jackie Bradley Jr. to the plate, one game removed from a pivotal bases-clearing double in Game 2. This time around, Bradley did one better. He turned on a 94 mph fastball from Osuna and sent it deep into the night for a grand slam that pushed Boston’s lead to 8-2.
The Red Sox were more than capable of holding that six-run lead, as Eduardo Rodriguez made an appearance out of the bullpen to pitch the ninth inning and finish off the Boston win that gave the Sox a 2-1 series lead.