Game 4 of the 2018 American League Championship Series came down to a very big gamble.
Once again, Craig Kimbrel and the Boston Red Sox went on a wild ride in the ninth inning, but one of the greatest plays in franchise history preserved the win and put Boston on the precipice of the World Series.
NESN has Game 4 of the 2018 ALCS coming your way at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night. Here’s what you might have forgotten about that game.
1. Another early start
The Red Sox, as they did much of the year in 2018, got off to a hot start, and once again, it was a big two-out hitwith runners in scoring position. Houston starter Charlie Morton couldn’t keep Boston off the board, as Rafael Devers lined a base hit into left-center field with two down to give the Sox an early 2-0 lead. Forty-three of the club’s 80 postseason RBIs came with two outs. The early start was a recipe for success, too. The Red Sox went 10-0 in the playoffs when scoring first and scored multiple runs in the first inning six times.
Just as quick as the Red Sox took the lead, it appeared the Astros were about to tie up the game. Houston star Jose Altuve hit a blast to right field that looked like it was going to be a game-tying home run, but Boston outfielder Mookie Betts leaped and pulled it back. In fact, it appeared Betts could have made the catch had it not been for a fan reaching over the fence.
Crew chief Joe West took matters into his own hands, and the umpiring crew took the play to review to see if there was fan interference. After a long delay, the umpires ruled fan interference, and the would-be RBI double turned into the second out of the inning. Rick Porcello escaped the first unscathed, a major turning point in the game.
3. JBJ does it again
Porcello couldn’t keep Houston down for much longer, and the Astros high-powered offense finally came alive. They plated one in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth and one in the fifth. The two clubs spent some time trading runs, but Houston lead 5-4 entering the sixth inning.
That’s when the red-hot Jackie Bradley Jr. came to the plate. After a bases-clearing double in Game 1 and a grand slam in Game 3, JBJ did it again in Game 4 with a monster home run to deep right field, his eighth and ninth RBI in three games. The two-run blast put the Red Sox back on top 6-5.
4. Fire the laser
The Red Sox scored a run in the seventh and another in the eighth. Boston, leading 8-5, went to the erratic Craig Kimbrel for the bottom of the eighth, and it looked like things couldn’t have started any worse. Tony Kemp lined Kimbrel’s first offering down the right field line for what looked like surefire extra bases. But Betts wound up making one of the finest plays anyone will ever see, as he quickly corraled the ball and threw an absolute laser to second base to nab Kemp.
5. Holy Benintendi
Despite Betts’ play, the Astros still pushed across a run in the eighth to get it to 8-6. Kimbrel then made a mess of things in the ninth inning, loading the bases while laboring through his second inning of work.
With Boston clinging to a two-run lead, Alex Bregman — arguably the hottest hitter in baseball not named Jackie Bradley — came to the plate. Bregman jumped on the first pitch he saw from Kimbrel, smoking a sinking liner into left field. If the ball got by left fielder Andrew Benintendi, it would have went to the wall and the Astros would have won. The seemingly smart play probably would have been to take it on a hop and keep the tying run at third base. Instead, Benintendi made one of the greatest defensive plays in Red Sox history, sliding and making a sensational catch to end the game and give the Sox a 3-1 series lead.