The Red Sox didn’t wait long to get the offense going in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros. And they didn’t let up, either, scoring in the second, third, sixth and eighth innings while cracking the Astros for 11 hits.
A monster second inning saw Boston take a 6-0 lead over the visiting Astros at Fenway Park on Monday. That morphed into a 9-0 advantage by the end of the next frame and finished as a 12-3 victory for the Red Sox, who took a 2-1 lead in the series.
Along the way, the Red Sox set a new postseason record by hitting their third grand slam of a single postseason series, courtesy of a Kyle Schwarber blast that concluded the scoring in that second inning. Christian Arroyo, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers also tacked on home runs.
“Offensively, this is the best we’ve been all season,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters after the game, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “They’re locked in right now. The preparation is a lot better right now. The communication, a lot better.
“Now is not about 30 homers or 100 RBIs. Now is about winning four games. They’re doing everything possible in that batter’s box to grind at-bats and to put good at-bats.”
Boston got to Houston starter José Urquidy early, forcing him to throw 46 pitches in the second inning alone — the second-most in a single postseason inning all-time. He finished the night with five earned runs (and a sixth unearned run) on five hits, striking out two and walking one through 1 1/3 innings.
The Astros bullpen didn’t fare much better, with all but one of five relievers allowing a run to the home team. Offensively, the Astros couldn’t match Boston, either. Just three hitters came up in seven of nine innings.
“Today was the closest we’ve been to a perfect game, to be honest with you,” Cora said. “We pitched well. We ran the bases. We were very aggressive in a lot of aspects. Tonight is one of those you feel good about it, but at the same time, like we always do, we’ll turn the page. We’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
Here are more notes from Monday’s Red Sox-Astros game:
— While the Red Sox offense erupted in the second inning, that presented a unique problem for Rodriguez, who had to wait 36 minutes between the bottom of the second and bottom of the third, according to the FS1 broadcast.
He managed just fine, however. Rodriguez lasted six innings with three earned runs on five hits and seven strikeouts and no walks.
— With his solo home run in the eighth inning, Devers logged the 25th postseason RBI of his career. Not only does that set a record for players under 25, but it also puts him among a ton of Red Sox greats — he is tied with Dustin Pedroia for fourth-most behind David Ortiz (57), Manny Ramirez (38) and Jason Varitek (33).
— The Red Sox took the series’ arrival in Boston seriously. Cora wore a pair of Boston sports-inspired sneakers with tributes to the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. The kicks will be auctioned off for More Than Baseball, which supports minor league baseball players.
Plus, an old friend threw out a jaw-dropping first pitch. Red Sox legend Jonathan Papelbon, who is about a month shy of turning 41, threw a 91-mph fastball to ceremoniously open this one up.
— While we’re at it, happy birthday to Cora, who celebrated his 46th birthday Monday.
— Game 4 of the ALCS is Tuesday at 8:08 p.m. ET. Astros manager Dusty Baker said Houston will start Zack Greinke, whose last start came exactly a month ago on Sept. 19. He lasted four innings in that outing, scattering five runs on as many hits.
Nick Pivetta will make his first postseason start for the Red Sox.