Red Sox Notes: Astros Win ‘Battle Of Bullpen’ In Game 1 Of ALCS

The Red Sox used eight pitchers in total to get through as many innings


October 16, 2021

Game 1 of the American League Championship Series looked pretty standard from what some might start to expect from the Boston Red Sox.

A long game, tied late, with seemingly every arm available making an appearance in relief.

Unfortunately, the Houston Astros were in the same boat, and for a change, it was Boston’s opponent who managed the go-ahead runs which ultimately accounted for a 5-4 win.

“It became a battle of the bullpen,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said.

The Red Sox used eight pitchers in total to get through as many innings. The Astros, meanwhile, countered with eight of their own. Neither starting pitcher from either team made it beyond 2 2/3 innings, and finding 27 outs to win it wasn’t easy.

Alex Cora’s usual strategy of aggressively managing his pitchers didn’t pay off tonight like it did in the AL Division Series. But Saturday is another day.

“It’s hard but we’ve done it before,” Cora said postgame. “So, you know, we just got to keep doing that. Of course we want our starters to go deeper in the game but we felt like today we were very close to pull this off pitching-wise.”

The Red Sox aren’t worried about falling to a 1-0 deficit in the series, though. They’ve been bouncing back as well as anyone.

“I mean we started the season 0-3 and the sky was falling, you know, after three games,” Cora said. “Nah, we have a good baseball team. And I think, on a daily basis, regardless of the results we stay in the moment. You win, you turn the page, you prepare for tomorrow. You lose, you turn the page, and you prepare for tomorrow. So they’ve done an amazing job since day one of the season.”

Here are more notes from Game 1 of the ALCS:

— Silver linings for Boston? Look no further than Kiké Hernández, who just will not quit.

He hit a 448-foot solo home run in the top of the third to get the Red Sox on the board and tie the game — immediately following the , and he finished the game hitting 4-for-5 with two run and two RBI — which helped him set a new MLB record. He had another solo shot in the ninth to make it a one-run game, and was just a triple short of the cycle.

As Cora put it: “Enrique right now is en fuego.”

— This wasn’t the redemption start Chris Sale had hoped for, certainly, but he got out of his outing having only allowed one run. Unfortunately, he made it just 2 2/3 innings after giving up five hits.

“Obviously he wants more, right?” Cora said. “He wants to go deeper into the game but where we were bullpen-wise and the matchups that we had, we felt like that was the right time to take him out. But I do believe he threw the ball a lot better. So he’ll be ready for his next one and, like I said, this guy we count on him, and I think he made some good strides.”

— Well, Sawamura returned to the mound for the Red Sox in the ALCS after falling out of favor the last few months and not making the ALDS roster. Unfortunately, that rust looked apparent in the bottom of the eighth when he came out in relief and loaded the bases with no outs thanks to a hit batter.

— The Red Sox and Astros play Game 2 of the seven-game series Saturday with first pitch slated for 4:20 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images
Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale
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