What a game. 

The Astros beat the Red Sox in Game 4 of the ALDS Monday afternoon, mostly in the rain, 5-4 (box score). It was a highly-dramatic affair with two high-profile lead changes. In the end, the Astros take the series, 3-1, and advance to the American League Championship Series. 

Here is what you need to know about the game. 

Aces in relief pave way for drama

The big stories all revolve around the Game 1 starters, even though this was Game 4. Chris Sale came in for the fourth inning and dominated the powerful Astros offense for four innings. 

Sale's line through those first four in relief: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K

Of course, notice I said "first" four innings. Maybe the Red Sox tried to get too much out of him, because Alex Bregman took him deep to tie the game in the eighth inning. 

On the other side, Astros manager A.J. Hinch threw Justin Verlander into a mild jam and the result cost his team the lead. With one out and a runner on base in the fifth inning, Hinch lifted starter Charlie Morton in favor of Verlander. It should be noted that Verlander had never appeared in relief in a big-league game, regular season or postseason. The first hitter he faced was Andrew Benintendi and he altered the game with one crack of the bat: 

Verlander would settle in after that, so one has to wonder about putting him into a dirty inning like that instead of having him start fresh. Pitchers are creatures of habit, after all. 

Not that it buried the mighty Astros, because ... 

Astros rally off Sale, Kimbrel

Bregman homered to start the eighth and ruin the Chris Sale Redemption outing. Remember, Bregman also homered off Sale to start the series, so this was bookended in a way. The Game 4 blast over the Green Monster was a huge blow and totally swung the momentum toward the visitors. They are objectively the better team anyway, so they just needed that spark. 

Here it was: 

After a groundout, Evan Gattis singled off Sale and the Red Sox turned to closer Craig Kimbrel. He was throwing hard, but had no command at all to start. With two outs, a wild pitch moved pinch runner Cameron Maybin to second and then Kimbrel walked George Springer

Josh Reddick then came through with a big-boy at-bat, fouling off four Kimbrel offerings before singling home Maybin for the lead. 

The Astros would tack one on in the top of the ninth for some much-needed insurance, as Rafael Devers' inside-the-park home run to lead things off in the ninth cut the lead back to one. 

Those late runs off Sale and Kimbrel were the difference. 

From the perspective of the Red Sox, the Astros just beat the best they had. It's tough to take, but it's also the reality and sometimes you just have to accept it. 

Astros scored in first again

The Astros scored two runs in the first inning in Game 1 of the series. They did it again in Game 2. They got three in the first of Game 3 on Sunday, so why would Game 4 be any different?

George Springer led off the game with a double off the Green Monster and ended up scoring on a Jose Altuve double play. Yet again, the Astros led in the first inning. This is a bit funny: 

Bogaerts' homer was a rare one

The Red Sox quickly tied things up with a Xander Bogaerts home run in the bottom of the first. He hit it into the bullpen in right-center field.

This one was pretty unexpected, too. Bogaerts had never previously recorded a postseason home run, he had just four homers and a .347 slugging percentage since the All-Star break in the regular season and then it was also to right field: 

Seeing something that's never happened before is always fun. 

Farrell ejected

Speaking of rarities, Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected while protecting Dustin Pedroia from the same fate in the second inning. Full story here.

Red Sox ran into a third out

With two outs and Mitch Moreland on second in the bottom of the third inning, Hanley Ramirez singled to left field. The ball was right at Astros left fielder Marwin Gonzalez, but Moreland was sent home anyway and hosed at the plate: 

This looks like an awful send. Rafael Devers was on deck and he got a good swing on Charlie Morton in the second inning. Still, if that throw is five feet either way of the catcher, the Red Sox tied the game. Sometimes you have to force the opponent to make a play that's what happened here. 

Now that they lost by one run, this play will continue to attract scrutiny.

Red Sox starters were awful

Rick Porcello lasted just three innings, giving up five hits and two earned runs. It should have been worse, but the Astros left six men on base in those three innings. Regardless, that's a bad outing and it fit in pretty well with what's been going on in this series. 

Looping in Chris Sale in Game 1, Drew Pomeranz in Game 2 and Doug Fister in Game 3 along with Porcello, here's the line of the Red Sox starters this postseason: 

11 1/3 innings, 23 hits, 16 earned runs, six walks, 12 strikeouts, six home runs allowed, 12.70 ERA, 2.56 WHIP

Yuck. Tough to win a series like that. 

Astros wait

The series is over and the Astros are in the ALCS for the first time in franchise history. They've been to the NLCS and World Series before, but not since the league switch have they gotten this far. 

The Astros don't know if they'll be home or away for Games 1 and 2 just yet, either. They await the winner of the Yankees-Indians series. Game 1 will be either Yankees at Astros or Astros at Indians on this coming Friday.