The Boston Red Sox defeated the Houston Astros 8-6 on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the 2018 American League Championship Series. With the victory, the Red Sox now lead the best-of-seven series by a 3-1 margin. The two sides will play one more game in Houston -- that coming on Thursday -- and that game could well see the Red Sox punch their tickets to the World Series, where they'd await the winner of the Milwaukee Brewers-Los Angeles Dodgers National League Championship Series. The Dodgers lead that series 3-1.
Here's what you need to know about ALCS Game 4.
Bradley comes up big again
Jackie Bradley Jr. hit .234/.314/.403 during the regular season, with 13 home runs and 59 runs batted in. During the ALDS against the New York Yankees, he went 2 for 12 with three walks. Heck, he entered Game 5 with just two hits in the ALCS in 10 tries.
Yet Bradley continues to make his hits count. In Game 2, he drove in three on a double; in Game 3 he hit a grand slam; and in Game 4 he hit a go-ahead two-run home run:
Predictably, Bradley's runs batted in total is getting up there:
It's only Game 4, and Jackie Bradley Jr. already has 9 RBI in this series, the most in any LCS since 2011.— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) October 18, 2018
The record for any postseason series is 13 (Nelson Cruz, 2011 ALCS).
Known more for his glove than his bat, Bradley is making an impact both ways this series. It reaffirms that baseball -- especially the October brand -- doesn't always play out as expected.
Benintendi goes all out to end game
The Astros had the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth down two, and speedy Tony Kemp was on first representing the winning run. Alex Bregman cranked a hit to left field, and most of the people watching probably thought the game was tied.
Then Andrew Benintendi did this:
Boston wins bullpen battle
This was not a game for the starters. Charlie Morton lasted just 2 1/3 innings (allowing three earned runs along the way) and Rick Porcello ducked after giving up four earned runs in four innings. That left the balance of the game in the hands of the bullpens -- and Boston's prevailed.
Joshua James did some good work for the Astros before Bradley Jr. struck, striking out five of the 15 batters he faced. Lance McCullers Jr. and Ryan Pressly then combined for two innings, in which they each gave up an earned run and -- surprisingly, given the quality of their stuff -- failed to strike out anyone. Tony Sipp had some problems in the ninth, but Collin McHugh (and a sprawling Josh Reddick) helped escape the frame before damage was done.
On Boston's side, Ryan Brasier, Joe Kelly, and Matt Barnes combined for three innings while allowing one run. They struck out just two, but that sufficed. (Eduardo Rodriguez also popped his head in for a batter faced, but walked Tony Kemp.) Craig Kimbrel, who seldom works multiple innings, checked in to begin the bottom of the eighth inning, and took it home from there.
Kimbrel's outing wasn't necessarily pretty -- he was aided by a Kemp base-running blunder -- but it was the last piece of the bullpen-heavy puzzle that was Game 4. It's worth noting the Red Sox had David Price warming, putting into question whether he'll start Game 5 and/or whether he would close out Game 4. Such is playoff baseball in 2018.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, an Andrew Benintendi diving catch ended those questions and the game -- with the bases loaded.
A seesaw game
This was a wild, back-and-forth affair. The Red Sox led 2-0 after one and 2-1 after two. The game was tied after three, and the Astros were up 4-3 after four. Boston tied it up again in the top of the fifth, then surrendered the lead once more in the bottom half, giving the Astros a 5-4 lead. In the sixth, Bradley worked his magic to give the Red Sox a one-run lead again, and Boston increased its lead in the seventh. And so on.
The best kinds of playoff games are those where the lead feels like it can change hands during any given half-inning. Using that definition, this was the best kind of playoff game.
Controversial interference call
The Astros homered twice on the afternoon, but the biggest home run of their day was the one that didn't count. In the first inning, Jose Altuve hit a dinger that seemed to tie the game at 2-2.
Except it didn't, because umpire Joe West voided the home run due to fan interference, and the call stood after review.
Take a look:
It seems like West deemed the fan had reached onto the playing field to obstruct with Mookie Betts' attempt at catching the ball. With no conclusive evidence suggesting otherwise, West stuck with the call and ruled Altuve out over fan's interference. Those two runs were erased.
You can read more about the call by clicking here, but this play loomed throughout the game, and is certain to continue to be discussed heading forward.
We mentioned him earlier, but let's give Ryan Brasier some more love here.
Brasier was one of the best stories of the year. He entered his age-30 season as a journeyman right-handed reliever with all of seven big-league appearances under his belt. After a regular season that saw him post a 1.60 ERA in 34 games, he appeared in his seventh postseason game on Wednesday -- and, more importantly, he entered with a perfect ERA. That changed, but oh well.
Brasier's seven appearances tie him for the majors' lead this month with two Brewers relievers. He's appeared in all but one of Boston's postseason games, and it's a safe bet that he'll continue to get burn for as long as the Red Sox remain in the playoffs and he keeps posting zeroes.
Pearce tumbles into dugout
This one doesn't need much explanation. Just watch -- and be thankful Pearce seemed OK after the fact:
Jeez, that's scary.
Red Sox in great shape
If history is any indication, the Red Sox will advance to the World Series. According to the Baseball Gauge, host teams who lead a best-of-seven series have won 37 of 44 attempts -- or 84.1 percent of the series. Nearly half of those series were won in Game 5, with another 32 percent being claimed in Game 6. That's the difference between winning in Houston or winning at home in front of the Boston fans. Either way, the Red Sox would take it.
The Red Sox and Astros will play one more game in Houston on Thursday before potentially moving the series back north to Fenway Park. That game will take place at 8:09 p.m. ET and be televised on TBS. Chris Sale has been ruled out, meaning it's likely to be Price facing off against Justin Verlander. You can stream the game at fuboTV (Try for free).
Relive Game 4
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