THE Boston Red Sox had a grand ol’ time evening the American League Championship Series (ALCS) against the Houston Astros at one win apiece on Saturday.
J.D. Martinez belted a grand slam in the first inning and Rafael Devers added one of his own in the second to power the visiting Red Sox to a 9-5 victory in Game 2 of the ALCS. The blasts made Boston the first team in postseason history to record two grand slams in one game.
Enrique Hernandez continued his torrid stretch by launching his third homer of the ALCS and franchise-tying fifth of the postseason.
The best-of-seven series shifts to Boston for Game 3 on Monday. The Red Sox are 3-0 at home this postseason.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora admitted he’s not ready to declare a starting pitcher for that game, however, he has no qualms about his team’s performance at the plate in the first two contests.
“We feel really good offensively. Yesterday, we played a good game (a 5-4 loss in Game 1) and tonight we did too,” Cora said. “Obviously, going home and guaranteeing three games is very important. It’s now a best out of five, and we play three games out of home.”
The offense was more than enough for Texas native Nathan Eovaldi (2-0), who picked up the win after allowing three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Boston set the tone early by loading the bases before Martinez deposited a 1-0 fastball from rookie Luis Garcia (0-1) over the wall in right field. The grand slam was the first by a Red Sox player in the playoffs since Jackie Bradley, Jr. in Game 3 of the 2018 ALCS.
Boston kept the pressure on in the second inning after Kevin Plawecki worked a walk off Garcia, who exited with right knee discomfort.
“It came to our knowledge that this has kind of been bothering him a little bit on and off, but he hadn’t said anything about it,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of Garcia. “It wasn’t bothering him enough not to pitch.”
Jake Odorizzi relieved Garcia and permitted singles to both Christian Arroyo and Hernandez before Devers sent a 1-1 cutter over the wall in right field.
“That’s a tremendous mountain to climb,” Baker said of the two grand slams.
Hernandez continued his sterling postseason in the fourth inning by crushing a 2-1 splitter from Odorizzi over the wall in left field. The homer was his fifth of this postseason, tying Todd Walker (2003) and David Ortiz (2004, 2013) for the franchise record.
The homer also pushed Hernandez’s total bases mark to 35, which is tied with Daniel Murphy (2015) for second in a seven-game postseason stretch in a single season. Carlos Beltran had 38 in 2004.
“I guess I’m feeling good and the importance of the game is allowing me to stay focused and stay locked in,” Hernandez told the FOX broadcast after the game. “Not thinking too much about it, I’m just glad I’m able to put up good at-bats and get on base or drive myself in to help us win and help us get to this position.”
Houston responded in the fourth inning, courtesy of Kyle Tucker’s two-out, RBI double and Yuli Gurriel’s two-run single.
Eovaldi settled down and two relievers bridged the gap to Darwinzon Hernandez, who yielded solo homers to Gurriel and Jason Castro before Ryan Brasier induced Jose Altuve to fly out to end the game. — Reuters