World Series bound! Astros beat Red Sox to win AL pennant

Astros

The Houston Astros celebrate their win against the Boston Red Sox n Game 6 of baseball’s American League Championship Series Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, in Houston. The Astros won 5-0, to win the ALCS series in game six. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON (KIAH) — For the fourth time in the team’s history and the third time in the last five years, the Houston Astros are again headed to the World Series. 

The Astros closed out the American League Championship Series with a 5-0 win in Game 6 over the Boston Red Sox Friday night at Minute Maid Park, winning the series 4-2. Houston will now wait for its opponent in the Fall Classic, either the Atlanta Braves or the Los Angeles Dodgers.  

The Astros scored first on an RBI double by Yordan Alvarez that brought home Alex Bregman. Alvarez also was involved in Houston’s second run, getting a leadoff triple in the sixth inning and later coming home on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Kyle Tucker to put the Astros up 2-0. 

Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez celebrates after s double against the Boston Red Sox during the fourth inning in Game 6 of baseball’s American League Championship Series Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Red Sox could not muster much offense thanks in part to the strong pitching effort of Luis Garcia, who held Boston without a hit for the first 5 2/3 innings. He left the game after Boston’s Kike Hernandez hit a two-out triple in the sixth inning but was left stranded. 

A key play came in the seventh inning when the Red Sox had runners on the corners and one out, and Astros reliever Kendall Graveman got a strikeout and catcher Martin Maldonado threw out Alex Verdugo at second base, who was trying to steal second. 

Tucker put the icing on the Astros’ cake with a three-run home run in the eighth inning.

Gravemen, Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressley threw perfect frames in the last three innings to close out the game and seal the pennant for Houston. 

Game 1 of the World Series is scheduled to be on Tuesday. If the Braves win the National League pennant, the Astros will host the first two games. But if the Dodgers win the NLCS, they will have home field.  

The Astros, buoyed by their young pitchers and rediscovered offense, won the next two games by a combined 18-3 to return home a win away from a World Series. Then their rising 24-year-old stars, García and Alvarez, did the rest.

Houston had a chance to add to the lead in the fourth when Bregman singled and another double by Alvarez left him at third with no outs. But they came up empty after Nathan Eovaldi worked out of the jam.

Houston Astros’ Kyle Tucker celebrates a three-run home run against the Boston Red Sox during the eighth inning in Game 6 of baseball’s American League Championship Series Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Alvarez tripled with no outs in the sixth to chase Josh Taylor and Tanner Houck plunked Correa. Tucker then smacked a grounder right at first baseman Kyle Schwarber who tagged Correa for the unassisted double play as Alvarez slid safely into home to make it 2-0.

Eovaldi got the win in a solid Game 2 start but was charged with the loss in Game 4 after giving up the go-ahead runs after coming in with the game tied in the ninth.

On Friday, he permitted five hits and one run as the Red Sox lost a playoff game where he started for the first time after entering the game 5-0 in his starts.

García is the first pitcher to take a no-hitter into sixth of a potential playoff clincher since the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard got two outs in sixth against the Giants in 2016 NL wild-card game.

García allowed Schwarber to reach on a wild pitch after a strikeout to open the game and walked Verdugo with one out in the second. He settled in after that, sitting down the next 13 with five strikeouts, before Hernández got Boston’s first hit on a triple with two outs in the sixth. García finished with seven strikeouts.

Phil Maton took over and retired Rafael Devers to end the inning.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

Boston manager Alex Cora has heard the speculation that the Astros are relaying signs from the bases and said the Red Sox protect themselves against that.

“It’s not about technology or other stuff,” Cora said. “There’s stuff that happens on the field that you have to be guarded. The same way that teams play defense against us, we play defense against other teams. Not only them we did it against the Yankees, we did it against the Rays. It’s the nature of the game. We’re prepared for that.”

Cora knows better than most about Houston’s sign-stealing history having been the team’s bench coach during the 2017 season when they were found to have violated rules by using a television camera to steal catchers’ signs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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