Boston’s outfielders at home in the MLB playoffs in Houston in game 4 of the ALCS

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 17: Fans get in the way as Boston Red Sox player Mookie Betts tries to catch a fly ball by the Astros' Jose Altuve in the first inning. The Houston Astros host the Boston Red Sox in Game Four of the ALCS at Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX on Oct. 17, 2018. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 17: Fans get in the way as Boston Red Sox player Mookie Betts tries to catch a fly ball by the Astros' Jose Altuve in the first inning. The Houston Astros host the Boston Red Sox in Game Four of the ALCS at Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX on Oct. 17, 2018. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images) /
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Boston’s outfielders provide the decisive edge in the MLB playoffs as the Red Sox hold off Houston 8-6 to snare a 3-1 lead in the ALCS

Right now, Red Sox outfielders like Houston a lot more than Houston likes Red Sox outfielders in the MLB playoffs.

Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts all played pivotal roles as the Red Sox beat Houston 8-6 to move within a game of the American League pennant. They can wrap it up by winning a third straight game in the Astrodome Thursday night.

For the second straight night, Bradley hit the key home run. Betts and Benintendi. meanwhile, both made critical defensive plays that turned the Astros back.

Bradley’s two-run home run in the sixth gave Boston a 6-5 lead the Red Sox never relinquished. Bradley finished the night with two walks and a hit batsman in addition to his home run. Betts was involved in two pivotal defensive plays, and Benintendi made the final out, plucking Alex Bregman‘s sinking liner off the Minute Maid Field turf for the final out with the bases full. Had he failed on the diving attempt, the Astros probably would have scored all three game-winning runs. Benintendi also contributed two doubles, scoring both times.

Rafael Devers jump-started the offense with a first-inning single that drove home Betts and J.D. Martinez, who had reached on a hit batter and the first of seven Boston walks that supplemented 11 Red Sox hits.

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Houston would have tied the game in the bottom half but for a controversial call by right field umpire Joe West, who ruled that fans interfered with Betts’ leaping attempt to catch

Jose Altuve

’s drive above the wall. The call stood when replay failed to produce an angle showing whether the fans reached over the barrier to tip Betts’ glove or whether Betts reached into the stands in his effort to make the catch.

The Astros broke through against Red Sox starter Rick Porcello for a run in the second on Carlos Correa’s RBI single that drove in Josh Reddick, who had doubled. In the third, Benintendi and Xavier Bogaerts doubled to make it 3-1, then George Springer homered and Reddick drove Altuve home to tie the game.
Tony Kemp’s fourth inning home run moved Houston in front, but Bogaerts’ run-producing single with Benintendi at second re-tied matters in the fifth. In the Houston half, Correa singled home Yuli Gurriel, putting Houston up 5-4, but that only set the stage for Bradley’s homer in the sixth.

The Astros would have had a fighting chance if they had held the Red Sox there, but it was not to be. In the seventh, Martinez’ single preceded three walks, the last issued by Lance McCullers, that made the lead two runs. It became three in the eighth when Martinez’s second hit drove in Betts, who had singled.
Kemp’s baserunning blunder undermined a potential rally in the bottom of that inning. He sent a hit toward the right field corner, but was thrown out by Betts trying to stretch it into a double. The mis-judgment became critical when Alex Bregman walked and Springer doubled, a hit that would have scored Kemp. Bregman did manage to score on a ground out, but Kimbrel ended the inning without further damage.

How the Astros were built. dark. Next

Justin Verlander will try to maintain Houston’s hopes of becoming the first repeat World Series winner since the 1998-99-2000 Yankees when he takes the mound in the MLB playoffs Thursday.