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5 takeaways as Kyle Schwarber, Red Sox slug their way to big win over Astros in Game 3 of ALCS

Boston
Boston
 2021-10-19

Kyle Schwarber hit the third grand slam of the series as the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead.

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Kyle Schwarber of the Boston Red Sox hits a grand slam home run against the Houston Astros in the second inning of Game Three of the American League Championship Series. Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Here are the takeaways as the Red Sox rolled to a 12-3 victory over the Astros in Game 3 of the ALCS.

The Big Picture

The first nine batters of the game were retired, but the Red Sox got on the board in the second when Christian Vazquez singled in a run with the bases loaded. Another run crossed the plate when José Altuve made his second costly error of the series on a grounder that took a very bad hop but could have been a double play.

Then came the big blow: Kyle Schwarber worked a 3-0 count, then obliterated a pitch to right field.

The Red Sox tacked on three more in the third on an RBI single by Vazquez, followed by a two-run blast by Christian Arroyo over the Monster.

From there, the Red Sox cruised with only a hiccup from Eduardo Rodriguez in the fourth inning when Kyle Tucker got ahold of a three-run homer. J.D. Martinez answered with a two-run shot in the sixth, and Rafael Devers hit a solo homer the opposite way in the eighth.

Star of the Game

Kyle Schwarber — 1-for-4, homer, four RBIs, one run

Schwarber only managed one hit, so all he did was tear into a ball that put the game out of reach in the second inning, which allowed the Red Sox to cruise through the rest of the game without any pressure.

What It Means

The Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the series on a night when Astros ace Lance McCullers Jr. likely would have pitched if he wasn’t out for the ALCS. Now the Astros are in a tough rotational position, the Red Sox are rolling, and fans at Fenway are fired up for Tuesday’s Game 4.

Takeaways

1. The Red Sox are not just mashing, they are doing so at a historic clip. Devers’s eighth-inning homer was the team’s 20th in their last eight games — tying an MLB postseason record. Kiké Hernández alone has five in the postseason. The Red Sox also made history with their third grand slam in a series, becoming the first team to achieve that milestone.

They are also hitting the ball hard. Schwarber’s grand slam was the second-hardest hit ball of the postseason for the Red Sox with an exit velocity of 114 mph per Statcast. The hardest hit? Also Schwarber: A 115.6 mph ground out earlier in the series.

2. Eduardo Rodriguez gave the Red Sox six crucial innings, giving up just five hits and three runs. He struck out seven and walked none — a note of pride for the left-hander.

“That’s something I’ve had trouble with all my career, a lot of walks every time,” Rodriguez told Fox’s Tom Verducci after the game. “… Even when I had guys 3-0, I threw a pitch thinking I’m going to get an out.”

As he exited the game, Rodriguez tapped his wrist — a pointed gesture after he coaxed a groundout from Carlos Correa, imitating the shortstop’s home run celebration.

Alex Cora didn’t appreciate it.

“That was something that’s part of the game — the moment, the atmosphere and everything,” Rodriguez told FOX’s Tom Verducci after the game. “I really want to apologize because I did that, but like I said, it’s just part of the game. Sometimes some things get in your mind and you just do things like that, but I feel bad right now because I did that.

“The good thing is we won the game. Go out and win another one tomorrow.”

Cora clarified that he was, of course, not mad at Rodriguez.

“It’s like he’s one of the twins,” Cora said, referencing his kids. “Don’t do that.”

3. Rodriguez’s steady performance — as well as the dominant hitting — allowed the Red Sox to reset their bullpen. Adam Ottavino warmed up in the fourth and fifth but wasn’t needed. Hansel Robles, Martin Pérez, and Hirokazu Sawamura closed out the game, leaving a host of options available for Tuesday’s game behind starter Nick Pivetta.

The Astros, meanwhile, are in a jam. Zack Greinke is the projected starter, but Greinke has thrown just 49 pitches in the last month as he dealt with a neck injury, as well as a bout with COVID-19. Since the All-Star break, Greinke has an ERA of 5.34 and has given up 14 homers in his last 55.2 innings pitched, including five in the last month.

The Red Sox, of course, have reason to be excited about facing a pitcher giving up a lot of homers.

4. Kiké Hernandez went 2-for-4 once again, maintaining his torrid .500 batting average. Against right-handers in the postseason, he is 15-for-27 with four homers, four doubles, and eight RBIs.

5. The postgame scene was wild on the broadcast, where fans behind Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz roared whenever Ortiz turned around, chanting “Pap-i!” and “A-Rod sucks!” as well as (presumably) numerous obscenities when the broadcast audio cut out.

Rodriguez appeared to take it in stride, but he couldn’t coax cheers out of the crowd even when he stood and pointed to Ortiz wearing a Red Sox helmet. For A-Rod, Boston will always be a tough crowd.

Still, everyone involved probably deserves some credit for powering through, even when their audio was inaudible.

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