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J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers carved their names into the postseason record books on Saturday evening, becoming the first teammates to launch grand slams in the same playoff contest, leading the Red Sox to a 9-5 blowout victory over the Astros in Game 2 of the ALCS. With the victory, the best-of-seven series will shift to historic Fenway Park on Monday night tied at one game apiece. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, coming off a strong performance his last time out against the Rays in Game 4 of the ALDS last week, will get the ball for the Red Sox in Game 3. On the heels of a disappointing loss, the Astros will counter with right-hander Jose Urquidy, who will be making his first start of the postseason.
After the Red Sox’ bats went quiet in the late stages of the series opener, their loaded lineup exploded for 11 hits on Saturday night, marking the fifth consecutive game in which they’ve recorded double-digit hits. Martinez kicked off the scoring with a grand slam to right field, connecting on a 94 mph fastball from rookie righty Luis Garcia with two outs in the opening frame. Devers followed with a grand slam of his own against veteran righty reliever Jake Odorizzi in the ensuing frame. It was the first round-trippers of the postseason for the Red Sox’ slugging tandem and it ostensibly put the contest away early. Not to be outdone, Enrique Hernandez stayed sizzling-hot in this one, clobbering a solo homer to left field -- his third long ball of the series -- off Odorizzi in the fourth inning. He’s registered a playoff-record 15 hits, including nine extra-base hits (five home runs), over his last five games this postseason. Unreal.
With the offense supplying more than enough run support, dynamic right-hander Nathan Eovaldi cruised into the middle innings, allowing three runs on five hits with three strikeouts and only one walk over 5 1/3 innings. He touched triple-digits with his fastball, generated nine swinging strikes and finished with a respectable 29 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). He ran into some trouble in the fourth inning when Kyle Tucker smacked an RBI double and Yuli Gurriel dunked a two-run single into right field with two outs in the frame, but he struck out Chas McCormick to escape the frame without any additional damage. The Red Sox’ bullpen managed to hang on late as Adam Ottavino, Garrett Whitlock, Darwinzon Hernandez and Ryan Brasier combined to collect the final 11 outs of the one-sided affair.
With Lance McCullers Jr. already sidelined for the ALCS with a forearm injury, the Astros’ starting pitching depth took another hit when Garcia departed with a right knee strain in the second inning after throwing just 33 pitches in the lopsided affair. The severity of the injury is unknown, but it seems like the young right-hander could potentially be done for the remainder of the series. Simply put, there’s a lot at stake when manager Dusty Baker hands the ball to Urquidy in Game 3 on Monday night at Fenway Park.
Riley Delivers Walk-Off Hit, Braves Edge Dodgers
Austin Riley went 2-for-4 with a game-tying solo homer and also delivered a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning on Saturday night, propelling the Braves to a dramatic 3-2 walk-off victory in Game 1 of the NLCS against the Dodgers at Truist Park.
Riley slugged a game-tying homer to left field -- his first long ball of the postseason -- off righty reliever Tony Gonsolin in the fourth inning and also came through with a line-drive single into the left-field corner against hard-throwing righty Blake Treinen, plating Ozzie Albies easily to send the Braves home in walk-off fashion in the low-scoring series opener.
While the Dodgers utilized eight relievers in a true bullpen game, Max Fried limited the Dodgers to a pair of runs on eight hits, including a solo homer by Will Smith in the fourth inning, over six solid frames, but was forced to settle for a no-decision. He finished with five strikeouts and didn’t hand out a free pass.
October legend Max Scherzer will start Game 2 of the NLCS on Sunday night against the Braves, which lines up righty Walker Buehler for Game 3 on Tuesday night, followed by lefty Julio Urías in Game 4 on Wednesday evening. The 37-year-old workhorse will be pitching on an extra day of rest after throwing 13 pitches on Thursday night to record his first career save in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Giants. He’s allowed just two runs on six hits with a 16/4 K/BB ratio across 12 1/3 innings (three appearances, two starts) this postseason.
The Braves will turn to righty Ian Anderson for Game 2 on Sunday night. The 23-year-old righty tossed five scoreless innings to pick up a win in the Braves' NLDS Game 3 victory over the Brewers earlier this week. He holds a microscopic 0.76 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 30/10 K/BB ratio across 23 2/3 innings (five starts) over the last two postseasons combined. The decision will give veteran righty Charlie Morton an extra day of rest before taking the ball for Game 3 on Tuesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
MLB Quick Hits: Ian Anderson will start Game 2 of the NLCS on Sunday night against the Dodgers. … Astros manager Dusty Baker said Saturday that Jose Urquidy will start Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday against the Red Sox. … Max Muncy (elbow) has been left off the Dodgers' roster for the NLCS against the Braves. … Jorge Soler (COVID-19) has been left off the Braves' roster for the NLCS against the Dodgers. … Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said Friday that Christian Yelich experienced "no physical limitations" impacting his on-field performance this past season. … Jose Quintana has elected free agency.