Starting any series on the road means it only takes one win to swing home field advantage back in your directions. The Astros needed a split in Boston to accomplish that and they got it taking the first of two games against the Red Sox, and now head back to Houston tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
Game one was about Astros pitching and big bats, a replay of the Astros at their best all season long. Justin Verlander allowed two runs through six innings, though he needed some pretty sharp glove work in the field to help him get through his appearance. The bullpen allowed only one hit in three innings to shut down Boston's powerful offensive attack.
At the plate, it wasn't exactly a perfect night. Hitting only 3 for 10 with runners in scoring position, the Astros held only a slim one-run lead after the sixth until the broke out for four runs in the ninth including home runs from Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick. Both led the team with four RBI as the 'Stros managed to get to Chris Sale enough early and punish a shaky Sox bullpen late.
Game two was a different story. Gerrit Cole, who has been underrated all season playing behind Verlander in the lineup, was not sharp. He managed to go six innings, but not before giving up five runs (four earned) on six hits and two walks. The big hit came in the third when a three-run double off the Green Monster bounced around the outfield and cleared the bases. The Sox would add a pair of insurance run off pitching and fielding miscues. It was a bit of a turn for the Astros after a particularly crisp game one.
In one bit of statistically interesting news, the Astros broke the record for number of consecutive postseason games with at least one home run (14) when Marwin Gonzalez jacked a high long ball over the Monster in game two. It wasn't enough.
The series, however, is far from over and the Astros have managed to wrestle home field advantage away from the Red Sox with the game one victory. The series resumes Tuesday night with Dallas Keuchel on the mound for the Astros. The Red Sox, who have spent a lot of bullpen energy in the first two games, will have some decisions to make on who will start and how they will manage the pen going forward.
Despite the loss in game two, the Astros have put themselves in the driver's seat and have the chance to close out the series at home this week.