Astros, Valdez Hammer Red Sox, Take 3-2 Lead in ALCS

Framber Valdez was the ace the Astros needed in game five.
Framber Valdez was the ace the Astros needed in game five. Photo by Jack Gorman
The Houston Astros did everything right in a 9-1, wall-to-wall drubbing of the Boston Red Sox in Game 5 of the ALCS. Starter Framber Valdez was spectacular in eight innings of one-run baseball and Yordan Alvarez had three RBIs including an early inning home run over the green monster in Fenway Park.

Prior to Game 5, Astros starters had gone a total of six-and-two-thirds innings in four games. Valdez went eight and was never really in any serious trouble. He got plenty of help from the lineup touching rejuvenated starter Chris Sale for four runs (three earned). Even better, the Astros only needed one reliever ahead of tomorrow's day off and game six on Friday.

After going down 2-1 in the series, the Astros have won two in Boston to take the series lead with a chance to finish it out Friday at Minute Maid Park. Here are four thoughts.

Yordan Alvarez has the best game of his young career.

Alvarez went against the hard throwing lefty in Sale and took a masterful approach, hitting pitches the other direction three different times, the first of which went over the huge wall in left field. At 24-years-old, Alvarez is already drawing comparisons to another big hitter at Fenway Park, David Ortiz. This time, he was doing it for the opposing team.

And Yuli Gurriel is the best hitter in the postseason.

While the Astros young hitter was having his first big game, one of their oldest was having yet another multi-hit game. Gurriel, this year's batting title winner in the regular season, is hitting over .500 for the series and was 3-5 with 3 RBIs on Wednesday. Gurriel, 37, has now become one of the best hitting players over 35 in postseason history.

Plenty of rest for weary pitchers before game six.

One of the great benefits of a starting pitcher eating innings is it gave manager Dusty Baker the opportunity to rest his bullpen, a group that has logged a ton of innings in the ALCS. With only Ryan Stanek getting a single inning on Wednesday and a day off on Thursday, it will reset things for their relief staff for Game 6.

Framber Valdez was everything the Astros needed and more.

Valdez picked the perfect time to have the best game of his postseason career. His sinker was forcing ground ball after ground ball over his eight innings. He was the ace the team has lacked since Lance McCullers was injured. He held Red Sox hitters in check all game long and was nothing short of dominant. And props to Baker for not pulling him early. It was an old school move that paid off big time.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke