HOUSTON — Rookie Luis Garcia exuded the serenity of a pitching ace at the mound as Yordan Alvarez batted everything he saw and the Houston Astros earned another World Series ticket by beating the Boston Red Sox 5-0 to win the American League Championship Series in six games.
The Astros advance to the Major League Baseball Grand Finals for the fourth time in franchise history and the second in three seasons. They won the title in 2017, a championship clouded by a cheating scandal, when an investigation showed they were stealing signals using a video system. In 2019, they returned to the World Series, but lost in seven games to the Washington Nationals.
The team led by manager Dusty Baker will face the winner of the National League Championship Series between the Los Angeles Doders and the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. If the Dodgers win, the series will start in Los Angeles and if the Braves win, the series will start in Houston. The Braves lead the series 3-2.
“There are four wins left on the table. Four more victories to go for,” commented Baker insistently.
Garcia hadn’t allowed the Red Sox a hit until the sixth inning. He gave way to a standing ovation after allowing a triple, with two strikeouts, to Kiké Hernandez. An impressive performance for the 24-year-old gunner who awarded a grand slam in the first set of the second match. He left the game in the second inning with discomfort in his right knee.
On offense, Alvarez continued his demolition work. The designated hitter had four hits, including a triple and two doubles. In Game 5, he drove in three runs on three hits.
Astros catcher Martin Maldonado made the defensive play of the game when he retired a runner attempting to steal second base on a third strike, ending the seventh inning with a double play. The hosts then led 2-0.
That play killed off the biggest threat the Red Sox had runners on ends then. The strikeout of pinch hitter Kendall Graveman and the strikeout at second of Alex Verdugo dashed the visitors’ hopes.
In the next inning, Kyle Tucker opened the valves by slamming a three-run homer after two outs.
Ryan Pressly came to close the books in relief in the ninth inning to eliminate the Red Sox who had only two hits in the game.
Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi made no secret that the loss was painful in the visitors’ locker room. « I think we’re clearly disappointed right now, » he said. We obviously wanted to win this game and win the series to go to the World Series. No one saw us here. We made a lot of people lie. »
For manager Dusty Baker, 72, it will be his second World Series appearance, having led the San Francisco Giants to the National League championship in 2002.
“Hey! I’m going back to the World Series! “, he launched with energy to the crowd of Minute Maid Park.
As a player, Baker had also appeared in the October Classic three times as a Dodgers, winning the title in 1981.