Clock strikes midnight on Sox’ Cinderella run as Boston falls in ALCS Game 6

Season ends with 5-0 loss in Houston

HOUSTON — The Boston Red Sox saw their Cinderella run come to an end on Friday night as they fell to the Houston Astros, 5-0, in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. The loss eliminates Boston from the postseason and sends them back home for the winter.

The Astros, meanwhile, will return to the World Series for the third time in five seasons. Houston won the Fall Classic in 2017 over the Los Angeles Dodgers – who will try to repeat as champions if they can overcome the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS – before falling to the Washington Nationals in the 2019 World Series.

For the Red Sox, their undoing was similar to that of Game 5: Houston designated hitter Yordan Alvarez. The cleanup hitter was true to his role in Game 6, stroking an RBI double to deep center in the first inning for the game’s first – and winning – run. He also came around to score in the sixth inning to push the lead to 2-0 after a leadoff triple.

When the game was over, Alvarez was named the ALCS MVP.

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Boston’s bats largely fell silent for the third straight contest as the Sox mustered no runs on just two hits. It was a far cry from Game 2 and Game 3, where Boston tallied nine and 12 runs, respectively.

Much like Game 5, it was the Astros’ starter who kept the Boston offense at bay for most of the contest. And while Framber Valdez turned in an 8-inning gem on Wednesday, RHP Luis Garcia went 5.2 innings while surrendering just one hit in Friday’s outing.

The lone blemish on his record was a two-out triple by Kiké Hernandez in the sixth, which was promptly erased on a next-pitch pop out by Rafael Devers.

Opposingly, Nathan Eovaldi turned in a solid performance for the Red Sox that went unsupported by the offense. The hard throwing righty ended the day with this final line: 4.1 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB and 4 K.

The true dagger for Boston came in the top of the seventh with one out. With JD Martinez at third and Alex Verdugo at first, Travis Shaw dug in as the pinch hitter. Facing a full count, Shaw struck out on a four-seam fastball as Verdugo darted for second base. Houston catcher Martín Maldonado immediately sprung up and hurled the ball to second in time to cut Verdugo down and end the threat.

The strike-’em-out-throw-’em-out ended what was Boston’s best chance to score in the tight contest and all but ended their season. The final nail in the coffin was a 3-run home run by Kyle Tucker in the bottom of the eighth to push the score to 5-0.

The Sox captured the city’s attention and hearts once again this October despite falling two wins short of the pennant. Their back-from-the-dead end of the season saw them clinch a postseason spot on the final day of the regular season, eliminate the rival Yankees at a raucous Wild Card Game, and beat a Tampa Bay Rays team that was the best squad in the AL.

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Despite expectations for a rebuilding year headed into the season, the Red Sox proved many pundits and doubters wrong with their hot first half. And while they cooled and floated in and out of playoff contention following the All-Star break, their wild run to the late stages of the ALCS kept them firmly in the forefront of New Englanders’ minds and hearts through late October.

For now, it’s ‘wait ‘till next year’ for Red Sox fans. But the memories of a seemingly out-of-nowhere pennant chase will warm many a frozen soul in New England in the months to come as they wait for hope springs eternal once again and an Opening Day that in 2022 won’t just bring promise – but expectation.

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Live Updates:

11:40 p.m.: Xander Bogaerts flies out to left and that’s it for the ALCS as the Sox fall 5-0 in Game 6 and see their season come to an end.

11:25 p.m.: Kyle Tucker makes it 5-0 with what looks to be the dagger, a 3-run homer to LF in the bottom of the eighth.

10:45 p.m.: The Red Sox, with runners on the corners and 1 out, still trailed by a pair of runs in the seventh and had their best chance to get on the board. What happened instead was a seismic shift in momentum the other way as Travis Shaw struck out and Alex Verdugo was promptly thrown out at second base to end the threat in the blink of an eye. 2-0 Houston still.

10:22 p.m.: A line drive to first base is knocked down by Kyle Schwarber, who gets two outs but can’t get the third at home as Alvarez scores from third to make it 2-0 Houston.

10:15 p.m.: Alvarez gets Boston again, destroying a leadoff triple to a vacant right field to open the bottom of the sixth and chasing Josh Taylor. Tanner Houck in to pitch now for the Red Sox.

10:07 p.m.: Devers pops out on the first pitch he sees, stranding Hernandez on third and keeping the Red Sox off the board going into the bottom of the inning. 1-0 Houston still as Garcia’s day ends after 5.2 IP. He allowed just one hit, walked one, and struck out seven.

10:04 p.m.: Sox get their first hit of the day on a triple by Kiké Hernandez. Garcia out of the game now with 2 outs in the top of the sixth.

9:50 p.m.: Taylor gets the final two outs of the fifth and Eovaldi’s final line reads: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.

9:45 p.m.: Nate Eovaldi departs the contest after 4.1 IP. He’s surrendered one earned run, though the runner at first is his responsibility as Josh Taylor comes in to face Michael Brantley.

9:40 p.m.: Red Sox offense doesn’t do anything with the Eovaldi momentum in the top of the fifth, get sat down 1-2-3 by Garcia once again.

9:30 p.m.: Nate Eovaldi strands the bases loaded in the fourth after two runners reached scoring position with no one out. We head to the fifth with Houston still leading, but just 1-0.

9:10 p.m.: The Red Sox are being no-hit through four innings in Houston as Luis Garcia has racked up four strikeouts thus far.

8:30 p.m.: Alvarez strokes an RBI double to deep center to put the Astros up, 1-0. Hernandez had a chance to catch the flyball and escape the inning, but the ball kicked off the heel of his glove, allowing Bregman to come home.

8:15 p.m.: Jose Altuve makes a diving stop in the shift to steal a hit away from Kiké Hernandez in the top of the first.

6 p.m.: Warmups are under way for the Red Sox ahead of Game 6.

5 p.m.: The lineups are set ahead of a do-or-die Game 6 in the ALCS for the Red Sox. Here’s who they’ll roll out:

  1. Kyle Schwarber, 1B
  2. Kiké Hernandez, CF
  3. Rafael Devers, 3B
  4. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  5. J.D. Martinez, DH
  6. Alex Verdugo, LF
  7. Christian Arroyo, 2B
  8. Hunter Renfroe, RF
  9. Kevin Plawecki, C

And here’s how Houston will set their lineup for Game 6:

  1. Jose Altuve, 2B
  2. Michael Brantley, LF
  3. Alex Bregman, 3B
  4. Yordan Alvarez, DH
  5. Carlos Correa, SS
  6. Kyle Tucker, RF
  7. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
  8. Chas McCormick, CF
  9. Martín Maldonado, C

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