Astros beat Red Sox in ALCS, advance to 2021 World Series

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Astros beat Red Sox in ALCS, advance to World Series originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Houston Astros are going back to the World Series.

Houston defeated the Boston Red Sox 5-0 in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on Friday night for the franchise’s third AL pennant in the last five years.

The Astros jumped out to an early lead in Game 6. Yordan Alvarez, who went 4-for-4 and finished a homer shy of the cycle, hit an RBI double off of Nathan Eovaldi in the first inning.

After adding an insurance run on a double play in the sixth, Kyle Tucker got the celebration in Houston started early by blasting a three-run shot in the eighth.

Meanwhile, Houston's pitching staff completely shut down Boston's offense once again, surrendering just two hits and two walks to the Sox. Starter Luis Garcia carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and struck out seven over 5.2 one-hit innings. Four Astros relievers combined for 3.1 more scoreless innings, with Ryan Pressly closing the door in the ninth.

The turning point of the series came late in Game 4. With Boston on the verge of taking a 3-1 series lead, Jose Altuve hit a game-tying solo home run off reliever Garrett Whitlock in the eighth inning. Then, in the ninth, the Astros reeled off seven runs en route to a 9-2 win, evening up the ser­ies at 2-2. Houston followed up that comeback victory with a 9-1 Game 5 win before closing out the series in Game 6. From the eighth inning of Game 4 through the end of the ALCS, Houston outscored Boston 22-1.

Now, this Astros core of Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel will try to win its second championship together. The group won the franchise’s first World Series in 2017 by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games, a title that’s since been tainted by the club’s sign-stealing scandal.

Two years later, Houston lost the 2019 World Series to the Washington Nationals in seven games. In the offseason following that World Series loss, manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow received one-year suspensions while the Astros were fined $5 million and docked several draft picks as a result of MLB’s investigation into Houston’s aforementioned sign stealing. Hinch and Luhnow were also fired by the Astros.

After hiring Dusty Baker as manager and James Click as GM, the Astros went 29-31 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season before falling to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS in seven games. The Astros rebounded strongly in 2021, going 95-67 en route to a fourth AL West title in five years. In the ALDS, they beat the AL Central champion Chicago White Sox in four games to reach their fifth consecutive ALCS.

Baker will be making just his second World Series appearance over his 24-year managerial career. He was the skipper of the 2002 San Francisco Giants team that lost to the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series in seven games.

Baker’s Astros will face the winner of the Dodgers-Braves NLCS showdown. The Braves hold a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 set for Saturday at 8:08 p.m. ET in Atlanta. If necessary, Game 7 will take place on Sunday at 7:38 p.m.

Game 1 of the World Series is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 26.