Framber tosses gem, gives Astros 3-2 ALCS lead

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The Astros defeated the Red Sox 7-1 on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series to take a three games to two lead. Houston continued their hot-hitting ways, scoring seven times during the contest, but the start of the game was certainly Framber Valdez.

At 27-years-old, Valdez became the youngest starter to go eight-plus innings while allowing one or fewer runs in a postseason game since Madison Bumgarner in the 2016 Wild Card game. The southpaw tossed eight innings of one-run ball, allowing three hits and one walk with five strikeouts.

Houston did not need many runs tonight with Framber on the mound, but they did manage to break through against Chris Sale who allowed four runs -- two earned -- on three hits over 5 1/3 innings. The Red Sox left-hander is usually able to tame left-handed bats during his career, but Yordan Alvarez had other plans on Wednesday. The Houston slugger became just the fourth lefty ever to collect three hits in a game against Sale and only the second to produce seven-plus total bases against him.

Sale pitched better than his final stat line would suggest, but mechanical issues caught up to the left-hander who was clearly fatigued in the sixth inning before his removal. Perhaps Alex Cora should have removed the veteran a bit earlier, but that is an easy call to make after the fact.

Boston would not get their second hit off Valdez until the bottom of the sixth inning and would finally break through on the scoreboard in the seventh when Rafael Devers smashed a sinker for a solo home run that traveled an estimated 402 feet with an exit velocity of 110.7 miles per hour. Devers became only the fourth hitter in the history of baseball to hit eight postseason home runs before turning 25 years old (Mantle, Pujols, and Correa) and set the postseason record for that age group with 26 RBI.

The outing by Valdez can not be underrated as the other Astros starters combined for 6 2/3 innings during the first four games of the ALCS. The Houston left-hander posted eight strong frames on the back of his sinker and curveball combination. This gave the bullpen a much-needed break heading into an off day where they will get even more time to rest heading into Game 6.

Houston has now scored 41 runs this postseason with two outs, which is the sixth-most in a single postseason, which is a tough metric to defeat. Boston will have their hands full to avoid elimination on Friday when they send their ace Nathan Eovaldi to the mound against a yet to be determined opponent.

Braves Take a 3-1 Series Lead in NLCS

Baseball fans have seen this before. Braves fans have seen this before. It was just one year ago when Atlanta took a 3-1 series lead over the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. The Braves even won the same pattern of games this season as compared to last year but talking games one, two, and four. Unfortunately for Atlanta, Los Angeles would go on to win the final three contests in 2020 before going on to win the World Series. This is the do-over that most teams never get the chance to rectify.

After blowing game three late in the game on Tuesday, the Braves had to be feeling nervous when Huascar Ynoa was scratched for Game 4 against 20-game winner Julio Urias. Veteran reliever Jesse Chavez, who had pitched in two of the last three days, was called upon to be the opener.

The Braves' offense came out strong in the face of adversity, scoring one back-to-back home runs off Urias in the second inning Wednesday off the bats of Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall. Atlanta would then add a pair of runs in the third when Freddie Freeman joined the party with a solo blast of his own and Joc Pederson continued to rake with an RBI single.

The closest the Dodgers would get to reclaiming the lead was in the fifth inning when A.J. Pollock hit a two-run single to make the game 5-2. To make things worse, veteran third baseman Justin Turner sustained a Grade 2 hamstring injury in the seventh and will miss the rest of the postseason. Turner was just 3-for-34 in the postseason, but his loss in addition to Max Muncy and Clayton Kershaw has to be difficult to overcome, even for a team rich in-depth like the Dodgers.

Eddie Rosario would end up blowing the game open in the ninth inning when he sent his second home run of the night into the seats to make it a 9-2 affair. Rosario, one of several key outfielders the Braves added before the trade deadline, finished a double shy of the cycle.

The Braves are in a prime position to put away the defending champions in Game 5 when they send left-hander Max Fried to the mound against what will likely be a bullpen day for the Dodgers. Playing a pennant-clinching game in front of a home crowd in Game 6 or 7 may seem exciting, but it would be against Cy Young contenders Max Scherzer and Walker Buehler. A situation to avoid at all costs.

Quick Hits: Yasmani Grandal is expected to be ready for spring training after undergoing right knee surgery … Nick Castellanos is expected to decline his $16 million player option with the Reds to become a free agent … White Sox reliever Evan Marshall will undergo Tommy John surgery … Royals acquired right-hander Zach Willeman from the Dodgers as the player to be named later in the Danny Duffy trade … Tigers prospect Spencer Torkelson left Wednesday's Arizona Fall League game with an ankle injury … The Brewers have parted ways with hitting coach Andy Haines … Carlos Carrasco underwent surgery to remove bone fragments from his right elbow but is expected to be ready for spring training.