Astros Vs. Red Sox

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora argues a strike three call with umpire Joe West during the fifth inning in Game 1 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros on Saturday Oct. 13 2018 in Boston. (AP

He slammed down his helmet and bat down and jawed with plate umpire James Hoye before Red Sox coaches ran in to get between them.

West, with the reaction time of continental drift, made practically no effort to dodge the baseball and ultimately just kind of leaned into it. On most staffs, Cole would be the unquestioned No. 1, but the reigning champion Astros happen to have Verlander. If the ball didn't hit West it would have sailed out into the outfield, as it was sailing wide right of the bag - which could have potentially given Marisnick another base. "I can pitch anybody at any time", said manager A.J. Hinch. "They got [Ryan] Pressly in the bullpen".

Needless to say, if the Red Sox don't pitch better, hit better or field better, they won't stand a chance against the Astros.

In a series where the Red Sox need to find some semblance of hardball perfection to keep their dream season alive, the opening game of the American League Championship playoff was anything but ideal.

Many in Boston's vociferous media chattering class called for Price to be pulled from the rotation and wondered why a guy with such a bummer of a playoff history was given the start in the first place.

The end result also was misleading given that the Astros added four runs on a pair of ninth-inning homers, the first extra-base hits of a weird night at the grand but glum old ballpark.

Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora argues a strike three call with umpire Joe West during the fifth inning in Game 1 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros on Saturday Oct. 13 2018 in Boston
Astros top Red Sox 7-2 in Game 1 of ALCS

"But you can't argue balls and strikes".

Houston took advantage of another hit batter in the sixth - this one by reliever Joe Kelly - and Nunez's fielding error on Gurriel's grounder to take a 3-2 lead.

Game 1 ended up hinging on two freakish and slow half-frames-the bottom of the fifth and the top of the sixth-in which Boston tied things up against Verlander, only to give the lead right back to Houston. He has allowed only nine hits in his past four postseason starts, matching Don Larsen (1955-57) as the only pitchers to allow nine hits over a span of four-postseason starts, according to STATS.

Verlander cruised through the first four innings, throwing just 48 pitches and retiring 10 straight at one point while holding a 2-0 lead. We're not gonna give up. Price just doesn't win in the postseason.

The vaunted Verlander focus certainly wasn't sidetracked by the 108-win Red Sox and the sellout crowd at Fenway. Chris "Sale was off.There was a walk there by (Ryan) Brasier to (Carlos) Correa, which we don't mind".

"I did expect to make more starts for us in this year's playoffs", Price said, "but Alex told me before we even got off the field that night, so for him to tell me before we even took our jerseys off to put on our postseason shirts, that was special".

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