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League Championship Series Thoughts 10-20-2021

Astros 9 Red Sox 2 (Series Tied 2-2)

Good old Laz Diaz. He usually finds himself in the middle of something, and usually in a negative manner. Game Four’s home plate umpire missed 23 pitches, whether strikes that should have been called balls, or balls that should have been called strikes. None was more important than the pitch he called a ball from Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi to the Astros’ Jason Castro in a 2-2 game in the top of the ninth. Clearly in the strike zone, the pitch should have ended the inning. Instead, given new life, Castro singled to give Houston the lead and the Astros piled on from there. Game over. Series tied.

So, Game Four will be known as the Laz Diaz game, just as another game four from many moons ago in 1999. In that fateful game, since retired umpired made a crucial call on a “tag” by Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch applied to Boston’s Jose Offerman. This was another potential series altering call.

But let’s also not forget the anemic Red Sox offense after the first inning last night. Boston’s unworldly offense in this postseason was shut down by a plethora of Houston relievers that has suddenly turned this series from what appeared to be a foregone conclusion to anything but. In what has become a disturbing trend on two fronts in these playoffs is Boston’s inability to put a team away by continuing to pile up runs and in holding a late lead. Games 2 and 3 vs Houston were indeed put away early, however, last night, it seemed they had Zach Greinke and relievers on the ropes only to squander opportunities. There was also Game Four against the Rays in the division series in which the Red Sox put up a five run inning and couldn’t score again until the series winning run in the ninth inning. In both games, the Sox had the lead in the eighth inning and couldn’t hold it.

While this series seemed to be tilting in Boston’s favor, we are now in a best-of-3 scenario where both team’s pitching staffs are taxed. Two of these games would be played in Houston. I am much more nervous today than I was yesterday.