2021 MLB Playoffs: ALCS Recap, Astros Clinch Third AL Pennant In Five Years
Houston Astros, 2021 Playoffs
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The American League Championship Series was an electric offensive battle. Going in, the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox both had strengths at the plate and weaknesses on the mound. That absolutely showed, as at least nine total runs were scored in all but one game.

The Red Sox absolutely put up a valiant fight, forcing the series to six games and heading back to Houston, but the Astros had too much firepower. After scoring 36 runs over six games, the Astros won the AL pennant for the third time in five years and head back to the World Series, where they await the winner of the NLCS.

Game-By-Game Recap

Game 1 was the only game of this series decided not via a blowout. It was close throughout, as neither team ever had a lead of larger than two runs. Yordan Alvarez started the scoring with a sac fly in the first inning, but the Red Sox responded with three runs in the third frame. One of them was a Kike Hernandez home run.

The Astros would fight back with a two-run home run by Jose Altuve, a solo shot by Carlos Correa, and a sacrifice fly by Altuve. Hernandez would hit his second homer of the night to make it 5-4, but it wasn’t enough as the Astros took a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 began a string of outings that were not necessarily close. The Red Sox attacked right out of the gate, hitting grand slams in the first and second inning. J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers were the heroes, combining for eight RBIs in two innings.

The Astros managed to score their runs, but they couldn’t catch up to Boston. The Red Sox won 9-5 and knotted the series at a game apiece.

Game 3 — the first at Fenway Park — saw more early-game attacks from the Red Sox. This included six runs in the second inning, thanks to yet another grand slam. This one was hit by trade deadline acquisition Kyle Schwarber.

By the end of the third inning, the Red Sox were up 9-0. For the first time all postseason, the Astros looked beatable, as Boston won 12-3 and took a 2-1 series lead with two more games at Fenway.

Game 4 was a chance for the Red Sox to put their stamp on the series and take complete control. Instead, their pitching faltered late and their offense was unable to repeat the magic from the two games prior. Outside of a first inning, two-run homer by Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox did not score a run.

Despite that, this game was close for nearly its entire duration. Heading into the top of the ninth, the game was tied at 2. A potential missed strike call allowed the Astros to continue hitting in the top of the ninth, and that’s when they took off, scoring seven runs in the frame. They won 9-2 with the game forever marred in controversy.

Even with all of that, the Red Sox still had a game at home with series tied 2-2, a perfect chance to put some pressure on the Astros heading back to Houston.

Instead, the Astros took control of the game and never let it go. Framber Valdez was absolutely elite on the mound for Houston, and the offense scored nine runs, largely thanks to a 3-for-5 night from Alvarez. The Astros won 9-1 to take a 3-2 series lead back home.

By this point, the Red Sox were on the ropes, having lost two straight by a total score of 18-3. Despite that, the formula in Game 6 did not change even slightly. Astros pitching — namely starter Luis Garcia — was incredible, shutting out the offense-heavy Red Sox.

Meanwhile, Alvarez was phenomenal again, going 4-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. The Astros won 5-0 to win the series 4-2 and clinch their spot in the 2021 World Series.

Alvarez took home ALCS MVP honors, batting an absurd .522 for the series.

Dodgers-Braves in progress

The Astros now wait on a winner from the NLCS, featuring the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves. While the Braves have become somewhat of a fan favorite due to their cinderella-like story, the Dodgers and Astros would make for a compelling rematch of the 2017 World Series.

As it stands, the Braves lead the Dodgers 3-2 with the final two games in Atlanta.

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