Red Sox bash host Astros to capture Game 3 of the ALCS

HOUSTON — These Red Sox seem to treat imposing road locales with the same laissez-faire attitude that Rocky Balboa treated Russia when he took on Ivan Drago.

Fresh off their demystifying of Yankee Stadium, the Sawx battered the Astros, 8-2 in American League Championship Series Game 3 Tuesday at the Texas-tinged curiosity that is Minute Maid Park. With a 2-1 lead in games, Boston has ensured that this series will return to Fenway Park for a Game 6 — unless the Red Sox can win out in Games 4 and 5.

The Red Sox are 3-0 on the road so far in this postseason, having defeated the Yankees twice in the AL Division Series; the Yankees put up a 54-28 record at the Stadium, and the Astros were 48-35 at Minute Maid Park, though they have been an even better 59-25 away from home.

Steve Pearce, briefly a Yankee in 2012, walloped a towering homer in the sixth inning — off former Met Joe Smith — that traveled an estimated 456 feet, just stayed inside the foul pole and broke a 2-2 tie. The Red Sox wouldn’t trail again. They put the game out of reach with a five-run eighth inning, featuring a Jackie Bradley Jr. grand slam, off loathed Astros reliever Roberto Osuna.

Another former Yankee, Nathan Eovaldi, picked up the victory for the Red Sox with a stellar, six-inning performance. The fireballing right-hander, trolled on Monday by charismatic Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, failed to retire the 2018 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player in three at-bats, as Bregman notched a single, double and walk. Nevertheless, Eovaldi, whom the Red Sox acquired from the Rays in late July, gave up only two runs on six hits and two walks, striking out four — four more than Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, who allowed two runs in five innings.

Bregman had just tied the game with his fifth-inning two-bagger — though a different official scorer might have charged Red Sox third baseman Eduardo Nunez (yet another ex-Yankee) an error for failing to stop the hard grounder that skidded into the left-field corner, allowing Jose Altuve to come around from first base — when Pearce got his chance with one out in the sixth. Smith, having replaced Keuchel for the start of the inning, was pitching in his first game since Sept. 29.

And Pearce turned on a 1-0 fastball, his right hand letting go of the bat as he connected, and watched it — a la Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series, as Major League Baseball’s Twitter account acknowledged — to ensure that it remained fair. It somehow did, and Pearce had an October moment to remember.

Game 3 began as a slugfest/slogfest, with the first inning taking 32 minutes to complete as the Red Sox scored two runs, string together three hits and a Xander Bogaerts groundout, and the Astros one, courtesy of three singles. Eovaldi and Keuchel hung around and gained control of the game, however, with some help from their friends. Nunez, before missing on Bregman’s double, made a number of good plays before departing the game in the fourth inning. And his counterpart Bregman played an even more impressive hot corner, registering highlight after highlight to keep his team in the game.

Bregman couldn’t go deep against Eovaldi as he and teammates George Springer and Jose Altuve had back in June, however — the back-to-back-to-back event he posted on Instagram on Monday — and for all the old-school love of making contact, the Red Sox’s ability to hit the ball out of the yard made the difference.

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