Prior to Game 5, Astros’ starters had combined just 6 2/3 innings in the first four games of the series. As such, Dusty Baker’s overtaxed reliever pen was in dire need of some length from Valdez on Wednesday. Valdez gave them that and more. In eight innings, Valdez allowed one run on three hits while striking out five and walking one. He also recorded 13 groundouts against two flyouts. Valdez didn’t allow a baseline runner or a ball to come out of the infield until Rafael Devers made a single right to lead the fifth. Devers also finished the shutout with a solo homerun in the seventh that represented Boston’s lone run.
Houston designated hitter Alvarez provided all the offense Valdez and the Astros needed, first with his solo home run on the opposite court against Boston starter Chris Sale in the second inning. He then added confidence in the sixth with a brace in opposite field – his third hit of the game against Sale – who scored two more runs. Alvarez completed a timid triple of the cycle. The Astros in total scored five points in this sixth frame.
For Boston, Sale looked like his old self for the first five innings, but in the sixth he suffered a slowdown and the Astros were able to take advantage. In 5 1/3 innings, Sale received four runs, two of which were earned. Coming back to Game 4, the Astros scored 15 unanswered points against Boston before the Devers Homer.
The Astros will return home for Game 6 on Friday, needing just one win to qualify for the World Series. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are hoping to force a Game 7.