HBT Game 4 Live blog

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11:31: And Josh Hamilton strikes out to end it. 4-0, the Giants shut out the Rangers. 3-1 is the series lead. Things are dire.  How do the Rangers beat Lincecum and Cain?  Let’s think about that one tomorrow. For now, stay tuned as D.J. will be on soon to put this one in perspective.  Night all.

11:30: Wilson is on. Two out.  This one is about over. Even Josh Hamilton can’t hit a five run homer.

11:27: Brian Wilson comes in to demoralize Rangers fans. I predict no less than five camera shots of fans with their hands up near their mouths in prayer and/or consternation. FOX just can’t help itself with this stuff.

11:24: Holland rebounds to retire the next three hitters in order. Call off the Steve Blass Alert.

11:19: Derek Holland walks the first batter he faces. Wow. Where have we seen this before?

11:14: Bumgarner gives up two hard hit balls to left, but they were caught, and then strikes Mitch Moreland out looking. Bumgarner’s night is likely over. The Giants get their hacks in the ninth and then in comes Brian Wilson.  The Rangers are about to be shut out for the second time in four games, aren’t they?

11:08: So I was wrong. Bumgarner is back out. I guess they don’t need to save him for anything. And it’s the bottom of the Rangers’ order.

11:00:  Wow, Buster Posey hit a home run out to center. It looked like a popup off the bat. Hamilton played it like a popup, but it just carried and carried. Man. 4-0, Giants, who are on the verge of being up 3-1.

10:58: Joe Buck with his 5th Dallas Cowboys reference of the night. It’s like being on a date with a girl who keeps talking about that other guy she has a crush on.

10:50: And it’s for naught. Kinsler flies out to left. Threat over. The question: does Bumgarner come out for the 8th? I’m guessing no.

10:48: Nelson Cruz singles up the middle. After a night of quiet from the Rangers’ bats, they have two on and the tying run at the plate in the form of Ian Kinsler.

10:46: Bumgarner at 84 pitches. If he can get through the 7th nicely, Bochy can go straight to Brian Wilson.

10:41: Bumgarner getting some really lenient calls on the inside corner now. The home plate ump must have realized how slow the first third of the game was and remembered that he has someplace to be.

10:37: God Bless America bu the group “4 Troops.” I may have missed the memo explaining them, but I’m assuming they’re either veterans themselves or are somehow designed to be a tribute to troops. Much better, I think, than the song being used as a FOX promo last night.  But I’m not gonna lie: this four-part ballad whatever it is arrangement is pretty terrible. We’re a step away from halftime shows here.

10:33: Did I say insurance? The Giants just got it. A Renteria single followed two batters later by Andres Torres hitting an RBI double to the gap. 3-0, Giants.

10:23: Another double play for the Giants. Bumgarner has everything going in his favor tonight. He would probably like a little insurance right now, however.

10:19: Molina grounds to third. Uribe seems to take extra time to throw him out. It seems like the Giants fielders are rubbing it in with him.

10:14: Darren Oliver is in replacing Ogando. Fact: every other Rangers relief pitcher is named Darren.

10:09: Alexi Ogando pulled or tweaked something. He’s hurt and out of the game. That’s a big blow for the Rangers. He had restored order and had been looking good.

10:06: Not a lot is happening in this game right now as the pitchers have settled down. Lots of Halloween talk and shots of fans in costumes. The one of Beaker from the Muppet Show was awesome. But the best, by far, is Ken Rosenthal dressed as Brother Mouzone from “The Wire.”

10:02: A 1-2-3 5th inning from Madison Bumgarner. Great defense continues for the Giants. Starting to get the feeling that last night’s game was the aberration. But for Jonathan Sanchez, the Giants are just abusing the Rangers.

9:55: And Ogando makes short work of the Giants in the 5th. Maybe with Hunter gone we can get some momentum going here.

9:52: Alexi Ogando is coming in to the game for Texas, closing the book on Tommy Hunter. Hunter seemed way worse than the line score would indicate. I think that if you had told Ron Washington before the game that Hunter would only allow two runs, he would have been happy. Maybe would have liked an extra inning or two from him, but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

9: 49: And Sanchez does get another chance: applies the tag on Josh Hamilton as he’s caught stealing. Great thrown by Posey. Great tag by Sanchez. Some sweet defense being played in this one.

9:45: Man, Freddy Sanchez is going nuts at second base. That snag a couple of innings ago, a great play that just missed Michael Young and then that stab and tag on Hamilton’s fielder’s choice.  Hit it to him again! This is fun!

9:44: Um, no, I did not miss the first three pitches of this inning because I didn’t flip back from “Dawn of the Dead” over on AMC fast enough.

9:38: Just when I thought Tommy Hunter was going to get through an inning quickly, he gives up a hot shot single to Renteria. He’s got to be near the end of the line tonight. His pitch count is high, his control is shaky and he’s sweating gravy.

9:30: Showing Nolan Ryan highlights, and they show the Robin Ventura beatdown!  Love it! I take back everything I ever said about you FOX.

9:28: Bengie Molina grounds to short. As it’s being fielded, Buck says “Renteria has time.” That may be the understatement of the century.

9:24: Hunter gets the fly out to end the inning. By the way, this game is over an hour old and we’ve only played two and a half innings.

9:20: Aubrey Huff just hit a mile-high shot that stayed straight as it went down the line and out. 2-0 Giants.

9:15: A leadoff double for Andres Torres. Good luck for him: ball hit the bag and bounced over Mitch Moreland.  And it gave Francoeur a shot to show off his arm. he LOVES doin’ that.

9:09: Freddy Sanchez robs Jeff Francoeur of a base hit with a leaping grab to end the inning. I’ll deal with a bad zone if every inning can end with a great defensive play.

9:07: The strike zone continues to jump all over the place. High and inside is a strike, apparently. Right down the middle, nope. But not always.  Just maddening.

8:57: Josh Hamilton saves the day with an awesome diving catch. The players are doing their best to render the umps’ bad calls meaningless.

8:55: And now runners on the corners after a Renteria single. All of this — plus the nine extra pitches (and counting) from Hunter — would be unnecessary if the ump at first had made the right call on the would-be DP.

8:51: That was probably the first time Barbara Bush has ever been circled on a telestrator.

8:49: Bad call. Runner was out at first on the DP attempt, umps called him safe. Replay please.

8:44: This strike zone is ridiculous. This game will be four and a half hours if Mike Winters doesn’t loosen this up a bit.

8:40: Nice takeout slide by Andrus to break up the DP.  There’s not much not to like about that kid.

8:38: Four-pitch walk to kick of the game for Madison Bumgarner. Yeah, he got squeezed, but not a good sign.

8:37: Rangers players doing the lineups by saying what their favorite Halloween costumes were as kids. Another reason to wish that the World Series didn’t stretch this late into the year. Mid-October would be great. Impossible, I know, but this just seems wrong.

8:34: Is the guy in the runaway train movie Captain Kirk from the new Star Trek flick?  Maybe another reason to see it. It may be terrible but I think I’m hooked.

8:31: Gotta say, I really hate the orange bills on the Giants alternate caps. Why mess with classic lines?

8:25: We’re not really squaring to bunt with no one out in the first, are we?

8:23: Before the playoffs, almost every Rangers game I saw this year was on MLB.tv, so it was on my little computer screen. Since the playoffs started, all on my big HD TV. Lesson learned: Tommy Hunter is friggin’ gigantic. It just never came through so clearly on the computer.

8:20: Saw this earlier, of course, but it’s quite nice to not see Pat Burrell in the lineup. Unless you’re the Rangers anyway.

8:16: Another aces first pitch from GWB.  Dude has an arm.

8:14: The Bushes are in the house. Say what you want about the politics, but they are easily the two most baseballingest presidents we’ve ever had, and you have to love that.

8:11: I love how they tease the first pitch: “A father son first pitch with a Presidential flavor to it.” Without naming names. Ooh! Let me guess: John and John Quincy Adams?

8:09: Lyle Lovett doing the National Anthem. With a cello. Not a large band. I’d still like to see Hayes Carll get a shot at this. He’s from Texas.

7:55 P.M.:  We’ll be live blogging this bad boy once again, my friends.  First pitch is 8:20ish, but I’m sure I’ll find something to snark about before then. Come on in, sit right down and hit refresh every few minutes. I mean, your alternative is watching a lame NFL game. And who wants to do that?

Oh, wait. The football game is on NBC. Let’s just see if we can figure out our picture-in-picture, cool?  Craigy’s gotta pay the bills, after all . . .

Red Sox survive back-and-forth affair with Astros, win 8-6 to take 3-1 lead in ALCS

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Game 4 of the ALCS on Wednesday night between the Red Sox and Astros was a thrilling back-and-forth affair with seven lead changes. Ultimately, the Red Sox emerged victorious with a hard-fought 7-5 victory.

The Red Sox wasted no time getting on the board, plating two runs in the top of the first inning against Charlie Morton thanks to a walk, hit-by-pitch, wild pitch, and a Rafael Devers single. In the bottom half, José Altuve hit what appeared to be a game-tying two-run home run to right field off of Rick Porcello. Mookie Betts leaped and was interfered with by fans in the stands, so Altuve was called out instead. The ruling was upheld after review.

In the bottom of the second, the Astros officially scored their first run when Carlos Correa knocked home a run with a single. The Red Sox immediately got it back when Xander Bogaerts doubled in a run in the top of the third, running the score to 3-1. In what would become a trend, the Astros also responded as George Springer drilled a solo homer and Josh Reddick hit an RBI single of his own to tie the game at 3-3. Tony Kemp added a solo homer down the right field line in the fourth to put the Astros on top for the first time. Bogaerts hit another RBI single in the top of the fifth to re-tie the game at 4-4. Correa followed suit in the bottom half, hitting his second RBI single of the game to give the Astros back the lead.

Jackie Bradley, Jr., who hit a soul-crushing grand slam off of Roberto Osuna in Game 3, hit another homer in Game 4, a two-run shot in the sixth off of Josh James. In the seventh, the Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs and Lance McCullers, Jr. entered to try to put out the fire. He did not, briefly, walking Brock Holt to force in a run and make the score 7-5. McCullers did end up getting out of the inning without any further damage. Just for good measure, though, J.D. Martinez tacked on a run in the eighth with an RBI single to make it 8-5.

Ryan Brasier got five outs and Matt Barnes one in the sixth and seventh. Manager Alex Cora decided to call on Craig Kimbrel for a six-out save when the bottom of the eighth rolled around. The 2018 postseason hasn’t been kind to Kimbrel as he had given up runs in all three of his appearances. Kimbrel gave up hits to the first three batters he faced. Kemp led off with a single but he tried to stretch it into a double and was thrown out at second base by Betts. Kimbrel then hit Alex Bregman with a pitch and surrendered a double to George Springer, putting runners at second and third with one out. Altuve knocked in a run with a ground out to make it 8-6, but Kimbrel saw his way out of the inning by striking out Marwin González.

In the ninth, Cora decided to keep Kimbrel in the ballgame despite his continued struggles. Kimbrel got Yuli Gurriel to pop up to start the inning, but then issued back-to-back walks to Reddick and Correa. Kimbrel got out number two by getting Brian McCann to fly out to right field, then walked Tony Kemp to load the bases. Cora decided to stay with Kimbrel as Bregman came to the plate. Kimbrel threw a first-pitch, 97 MPH fastball that Bregman laced into shallow left field. Andrew Benintendi charged in and dived, catching the ball just in time to save the game, ending it for an 8-6 victory. Of the 18 half-innings, the two sides failed to score in only seven of them.

The Red Sox, now up three games to one in the ALCS, will try to close it out on Thursday night in Houston. If the Red Sox win, they will return to the World Series for the first time since 2013.