Red Sox

5 takeaways as the Red Sox season ends with Game 6 loss in ALCS

The Red Sox let go of a grueling contest in the eighth inning when Kyle Tucker homered.

Jim Davis/Globe Staff
Adam Ottavino allowed a three-run home run to the Astros' Kyle Tucker (right) in the eighth inning.

Here are the takeaways as the Red Sox fell 5-0 to the Astros on Friday in Game 6 of the ALCS, ending their season in a grueling loss.

The Big Picture

The Astros tallied their first run on an odd play in right-center. Yordan Alvarez — whose name will come up a few times here — hit a deep fly ball toward the gap, but Kiké Hernández appeared to have it in his sights. At the last moment, something happened, and the ball glanced off his glove. Alex Bregman scored on Alvarez’s first double of the game.

“The ball kind of hung up there, and I was running to it, and halfway there I (realized) I might be able to get to it,” Hernández said after the game. “I just happened to look up at Hunter [Renfroe]to see where Hunter was, and by the time I looked back up the ball was almost already there. I got to the spot, but the ball kind of beat me to the spot and I wasn’t able to close my glove in time.

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“I thought about this for nine innings, and I still think if I catch that ball it’s a different ballgame.”

For the next few innings, Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi dueled Astros starter Luis Garcia. Eovaldi allowed just five hits in his 4 1/3 innings of work, and the only runner who crossed the plate was Bregman.

But Garcia was brilliant. He threw five innings without allowing a hit, and only two batters reached base — Kyle Schwarber on a wild-pitch strikeout to lead off the first, and Alex Verdugo on a second-inning walk.

In the bottom of the sixth, Alvarez struck again with a lead-off triple. After Tanner Houck hit Carlos Correa, the Red Sox nearly got out of the inning when Kyle Schwarber completed an unassisted double play off Kyle Tucker’s ground out and fired home, but Alvarez beat the throw and tacked on another run.

Then, in the bottom of the eighth, Kyle Tucker’s three-run hammer to left effectively drove the final nail into the Red Sox’s season. The Red Sox went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the Astros claimed the American League pennant.

Star of the Game

Yordan Alvarez — 4-for-4, two runs, RBI, two doubles, triple

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How do you earn Star of the Game over the rookie pitcher who threw five no-hit innings, or over the batter whose three-run homer put the clinching game away? By ripping three extra-base hits in a perfect night at the plate and putting together a huge series to earn ALCS MVP honors.

What It Means

The Celtics play the Rockets on Sunday at 7 p.m., while the Bruins take on the Sharks on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Takeaways

1. The Astros were excellent at the plate with two outs throughout the series, and that trend continued Friday — four of their five runs came with two outs, including (of course) Tucker’s eighth-inning blast. If the Red Sox come away from the ALCS with major regrets, one of them might be that they didn’t take advantage of opportunities to put the Astros away.

2. Garcia was not only good, he was unprecedentedly good. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Garcia threw his four fastest pitches of the season in the early going. His fastball, which hit 93.3 mph on average this season, averaged 96 mph on Friday. He threw 13 cutters, meanwhile, which induced 12 whiffs.

Garcia’s unorthodox wind-up is fascinating — he and Alex Verdugo could compare notes on rocking a baby — but the Red Sox weren’t confused by it the first time they met in this series. On Friday, the Red Sox had no answers for him.

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3. Alex Cora seemed to recognize how crucial the Red Sox’s lone opportunity to score was in the seventh inning with runners on first and third and just one out. With a 3-2 count on pinch-hitter Travis Shaw, Alex Verdugo tried to steal second to put the tying run in scoring position.

The only problem: Verdugo, who stole six bases this season, was trying to run on Martín Maldonado, who is so good behind the plate, the Astros kept him there even though he is batting .069 in the postseason. Shaw struck out, and Maldonado fired a laser to second directly into Carlos Correa’s glove which hovered just above Verdugo’s leg as he slid into the bag.

“I just bet on my players,” Cora said after the game. “3-2 count. We put the ball in play against a sinker-baller, we score 1. He threw like a 1.4 to second, whatever he did, and we didn’t make contact, and he got thrown out. But that’s one of those that it’s a 3-2 count with a sinker-baller. We were trying to score one, and we felt that we had the right guy to first. The times were 1.6, 1.65, and it just mattered that their catcher just came out shooting and he made a perfect throw.”

The Red Sox went down in order the rest of the way.

4. In the final three games of the ALCS, the Red Sox batted .111 (10-for-90). The bats that were so lively early in the first three games were completely silenced, mowed down by fastballs as the series stretched on, according to Alex Cora.

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“We never had a chance offensively,” Cora said.

5. The Red Sox face a fascinating offseason full of important decisions (one of which will be free-agent-to-be Kyle Schwarber, who called the Red Sox a “World Series clubhouse” and said he “would love to see if there’s an opportunity to come back”).

But on Friday, after the Red Sox watched confetti fall on the Astros, Cora was just grateful.

“I told [the players] how proud I am,” Cora said. “It’s an amazing group, it’s a group we will always remember. In the off-season trying to recruit players and trying to buy into the concept that we were going to be good, it was hard. But at the end of the day, we did an amazing job …

“We did an amazing job throughout the season, we just got beat at the end. When we look back at everything we went through, the thoughts of this team early in the season, it’s just amazing. It was a great year. Obviously very disappointed we didn’t win this series, but we’re going to look back and be very proud of the group, the organization, and everybody that got to be part of this operation on a daily basis.”

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