Alex Cora ejected during Game 1 of ALCS

Alex Cora ejected during Game 1 of ALCS

Alex Cora ejected during Game 1 of ALCS

He allowed four runs through 4 2/3 innings-his best playoff start in a Red Sox uniform. Only half of his first 24 pitches that inning were strikes.

- Optimistic note: Teams that have lost Game 1 of the ALCS over the last 18 years have gone on to win the series eight times, including the 2013 and 2004 Red Sox teams. Price bounced back, though, as the lefty froze Yuli Gurriel with a cutter for out No. 2, and then blew Tyler White away with a high fastball to end the frame. Three relievers kept the 'Stros at bay but luck ran out in the ninth inning when Brandon Workman was roughed up for two home runs that sent the crowd rushing to the exits.

Perhaps the fans realized that the mediocre stat line was deceiving: Price's infield defense probably cost him two runs in the second, when shortstop Xander Bogaerts took his time on a Carlos Correa groundball that became an infield hit instead of the second out of the inning.

Andrew Benintendi worked the count full before looking at a 3-2 pitch that appeared to catch the edge of the zone for the third out.

The Astros won and never trailed but they certainly took advantage of a sloppy Boston side. What he did bring to the table was bushels of moxie and guile as he somehow, someway, survived four innings and allowed only two runs on one hit. Price has been solid when healthy in three seasons with Boston, going 39-19 with a 3.74 ERA, but he has also solidified his reputation as an anti-clutch pitcher who wilts in big situations over that time.

Verlander was charged with two runs and four walks while striking out six. Kimbrel was shaky once again, allowing an RBI double to Jose Altuve. Houston only got one hit off of Sale, but he loaded the bases with two outs in the second on two walks and a hit batter before reigning World Series MVP George Springer singled in two runs past the glove of third baseman Eduardo Nunez, who slipped as he stretched for the ball. Cole walked the previous batter, Steve Pearce, on four pitches to load the bases. Cole struck out Ian Kinsler for the second out, putting the onus on the light-hitting Jackie Bradley Jr.

The Astros led all of major league baseball in earned run average and allowed the fewest runs (534) of anyone. That and holding the Red Sox to just three hits on the night.

- Devers and Betts each had two hits.

Boston is coming off a lousy night all around in a 7-2 loss to Houston.

Many in Boston's vociferous media chattering class called for Price to be pulled from the rotation and wondered why a guy with such a bummer of a playoff history was given the start in the first place. First pitch is set for 5:09 p.m. ET.

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