BOSTON – When Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker pulled out of the bunker midway through the fifth inning, Framber Valdez I was surprised.
Entering the fourth inning, Valdes wasn’t attacking Boston, rolling into the Red Sox lineup as Houston clung to a 1-0 lead in Game 5 of the MLS Championship series. But a song from the third Boston team Raphael Devers He dismantled the no-show attempt and hit one hit after another to the designated hitter JD Martinez Inning stakes increased with Boston’s starting signal on first base.
Valdez turned toward the bulls as Baker approached the hill, to check if a loyalist was warming behind him.
No one was seen there.
“Okay,” Valdez said to himself. “well, that is good.”
With the ALCS balance hanging on, Baker pulled his pitcher close.
“Frambiuso,” Becker said. “Man, you’re the best. Just be normal and do something.”
Valdez lived up to his master’s word, resulting in a double play from the Red Sox right-hander Renfro hunter And to escape from the half-problem by getting the left Boston player Alex Verdugo Down to earth sharply to the first base man Yuli Gouriel.
It was the shakiest moment for Houston of the evening as Valdes blasted through eight runs, allowing three hits, one running while he scored five and one running on the most important start of his career, becoming the second visitor to visit eight or more. innings and allowing three or fewer playoffs at Fenway, to join Bob Gibson, who accomplished the feat in Game Seven of the 1967 World Championships.
“I have to thank God first and foremost,” Valdez said through an interpreter. “I have asked God so much to be able to be a part of this team and to be able to help this team in a way that has them on my shoulder. I will continue to work to keep this team that way.”
The beginning represented the moment of salvation. Valdez struggled during his first outing in the first game of the ALCS, going 2.2 innings, allowing six hits and two kicks gained while walking three hits and hitting two. After the outing, Valdez told his teammates that he would have at least seven rounds on his next start to make up for his poor performance.
“I felt insulted after that first outing,” Valdez said. “I’ve decided not to let that happen again.”
In the process, he became the first Astros pitcher to complete eight rounds in a post-season game since then Gerrit Cole You went the same distance against the rays in Game 5 of 2019 ALDS. Coming into Wednesday night’s competition, Becker was hoping Valdes would lead his entire arsenal of bowlers, generating volleys in order to improve his performance while not forcing breakouts to hitters. Baker got exactly what he wanted. Valdez leaned on his holes — which averaged 93.7 mph — throughout the evening, which is 65 percent of his 93 pitches for the evening.
The Astros player received seven of 12 swings and misses on his curveball, which he pinpointed precisely throughout the performance, the longest post-season bowler start this year.
“Looks like it’s set [the Game 1 start] Behind him, Becker said. “He had a good pace going. He didn’t mess with forcing the broken ball, as if he started the last couple of pairs, then lags, he was attacking the hit zone.”
After Boston’s strong offensive performance in the first three games of the series, the Red Sox struggled to generate chances to strike back at the Astros. The only game the team managed in the seventh inning was at home with a laser by Raphael Devers, which raised the score to 7-1.
“The guy was amazing,” said Alex Cora, director of the Red Sox. “He was throwing harder than usual. The ball was moving. We didn’t hit the ball hard at all…”
Valdes credited his vigilant practices after the match as one of the factors in his strong performance. Returning to dugout after a rocky start in the fifth inning, Valdez closed his eyes and began to meditate, which he turns to when he needs to reset his mind. This process, which he began with his psychologist Andy Nunez in the Dominican Republic, helps him control his emotions and visualize the success he hopes to achieve on the hill.
“This is something that every time I use it, it works for me 100 percent,” Valdez said. “My feelings never get out of control. I don’t get into an altered state at all and feel completely focused on what I need to do. This is something I’ve been working on a lot and it’s something that really focuses me allowing me to calm down there.”
Starting with Valdez puts Houston in control of their destiny as they come home with two chances to snatch the World Championship berth in front of their home crowd at Minute Maid Park. Winning a possible Game 6 or Game 7 would mark Houston’s third World Championship appearance in the past five years, with the last two appearing in 2017 and 2019.
In order to dominate the series and neutralize Boston’s powerful attack, the Astros needed a better career start than the primary bowler.
“That was in Framber’s hands,” Becker said.
And in his own hands, the Astros now find themselves one win away from a chance to win a second world title for the franchise.
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