The Astros traveled to Boston to begin a highly anticipated League Championship Series with the top-seeded Red Sox. The defending champs accomplished their objective over the weekend: split the matchups and steal home-field advantage.
The opener saw Justin Verlander battle through six innings, allowing two runs on two hits against one of the most talented lineups in baseball. George Springer broke the ice early with a two-RBI single in the top of the second.
Verlander gifted Boston a pair of runs in the fifth with a bases loaded walk and a wild pitch, but left the game in line for the win after Carlos Correa drove home Alex Bregman with a single in the next frame to take a 3-2 lead.
This would prove to be the winning run. The relieving trio of Ryan Pressly, Lance McCullers Jr. and Collin McHugh allowed just one Boston baserunner in the final three innings to ensure the game one victory. Homeruns by Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel in the top on the ninth added plenty of insurance in the 7-2 decision.
It was time for the Red Sox bullpen to shine in game two on Sunday night. Boston’s relievers covered the final 4.1 innings and did not allow a hit until there were two outs in the ninth.
Most of game two’s excitement came in a wild first three innings. After the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first, George Springer flared a two-out double down the right field line off of starter David Price to tie the game. Marwin Gonzalez then launched a two-run shot in the third to give the Astros a 4-2 lead.
Boston pounced on Gerrit Cole in the bottom frame with a three-run double courtesy of Jackie Bradley Jr. Houston’s bats went cold from there while the Red Sox padded their lead for the 7-5 win.
Entering game three on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park, the Astros were in a position to advance to the World Series by winning all of their home games.
The National League Championship Series was also knotted up at a game apiece entering Monday’s third game in Los Angeles. The Milwaukee Brewers increased their winning streak to 12 games when they defeated the Dodgers 6-5 in game one. LA retaliated with a late surge in game two and flipped home-field advantage with a 4-3 win.
After a disappointing 0-3 start to the season, the Texans have now won three straight and are tied for first place in a struggling AFC South division. Weeks four and five saw back-to-back overtime victories for Houston, and the theme of tight finishes continued with a 20-13 win over the Bills on Sunday.
The Texans jumped out to a 10-0 lead, but Buffalo posted 13 unanswered points to begin the second half. Deshaun Watson and the offense were finally able to set up a field goal to tie it with a minute and a half to play in regulation.
It appeared as if Houston was in store for another overtime contest, but Jonathan Joseph picked off Bills quarterback Nate Peterman and brought it all the way back for a touchdown on the ensuing drive. On a quiet day for the offense, the Texans defense stepped up to ensure a win.
In Dallas, the Cowboys played their best game since their 13-3 campaign in 2016. Dallas rushed for over 200 yards against the vaunted Jacksonville Jaguar defense and cruised to an easy 40-7 win. Ezekiel Elliot rushed for over 100 yards and Dak Prescott added another 82 along with three total touchdowns.
The Dallas defense has been extremely impressive through the first five weeks of the season and never let Blake Bortles and the Jags find a rhythm at AT&T Stadium. Jacksonville, who is considered a serious Super Bowl contender, has now lost three out of four games. They will host the Texans next week in a critical midseason bout in the AFC South.
The Cowboys remain in a second place tie in the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles, who dismantled the New York Giants on Thursday night. Washington remains in first place with an impressive 23-17 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The Cowboys will travel to Washington in week seven.