Boston Sends Astros Packing
Price Tops Verlander In ALCS Finale

End of the ride
(c) Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle
The Astros did not end 2018 with the same championship they took in 2017. After winning the first game of the ALCS handily, the Boston Red Sox roared back to win four straight and eliminate Houston, 4-games-to-1. Fittingly, the final score Thursday was also 4-1. It was a rather stark end for a squad that entered the week with such swagger.

Justin Verlander hung a curve to former Astro J.D. Martinez in the third inning which he jammed over the Crawford Boxes down the left field line for the game's first run. The back-breaker came in the sixth when Rafael Devers launched a three-run shot into the Crawfords for a 4-0 lead.

Lefthander David Price tossed six innings of shutout ball for Boston, striking out nine while giving up just three hits. He might have allowed a run in the sixth when Alex Bregman sent a fly toward the right field seats but Mookie Betts snagged it just before it might have landed in the front row.

Marwin Gonzalez provided Houston's only run with a solo homer in the seventh off Matt Barnes. Hometown boy Nathan Eovaldi and Craig Kimbrel closed it out before the celebration on the Minute Maid Park field commenced. The Astros had just five hits, a trademark of so many of their losses this year.

Despite being 0-for-3 on Thursday, Jackie Bradley Jr. won the ALCS MVP Award due to his nine RBIs and his two critical homers earlier in the series.

Major League Baseball has probably dreamed for decades of a Boston-L.A. World Series to rival all the classic NBA Finals between the Celtics and Lakers and it appears they are close to having one if the Dodgers can take one of two final games against Milwaukee in the National League series. Perhaps they can have Bird and Magic come out for a first pitch.

For the Astros, they can look back on a franchise-record 103-win season and forward to an offseason full of questions. Will Dallas Keuchel and Charlie Morton be back? What about free agent catchers Brian McCann and Martin Maldonado? What happens to rookie talents like Kyle Tucker, Myles Straw and Josh James? Will Evan Gattis return?

There will likely be a news blackout on the Astros, like most MLB clubs, until the end of the World Series and the beginning of a new calendar year. We'll still be around to keep you informed.

Thank you for reading our reports and keeping us company in 2018. We look forward to having everyone back next year.

- Bob Hulsey