There was almost nothing for 40,174 fans to cheer about Tuesday.
When the sun came out in the eighth inning, that brought a roar.
And in the first inning, Carlos Rodon had everyone on their feet while pitching out of a jam with long-lost 99 mph velocity.
And there was Gavin Sheets, the third Sox rookie to hit a home run in a postseason game, providing the Sox’ only run. It gave the Sox a 1-0 lead against Lance McCullers, creating momentary visions of the Sox going back to Houston for a deciding Game 5.
Sheets, who also doubled, joined Luis Robert (2020) and Tadahito Iguchi (2005) on the rookie home-run list.
“The experience of being here, the experience of being with a bunch of incredible veterans, just learning as much as I can,” Sheets said.
The left-handed-hitting Sheets figures to be in the mix for everyday DH duty next season. A first baseman, he also became a quick study on the fly in the outfield. The Sox brought two players to the postgame media news conference, Rodon and Sheets.
“We got a taste of the playoffs,” Sheets said. “Obviously, right now it sucks, it hurts, but to have this experience the rookie year, I can only grow from it. Same for the team. We’re only going to grow from it.”
Right-hander Michael Kopech, who did not appear in the series until Game 3 on Sunday when he threw 47 pitches, was said to be unavailable Tuesday, but he was the first pitcher out of the bullpen.
Kopech got two outs and was charged with three runs and three hits. He did not get a strikeout and will go to the offseason with an 18.00 postseason ERA on his record.
“The change was, he came out and threw and felt good to go, and that altered the plan,” manager Tony La Russa said. “But honestly, he said he was good, and I watched him when he played catch.”
Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito were in the bullpen if needed, and Lynn was thought to be the first one La Russa would go to, especially if Rodon needed relief early, which he did.
Painful to watch
Rodon, Kopech, Liam Hendriks, Garrett Crochet, Ryan Tepera and Aaron Bummer were among the Sox players who watched the Astros’ subdued celebration on the field.
“Very thankful that we had the opportunity to work with these guys,” La Russa said. “I mean, it was as good as it could be. They’re a very special group. We ended up disappointed. I’m hurting for them, but it’s an amazing group.”
This and that
- The Sox batted .291/.361/.376 with three home runs and three doubles in the series. They were outscored 31-18.
- The Sox’ defense of the steal was in full view with four Astros stolen bases. “It will definitely be an area of a lot of focus and attention in spring training,” La Russa said.
- This game lasted four hours, 32 minutes, the longest nine-inning postseason game in Sox history, surpassing Sunday’s game (4:27), and the second-longest overall.
- Luis Robert left after the sixth inning with tightness in his right leg. He became the first Sox player to hit safely in his first seven career postseason games.