For the second-straight season, the Boston Red Sox have crashed out of the ALDS after dropping Game 4 of the series to the Houston Astros 5-4 on Monday afternoon at Fenway Park and losing the best-of-five series 3-1.
Josh Reddick's RBI single in the top of the eighth broke a 3-3 tie and Carlos Beltran's ninth-inning double proved to be the game-winner in a come-from-behind effort that saw Boston nab a 3-2 lead in the fifth.
The Red Sox pulled within one during their last turn at bat thanks to a thrilling inside-the-park home run by Rafael Devers, but it wasn't enough for a franchise that has won just a single postseason game since 2014.
This was Houston's first postseason series win since the 2005 NLCS.
In what could have been his final game as Red Sox manager, John Farrell was ejected in the bottom of the second for arguing balls and strikes, leaving bench coach Gary DiSarcina in charge.
Boston's decision to leave in ace pitcher Chris Sale — who was on the hill to relieve starter Rick Porcello — in the eighth inning will haunt the team all winter. Though we'll never know how Farrell actually would have handled the situation had he been in the dugout.
Porcello put his team behind immediately in the first inning, making it the fourth-straight game in the series that Houston scored in the opening frame.
After a lead-off double to George Springer, who advanced to third on a wild pitch, Josh Reddick walked to immediately put the Sox in a jam. But the damage was limited when Jose Altuve grounded into an RBI double play.
Xander Bogaerts knotted things back up quickly in the bottom of the first when he took Charlie Morton out to straightaway center field. It was a huge way to break out of a 0-for-14 slump through the first three games of the series.
Porcello gave it right back though after a lead-off triple to Yuli Gurriel in the second. He was close to getting out of it unscathed after striking out Evan Gattis and Brian McCann, but Springer lined a single to left to put Houston back in the lead.
Desperate to keep the game within reach, the acting manager called upon Sale to come on in relief in the fourth inning.
He was dominant for the first four innings, allowing two hits while striking out six.
The Astros countered by bringing in a big arm of their own in Justin Verlander, who was called on in the fifth inning after Morton allowed a one-out walk to Bogaerts.
It was a questionable move considering Verlander had never made a relief appearance in his career.
The move didn't pay off as Andrew Benintendi greeted Verlander with a moonshot of a home run into the right-field stands to put Boston in the lead.
But Sale was left in the game for just a bit too long as he came out for the eighth inning. Facing Alex Bregman, who homered off Sale in Game 1, the lefty gave up another over the monster to tie the game.
After a Gattis single, Sale's day was done as closer Craig Kimbrel was called on, though he couldn't get the job done. A wild pitch and a walk to Springer put runners on the corners with two outs for Reddick, who slapped a single the other way through the hole at shortstop to put Houston back in front.
The Astros bats kept humming in the ninth thanks to Beltran's marathon at-bat against Kimbrel that resulted in an RBI double to grab an insurance run that proved to be enormous for the visitors after Devers led off the bottom of the ninth with an inside-the-park home run. A line drive to left center could not be wrangled in by the Springer as the ball caromed off the wall and rolled toward right field.
Houston closer Ken Giles though was able to retire the next three batters, finishing off Boston's season by getting Dustin Pedroia to ground out.