HOUSTON -- What wound up as one of the most thrilling postseason victories in Red Sox history nearly turned into a soul-crushing defeat.But Andrew Benintendi wasn't going to allow it to happen -- not after all the madness that had led up to the final play of an epic Game
HOUSTON -- What wound up as one of the most thrilling postseason victories in Red Sox history nearly turned into a soul-crushing defeat.
But Andrew Benintendi wasn't going to allow it to happen -- not after all the madness that had led up to the final play of an epic Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, which featured four hours and 33 minutes of riveting action.
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With the bases loaded and two out, and closer Craig Kimbrel on the ropes, the Astros sent their best player to the plate in Alex Bregman. He hit a sinking liner to left which was sure to tie the game if it dropped.
Instead, Benintendi raced in to make a magnificent catch which ended the zany, 8-6 win over the Astros on Wednesday night that gave the Red Sox a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and put them one victory from reaching the World Series.
"I felt like I got a good jump on it," Benintendi said. "It wasn't hit that hard. I got in on it real good."
The safe play would have been for Benintendi to let it drop and make sure it didn't go by him.
But this classic contest between two heavyweight teams that led the Majors in wins this season wasn't about playing anything safe.
Benintendi went for it and secured the victory with a five-star catch, according to Statcast™. It was his first five-star snag in 23 chances this season. He had been 0-for-22 in such opportunities. With just a 21 percent catch probability, the fearless 24-year-old needed to cover 45 feet in 3.2 seconds.
Why did Benintendi decide to play it so aggressively?
"I don't know, I thought I could catch it. I timed it up well," Benintendi said. "That's when it was either do or die. I'm glad I caught it."
So was radio announcer Joe Castiglione, who has been broadcasting Red Sox games since 1983. As Castiglione made the call on the brilliant catch, he literally fell out of his chair, with the thump audible to all his listeners.
And so it goes for these Red Sox, who are giving all of their followers a thrill.
Meanwhile, it was agony for the defending World Series champions, who are now on the brink of elimination.
"The difference in that game was a couple of inches," Astros manager AJ Hinch said.
The Red Sox were beside themselves with emotion after Benintendi's snag.
"I gave him a kiss after the game," said Brock Holt, who is Benintendi's best friend on the team. "Right on the cheek. I said thank you."
Meanwhile, Kimbrel tried to come up with ways he could thank his left fielder.
"I gave him a big hug," Kimbrel said. "He might get a big Christmas present."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.