Framber Valdez, 'totally focused' after sluggish start to ALCS, carries Houston Astros to 3-2 lead
Oct 21, 2021 1 min, 28 secs

BOSTON -- As Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker walked out of the dugout in the middle of the fifth inning, Framber Valdez felt surprised.

Entering the fourth inning, Valdez was no-hitting Boston, rolling through the Red Sox lineup as Houston clung to a 1-0 lead in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

The moment represented the most tenuous for Houston on the evening as Valdez cruised through eight innings, allowing three hits, one run while striking out five and walking one in the most important start of his career, becoming the second visiting starter to go eight or more innings and allow three or fewer hits in a playoff game at Fenway, joining Bob Gibson, who accomplished the feat in Game 7 of the 1967 World Series.

Valdez struggled through his first outing in Game 1 of the ALCS, going 2.2 innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs while walking three batters and striking out two.

"I felt humiliated after that first outing," Valdez said.

The Astros starter received seven of his 12 swings-and-misses on his curveball, which he located with precision throughout the performance, the longest start by a pitcher in the postseason this year.

"Seems like he put [the Game 1 start] behind him," Baker said.

The start from Valdez puts Houston in control of their destiny as they head back home with two opportunities to clinch a World Series berth in front of their fans at Minute Maid Park

A victory in Game 6 or a potential Game 7 would mark the third World Series appearance for Houston in the last five years, with the last two coming in 2017 and 2019

"This was in the hands of Framber," Baker said

And in his hands, the Astros now find themselves one win away from a chance at the franchise's second World Series title

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