Live television is, in many ways, a metaphor for life in that you never quite know what you’re going to get (a concept explored throughout Forrest Gump). Astros skipper Dusty Baker joined Fox announcers Joe Buck and John Smoltz for a quick visit during the third inning of Friday night’s ALCS Game 1 against the Red Sox when this happened:
"Oh lord" indeed. Baker had just said starter Framber Valdez was “struggling a little bit,” an assessment that rang true moments later when Kiké Hernandez launched the lefty’s 2-1 curveball to high heaven. That’s 448 breathtaking feet of raw power.
As foreshadowed by Baker, Valdez would not be long for this game with the Red Sox chasing him after just 2 2/3 innings (64 pitches). Hernandez, arguably the star of Boston’s ALDS upset of Tampa Bay, couldn’t be any hotter right now, hitting an even .500 for the playoffs with seven of his 13 hits going for extra bases. He’s been excellent defensively as well, rescuing Chris Sale from a bases-loaded jam with this remarkable inning-ending catch to rob ‘Stros slugger Michael Brantley, who entered Friday’s action riding a 15-game postseason hitting streak.
Though best known for his six-year tenure with the Dodgers, Hernandez actually began his MLB journey with the Astros as a sixth-round pick in 2009, debuting in the bigs for them five years later. The Red Sox hold a slim, 3-1 advantage through five innings at Minute Maid Park.