BOSTON — We probably shouldn’t be surprised by anything this team does.
The Red Sox have been providing incredible moments all season, particularly when their backs are against the wall. The most difficult situations always seem to bring out the best in Boston, and that resilience is manifested in this year’s Red Sox team.
Max Scherzer held the Red Sox hitless through 5 2/3 innings in Game 2 on Sunday, and the Tigers jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Detroit held a 5-1 lead with two outs in the eighth inning, and appeared to be on its way to handing Boston a soul-crushing defeat until David Ortiz smacked a game-tying grand slam.
Koji Uehara followed Ortiz’s heroics with a perfect top of the ninth inning, and the Red Sox won the game and evened up the series in the bottom half of the inning by pushing across a run against Rick Porcello. Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in Jonny Gomes with a single into left field.
The Red Sox have had so many memorable moments this season that it’s been hard to pick one as the defining moment. It appears that we finally have a front-runner, as the ALCS changed dramatically in about a half-hour span at Fenway Park on Sunday night.
While Game 2 could eventually be looked back upon as a moment that changed everything, the Red Sox need to make sure that they quickly turn the page, as Justin Verlander awaits them in Detroit. We can still talk about Sunday’s crazy contest, though, so let’s unload the notebook.
David Ortiz’s eighth-inning grand slam was the first grand slam of his postseason career.
It adds to an impressive playoff resume for Ortiz, who is the Red Sox’ all-time leader in postseason runs (44), hits (67), doubles (16), homers (15), RBIs (50), total bases (133) and walks (47).
Ortiz’s grand slam was the fourth in postseason history for the Red Sox. The last was J.D. Drew’s grand salami in Game 6 of the 2007 ALCS against the Indians.
Troy O’Leary (1999 ALDS Game 5) and Johnny Damon (2007 ALCS Game 7) were the other two.
The Red Sox now have 12 walk-off wins in their postseason history.
It’s safe to say that everyone at Fenway Park was thinking about a grand slam when Ortiz stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth inning. Everyone except Ortiz, of course.
“You know, I just tried not to do too much, man. I try to put a good swing on the ball. My idea at‑bat wasn’t to go out and hit a grand slam,” Ortiz said. “We’ve been struggling, when it comes down to put a good swing on the ball. Those guys have been doing an outstanding job hitting the spot and keeping ‑‑ keeping us off balance. If I was telling you about thinking about hitting a gland slam, I’d be lying to you now. You try to put a good swing on the ball and that happens.”
Ortiz’s teammates were impressed not only by the slugger’s grand slam, but by his relative calmness throughout the whole situation.
“Well David Ortiz, I guess that just adds to his resume of awesomeness,” Jonny Gomes said.
Torii Hunter went tumbling into the Red Sox’ bullpen while trying to make a play on Ortiz’s grand slam. The 38-year-old outfielder got pretty dinged up, and players stationed out in Boston’s bullpen immediately rushed to his aid.
Hunter stayed in the game, and later made it clear that a few bumps and bruises aren’t going to keep him off the field. In fact, he wants to be out there as long as he has a pulse.
“I was going up after the ball, and ended up flipping over. It was all or nothing,” Hunter said. “My hip, it hit the top of the wall. Kinda just bruised it a little bit. But this is postseason. I’d die on the field for this. They’re not going to take me off this field.”
Ortiz’s grand slam came on a first-pitch changeup from Joaquin Benoit. Hunter wasn’t too happy after the game about the Tigers trying to challenge Ortiz in that situation.
“It’s obvious. I’m pissed off,” Hunter said. “The one guy you don’t want to beat you, he beat us. One of the best hitters in postseason history. This guy, he hit the ball out of the park, it ties the game up, and they end up coming back and winning the game. We’re all pissed. Everyone on this team is pissed that that happened.
“You don’t want David Ortiz to beat you. Everybody in the whole world knows that this dude can beat you. And it happened. It hurts. But what can you do?”
There was some question after the game why Tigers manager Jim Leyland turned to Benoit instead of lefty Phil Coke.
“Coke hadn’t pitched a big game for quite a while,” Leyland said. “Benoit is our guy against the lefties, and we felt he gave us the best chance to get the out.”
Coke, who was added to the ALCS roster, hasn’t pitched since Sept. 18.
The Red Sox were 3-for-51 with 30 strikeouts in the series before the eighth inning of Game 2.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s walk-off single marked the first walk-off hit in the postseason by a Red Sox catcher since Carlton Fisk’s famous home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
Gomes once again was at the heart of Boston’s ninth-inning heroics. He hustled his way to a broken-bat single, and was awarded second base as Jose Iglesias’ throw sailed past Prince Fielder. Gomes scored the winning run on Salty’s single after taking third base on a wild pitch.
Saltalamacchia was nearly retired on a popup in foul territory before delivering the game-winning hit. The ball clanked off Fielder’s glove near the seats, though, and Salty took advantage of the second chance.
A young kid really let Fielder know he screwed up, too, which was hilarious.
In that crazy 9th inning, this little kid smack talking Prince Fielder after he botched that foul ball was hysterical twitpic.com/dh9jxl— Ben Badler (@BenBadler) October 14, 2013
Salty got splashed by Gatorade after the game. So did Erin Andrews.
Koji Uehara really deserves credit for his work in the ninth inning, as it was a very underrated aspect of Boston’s win.
Uehara needed just nine pitches to make quick work of the Tigers, and it helped keep Boston’s momentum going.
Shane Victorino became the first player ever to get hit by a pitch five times in a single postseason.
Miguel Cabrera has now reached base safely in an MLB-record 31 straight postseason games.
Dave Roberts threw out the ceremonial first pitch Sunday. We probably should have known at that point that something special was bound to happen.
The Red Sox have their work cut out for them in Game 3 in Detroit. Justin Verlander hasn’t given up a run since Sept. 18 — a span of 27 innings.
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