The legend of David Ortiz grew once again on Sunday night. With the Red Sox trailing by a score of 5-1 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Ortiz stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Facing Detroit closer Joaquin Benoit, a pitcher he had little success against in his career, Ortiz wasted no time. On the first pitch of the at bat, an 86 mph change up, Ortiz swung away and sent the ball flying off deep into the night. The grand slam tied the game up at 5-5 and set the scene for one of the most improbable victories in playoff history.
Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of last night’s game for the Tigers was the fact that they wasted a fantastic start from Max Scherzer and missed out on an opportunity to put the series seemingly out of reach for the Red Sox. Having a 2-0 lead heading back to Detroit with Justin Verlander on the mound is a lot different from heading back tied 1-1. As for Scherzer, he went seven innings and allowed only one run on two hits while striking out a whopping 13 Red Sox. It was the second straight game in which the Red Sox looked like they had never swung baseball bats before.
Meanwhile, the Tiger offense showed up in full force behind the likely AL Cy Young award winner. They got on the board early thanks to an Alex Avila single in the top of the second. Then in the six, the Tigers exploded for four more runs. A Miguel Cabrera solo home run made it 2-0. Victor Martinez followed with an RBI double to score Prince Fielder. Then Avila stepped to the plate and came through with a two run shot to right that cleared the Red Sox bullpen with ease. It capped off a 2-3, 3 RBI night for Avila. Funny, you’d think I declared him a possible x-factor heading into this game.
After that four run explosion, things looked bleak for the Red Sox. They were unable to get anything going offensively even after Scherzer exited the game. That is until the bottom half of the eighth.
Before Ortiz delivered with the game tying grand slam, Wil Middlebrooks doubled with one out. Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a great at bat that ended in a walk after falling behind in the count 1-2. Following a Shane Victorino strikeout, Dustin Pedroia slapped a single into right field to move everyone up one base. That’s when Big Papi decided to tie the game up and restore the Red Sox mojo with one swing of the bat. After the ball, and Torii Hunter, cleared the wall you knew there was no way the Red Sox were going to lose this game.
That came to fruition in the bottom of the ninth. Rick Porcello took the mound in relief for Jim Leyland and the Tigers, but he wasn’t helped out by his defense at all. Johnny Gomes reached safely on an infield single to short stop Jose Iglesias. However, Iglesias made an ill-advised throw to first that got past Prince Fielder and allowed Gomes to advance to second. Gomes then proceeded to advance to third when Porcello uncorked a wild pitch. A few pitches later, after benefiting from a non-called possible fan interference on a pop up to Fielder, Jarrod Saltalamacchia slapped a single to left field, plating Gomes and clinching the victory for the Red Sox. Pandemonium ensued as the Red Sox charged the field and the fans went nuts.
With the victory by the Red Sox, the ALCS is now tied up at 1-1. They will travel to Detroit for game three, which is scheduled for a 4:00 pm first pitch on Tuesday. Justin Verlander will take the mound for the Tigers against the Red Sox John Lackey