Wow! That was playoff baseball.
A little over halfway into Game 2 of the ALCS and the Red Sox bubble had nearly burst. Clay Buchholz had just given up four runs to make the score 5-0. And for the second time in as many nights the Red Sox were being no-hit into the sixth inning. Two innings later, though, David Ortiz changed all of that.
Down 5-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, David Ortiz walked to the plate with the chance to create a little history. And he obliged. Facing Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit with two outs and the bases loaded, Ortiz nailed the first pitch he saw for a line drive home run into the right field bullpen. Cue insanity. One inning later, in the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox went on to win with a walkoff single by Jared Saltalamacchia. Series tied. But this was in no way an easy win for Boston.
Detroit’s Max Scherzer – who finished with 13 Ks – was on fire for the first five innings, allowing zero hits and only a few baserunners by way of walks. Then, in the sixth, he gave up his first hit to Shane Victorino with two outs. Pedroia followed with a double off the Green Monster and life was ushered back into Fenway Park for the first time since the beginning of the game. David Ortiz was up next. Unfazed by the raucus crowd and the thought of facing Boston’s biggest power bat, Scherzer dug in and got the strikeout which killed the rally. Luckily for Ortiz, he would have a second shot for Red Sox redemption.
In the eighth inning, Tigers manager Jim Leyland replaced Scherzer with Jose Veras. After a one-out double to Will Middlebrooks, Drew Smyly was called in to face Jacoby Ellsbury, but ended up walking him causing yet another pitching change. Al Alburquerque was brought in and got Victorino to strike out. He then gave up a two out single to Dustin Pedroia which set the stage for the Big Papi heroics (and Torii Hunter’s flip).
After Uehara went 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth, Jonny Gomes started off the bottom half with a hard hit ball deep in the hole at short. Jose Iglesias made a great stop, but the throw was wild and went into the stands, allowing Gomes to move to second. Gomes then advanced to third a few pitches later on a wild pitch, setting up the game-winning single by Saltalamacchia.
But the moment wasn’t Salty’s – it was Big Papi’s. This is one of those times where you look back to a single play and say, “That was it.” Well, that was it. If the Red Sox move on to the World Series, they can thank David Ortiz. Theoretically, if a team goes up 2-0 in a 7 game series, they will win about 80% of the time. Mathematically and emotionally, this win was huge. And this win would not have happened without David Ortiz. It turned the game around. It turned the series around. It may have even turned the Red Sox postseason around.
Although the Sox face Justin Verlander in Detroit for Game 3, they are the team with the momentum currently. Fear the beards, people. A giant may have just awoken.