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Home » 2013 PostseasonOctober 2013 » Fateful Eighth

Fateful Eighth

Boston made up for the lack of offense with defensive dazzlers. In the third Stephen Drew made a catch in shallow center of Don Kelly’s soft fly ball that wasn’t as spectacular as his play from the first game of the series but still stopped the leadoff batter from reaching base.

The next batter, Austin Jackson, was robbed of a hit when Pedroia doggedly pursued the ball and tackled it before it broke for the outfield. With Jackson charging down the first base line Pedroia knew he had to get rid of the ball quickly so he fired it from his knees. Mike Carp extended far, as long as Mike Napoli’s beard, to glove the ball for the out.

The no-hitter ended earlier in this game than in the first game of this series, mercifully. With two down in the sixth Shane Victorino slapped a single into shallow left field, a less painful way to get on base than a Max Scherzer fastball. That put Victorino in the position to score the Red Sox’s first run of the series. Dustin Pedroia sent a fly ball to left that glanced off the wall for an RBI double. David Ortiz struck out to end the frame. The score was 5-1 and the win expectancy percentage 5.9, a seemingly unbridgeable divide given how exceptionally Scherzer pitched: 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 13 strikeouts.

Then Ortiz clouted yet another one of his prodigious home runs. This one was a grand slam, the first game-tying grand slam hit in the eighth inning or later. Because Jim Leyland was switching pitchers faster than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends every run was charged against a different pitcher. Jose Veras was responsible for Will Middlebrooks scalding a double to the left field corner, Drew Smyly allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to reach on a walk, Al Alburquerque allowed Pedroia to single, and Joaquin Benoit surrendered the line drive homer off Ortiz’s bat.

Benoit shouldn’t blame himself. It’s October. It’s Ortiz.

One of John Farrell’s lineup changes didn’t pay dividends until the ninth frame. Jonny Gomes led off the inning with a single between Miguel Cabrera and Jose Iglesias. A third baseman with more than fall-down range could have made the play. To compensate for Cabrera’s lack of mobility Iglesias had to shade towards third base. It was remarkable that he made it to the ball but instead of holding the ball he tried to make a web gem of his own. Prince Fielder didn’t do his middle infielder any favors by failing to stop the ball from flying into the photographers’ well, permitting Gomes to take second. What could have been an out turned into a runner in scoring position.

Rick Porcello had to pitch from the stretch to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The catcher fouled off a pitch that Fielder couldn’t wrest away from fans in the first row. At least they were friendly; 19 seconds in shows the kid nearest the play waving at Fielder. Steve Horgan, the Boston police officer who celebrated Ortiz’s grand slam, got his fifteen minutes of fame. I want to know more about waving boy or animated sign woman.

Next Porcello uncorked a wild pitch and Gomes bolted to third. Saltalamacchia went down low and sent a scorching grounder past Iglesias to plate the game-winning run. He could have kept on running all the way to Detroit the way his teammates rushed after him.

Earlier in the day there were similar goings-on at Foxborough. Like Ortiz, rumors of the demise of Tom Brady’s skills were greatly exaggerated.

ALCS Game 2: October 13, 2013
Detroit Tigers
5 H: Al Alburquerque (2)
BS: Joaquin Benoit (1)
L: Rick Porcello (0-1)
2B: Victor Martinez – 2 (2), Prince Fielder (1)
HR: Miguel Cabrera (1), Alex Avila (1)
WinBoston Red Sox
6 W: Koji Uehara (1-0)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (1), Will Middlebrooks (1)
HR: David Ortiz (1)

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