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Tuesday, 15 October 2013 00:04

ALCS Game 2 Recap: Boston Red Sox Walk Off Detroit Tigers

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On sunday night, most fans filed in to Fenway Park for the second game of the American League Championship Series having just watched Tom Brady lead the Patriots to a come from behind win against the undefeated New Orleans Saints. As pre game conversations of the Patriots last second heroics shifted to focus more on the Red Sox, most fans questioned if game 2 could be a repeat of game 1. At first, game two seemed to be a carbon copy of game one. Max Scherzer took the mound for the Detroit Tigers and wasted no time picking up where Anibal Sanchez and co. left off. Through the first five innings the Tigers ace allowed no hits and struck out 9. While Scherzer did hit Shane Victorino with a pitch and allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to reach on a 6 pitch walk, Scherzer effectively changed speeds between fastball and change-up to keep the Red Sox hitters silent. But just as Scherzer kept the Red Sox offense at bay, so to did Clay Buchholz against the Tigers bats. While Boston’s game two starter wasn’t keeping the base paths clean, he did his best to keep the Detroit relatively quiet through the first five innings. After a clean top of the first inning Buchholz allowed 3 straight one out hits. Victor Martinez grooved a double to left center, Jhonny Peralta then followed with a single, and Alex Avila drove in Martinez by knocking a fastball into centerfield. Buchholz managed to stop the bleeding by getting Tigers second baseman, Omar Infante to ground into a 6-4-3 double play that retired the side. The scoreboard would be stuck at one to nothing for the next four and a half but in reality, neither team was close to being done scoring. The top of the 6th inning saw the Tigers highly touted middle of the order finally flex its muscle. Miguel Cabrera added to Detroit’s run tally after he launched a flat change up from Buchholz into the light tower on the Green Monster for a solo home run. Prince Fielder would follow Cabrera’s homer with a double into left field on the very next pitch. Now with a runner on second and only one out, former Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez drove a hanging curveball from Buchholz into right center field that chanced Fielder home. After three rockets hit off of Buchholz, the Red Sox right hander seemed like he had nothing left. But John Farrell had no one warming up in the bullpen and elected to keep the 29 year old in the game, a move the Tigers would make Farrell regret. While Buchholz did end Detroit’s hit steak by getting Jhonny Peralta to line out to short stop, he would not be able to make it out of the 6th inning. With the score now 3-0 with 2 outs and a runner on second, Buchholz delivered what would be his last pitch of his start. Detroit catcher, Alex Avila, drove a 91 MPH fastball over the Tigers bullpen and into the bleacher seats for a 2 run home run that put Detroit up 5-0. This prompted Farrell to finally emerge from Boston’s dugout as Brandon Workman was called upon to replace Buchholz. While it took him 10 pitches to finally record the final out of the 6th, Workman held the score right where it was. Now down 5 runs and still hitless, the Red Sox entered the bottom half of the 6th inning looking for something that would spark a comeback against Scherzer. After Will Middlebrooks lead off the inning with a strike out and Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a pop out, it looked like it was going to be another silent inning for the Red Sox offense. But just when things looked bleak, a spark came in the form of a Shane Victorino single to left center. Fittingly enough, the spark the Red Sox needed was followed by another spark. Dustin Pedroia drove the first fastball that he saw from Max Scherzer high off of the Green Monster as Shane Victorino came across to score Boston’s first run. Although Max Scherzer would not allow any further offense from the Red Sox in the 6th, Pedroia’s double seemed to energize the team and the Fenway faithful. As the seventh inning passed with out any offense, a beacon of light was lit for the Red Sox-- Max Scherzer was lifted from the game after throwing 108 pitches. Tigers manager Jim Leyland called on Jose Veras from the bullpen to continue to stymie the Red Sox offense. While Veras was able to retire Stephen Drew on a ground ball to short to lead off the inning, Will Middlebrooks would start Boston’s 8th inning rally with a one out double to left field. Knowing the Red Sox come from behind potential, Jim Leyland was not going to leave Veras in the game and elected to use his bullpen again. Leyland elected to use the left handed Drew Smyly to face the left handed hitting Jacoby Ellsbury. However, this pitching change back fired on Leyland as Smyly waked Ellsbury on four pitches. Leaving nothing up to chance, Leyland again emerged from the dugout and brought on the right handed Al Albuquerque. With one out and runners on first and second, Albuquerque got Shane Victorino to whiff on a diving slider away. But Boston’s next batter wasn’t about to let the rally die. As Dustin Pedroia reached out and punched a single into right field not only did he load the bases but he also brought (arguably) the most clutch hitter in Red Sox history to the plate. Again, Leyland turned to the bullpen and brought in the Detroit closer Joaquin Benoit in hopes for a four out save. But Big Papi had slightly different plans. Ortiz jumped on Benoit’s first pitch, a change up away, and rocketed it into the Red Sox bullpen for a game tying grand slam. Perhaps shocked of how the game unwraveled or maybe just out of bullpen bullets, Leyland left Benoit in to retire Mike Napoli. Now with the score tied in the top of the 9th, the John Farrell brought in Koji Uehara in hopes for a quick inning. Uehara went on to do what he does best and retire the side in order just 9 pitches. The bottom of the 9th happened in a flash. The Tigers began the inning with their long reliever, Rick Porcello, on the mound. Jonny Gomes greeted Porcello with a broken bat infield grounder that Tigers short stop Jose Iglesias fielded to his right but fired into the dugout, allowing Gomes to move to second. With Gomes now on second the Red Sox next batter, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, watched a wild pitch go to the back stop which chased Gomes to third base. Detroit was then forced to pull their infield in with no outs and a runner on third. Now up in the count 3-and-1, the Red Sox catcher hit a liner past the drawn in Jose Iglesias and into left field, scoring Jonny Gomes and walking off with the victory. While game 2 was a much needed victory that tied the ALCS at a game a side, it also served as a huge momentum swing. The Red Sox were on no-hit alert for the second straight game. The Boston bats seem completely over matched and the Sox couldn’t seem to catch a break. But whether it was Max Scherzer leaving the game or it was finally being able to break through against a Tigers starter, the Red Sox grit and grind ability was enough to mount a historic come back. The ALCS will now shift venus to Detroit as the Red Sox will look to carry their momentum from game 2 into game 3. The Red Sox still have their work cut out for them though as the Tigers will send the former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander to the mound while the Red Sox will counter with John Lackey.