This was one they absolutely HAD to win. And sure enough, they did.
But for most of the night, it sure didn’t look that way.
After almost being no-hit the night before, the Red Sox hitting slump continued against Max Scherzer. Scherzer wouldn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning (a single to Shane Victorino. Dustin Pedroia followed with an RBI double). The Sox would strike out 13 times in the seven innings Scherzer was on the hill.
Clay Buchholz kept pace for the first five innings, striking out six while giving up one run on two hits. But he unraveled in the sixth where he would give up home runs to Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila.
With Detroit up 5-1 after seven innings, Jim Leyland would turn to his bullpen for the final six outs. Jose Veras would record the first out before giving up a double to Will Middlebrooks. Drew Smyly came in and walked Jacoby Ellsbury. Then came Al Alburquerque. He would strike out Shane Victorino before giving up a bases-loading single to Dustin Pedroia (and a wise move by third base coach Brian Butterfield to give Middlebrooks the stop sign). Joaquin Benoit would then come in as the fourth pitcher used in the inning. His first pitch to David Ortiz was a fast ball right down the middle…
Ortiz would send that pitch (and Torii Hunter for that matter) over the right field fence for a game tying grand slam to add yet another chapter to Papi’s storied postseason career.
Koji Uehara would retire the side in order on nine pitches in the top of the ninth.
Rick Porcello came in for the Tigers in the bottom of the ninth. Jonny Gomes would hit a slow grounder to the left side of the infield. Jose “Rey Ordonez 2″ Iglesias would channel his inner Chuck Knoblauch, overthrowing Prince Fielder and sending the ball into the stands, sending Gomes to second. A wild pitch would send Gomes to third. A few pitches later, Jarrod Saltalamacchia would hit his own grounder to the left side. This one would get past Rey Ordonez 2 two for a walkoff single.
Saltalamacchia’s walkoff was the first in the postseason for a Sox catcher since Carlton Fisk‘s memorable homer vs the Reds in the 1975 World Series.
This win is a big momentum boost for the Red Sox. They (and all of us for that matter) probably feel much better going into Detroit with the series at 1-1 rather that 0-2. Even more so with Justin Verlander being the man going for the Tigers on Tuesday. Verlander appears to be his stellar October self, but the Sox have hit him hard before. The Sox will counter with a well-rested John Lackey.