The New England Patriots were not the only Boston-area sports team that staged an improbable comeback on Sunday. The Boston Red Sox also tried their hand at it, succeeding in avoiding falling into a 2-0 hole in the ALCS. It was a hole that continued to grow for the majority of Game 2 of the ALCS before David Ortiz and the Red Sox managed to fill it in, thanks to a 6-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Now, the series is back on even footing as a result and the Red Sox can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that they can manage to get hits against the Tigers pitching staff.
For half of the game, events were playing out in an eerily similar fashion to Game 1 where the Red Sox only had only one hit for the entire game with that hit not coming until the final inning of the game. Five hitless innings came and went for the Red Sox in Game 2 before they finally put a ball in play in the sixth inning that the Tigers were not able to turn into an out; despite going hitless, the Red Sox did have three base runners over the course of the first five innings with Shane Victorino having been hit by a pitch and Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz both drawing walks, but no runner made it past first base.
That is, until the sixth inning when Shane Victorino's single was immediately followed by a double by Dustin Pedroia, providing the Red Sox with their first two hits of the contest and netting them their first run of the game. However, as thrilling as that accomplishment must have been for the Red Sox after their offensive struggles through the first 14 innings of the ALCS, the immediate impact of that run meant little.
After Victorino crossed the plate, the win expectancy for the Red Sox stood at 8.1 percent since by that point, the Tigers had already scored five runs against Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz as they bunched up their hits in two innings. The Tigers had utilized three hits in the second inning to score their first run of the game and then tacked on an additional four runs in the top of the sixth inning off of four hits. Of the eight hits the Tigers got against Buchholz, five of them went for extra bases so they were no doubt sad to see Buchholz leave after 5.7 innings of work; the Tigers did not record a single hit subsequent to Buchholz's departure.
The work of relievers Brandon Workman, Felix Doubront, and Koji Uehara to keep the Tigers from getting any hits over the final 3.3 innings paid huge dividends for the Red Sox since it allowed the game from getting completely out of reach. Even so, after Stephen Drew grounded out to begin the bottom of the eight inning, the win expectancy for the Red Sox stood at a less than robust 2.8 percent. That is, until three of the next four Red Sox hitters reached base safely, giving Ortiz a chance to play hero with the bases loaded and two outs. Ortiz performed his role impeccably, hitting a grand slam to tie the score at 5-5 and increase the Red Sox's win expectancy to 52.7 percent.
To score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Red Sox did not have to do as much work as they did to tie it, needing only two singles because the Tigers played so fast and loose with the baseball. Jonny Gomes had a leadoff single, advanced to second base after a throwing error by Tigers second baseman Jose Iglesias, and then advanced to third base following a wild pitch by Rick Porcello. Gomes was then driven in by a Jarrod Saltalamacchia single for the winning run.
Perhaps the Boston Red Sox bats have finally woken up after a game and a half long slumber and what they did on Sunday night is a harbing of future offensive production. If so, the Tigers will find it increasingly difficult to defeat the only opponent in the major leagues who can out-hit and out-slug them.