The finale of the three-game series between the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers proved to be a stark departure from the opening two games of the series. Gone was any semblance of the fact that these two clubs are virtually identical based on the talent on their rosters and the production that talent is capable of producing. In the place of parity, the third game presented a completely new dimension to the series between the two American League juggernauts: the blowout. And like with the vast majority of blowout games in which the Boston Red Sox have been in this season, they were on the winning side, defeating the Tigers in a 20-4 rout.
Although the margin of victory ended up being 16 runs, it was not readily apparent that the game would turn into such a one-sided affair. For the first four innings, it looked like it would be another version of a close contest, one predicated more on the two teams trading runs rather than having two pitchers stifle the prolific offenses.
With Rick Porcello (4.44 ERA before Wednesday's contest) starting for the Tigers and Dempster (4.75 ERA before Wednesday) taking the ball for the Red Sox, it was assured that there would be a high number of runs scored in the game, and neither pitcher disappointed on that account. Through the first four innings of the contest, both pitchers allowed four runs.
Then Dempster righted the ship over the last two innings of his outing, retiring six of the seven batters he faced in the fifth and sixth innings. Porcello's pitches, on the other hand, continued to lead to runs for the Red Sox. In the fifth inning Dustin Pedroia hit a sacrifice fly against him and in the sixth inning, issued three walks and gave up a double. The last walk Porcello gifted to the Red Sox came with the bases loaded and no outs so the Red Sox were able to score a run and also keep the bases loaded.
Porcello was removed from the game after that plate appearance, but the damage he had done reverberated through the next plate appearance. With the bases loaded and no outs, the Red Sox possessed a run expectancy of 2.43, presenting an almost impossible situation for Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque to extricate the Tigers from and a situation in which Alburquerque failed spectacularly.
Will Middlebrooks, the first batter Alburquerque faced, hit a grand slam, giving the Red Sox a 10-4 lead and further wrecking any chance the Tigers had to win the contest. Alburquerque was not done surrendering runs, though, as his guilt over giving up the grand slam, of which three runs were charged to Porcello, led him to giving up more earned runs of his own. He gave up three additional earned runs, off of a double and a two-run home run, before he was removed from the game.
His replacement, Jeremy Bonderman, fared no better against the completely locked-in Red Sox hitters. In the seventh inning, Bonderman gave up two home runs and an RBI single that translated into five more runs for the Red Sox as they pushed their lead to 18-4. Red Sox Ryan Lavarnway's two-run home to start the seventh-inning scoring was the hit that gave the team a win expectancy of 100.0 percent, but the Red Sox onslaught continued nonetheless.
After Bonderman was taken out of the game, the Red Sox continued to destroy the self-esteem of Tigers pitchers by also scoring against Tigers reliever Evan Reed, against whom the Red Sox tacked on another two runs in the eighth inning.
The historically impressive offensive display, which included eight home runs being hit, resulted in the Red Sox posting a memorable batting line of .463 BA/.521 OBP/1.146 SLG with a .671 wOBA.
Having won the series against the Tigers and established their American League supremacy, the Red Sox will move on and seek to dominate the Yankees in a four-game series to the same extent as they handled the Tigers on Wednesday. The club can only hope the regression to the mean from Wednesday's production does not hit them too hard in future contests.