The Boston Red Sox could have been going to their own execution on Oct. 15 in Detroit. If the Red Sox hadn’t made their improbable rally over the Detroit Tigers on Oct. 13, they would be down 2-0 in the ALCS and staring at a 3-0 deficit with Justin Verlander on the mound. At that point, Boston would have shocked the world by winning just one game in Detroit, let alone by bringing the ALCS back to Fenway -- yet David Ortiz’s grand slam gave the Red Sox a small window.
Verlander and home field advantage still makes the Tigers favored in Game 3. If Verlander does to the Red Sox what he did to the Oakland Athletics twice in the ALDS, it will be like Ortiz’s grand slam never happened. The Red Sox will still have a 2-1 deficit and will have been overmatched by Tigers starting pitching for three straight games, keeping the ALCS firmly in Detroit’s control.
The only way to make Game 2 truly meaningful is for the Red Sox offense to wake up for more than an inning. Even if they lose Game 3, getting to Verlander for a few runs and not getting no-hit for more than five innings would be a win. At the least, Boston would prove that it can get to Detroit’s aces, and could perhaps do better against Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer the second time out.
Of course, an actual win over Verlander and the Tigers would be much better for the Red Sox. If Ortiz’s grand slam does have a carryover effect, Detroit would then become the desperate team. A loss with Verlander on the mound would put big pressure on Doug Fister for Game 4 -- and if he can’t deliver, a 3-1 deficit would be hard to erase even with Sanchez, Scherzer and Verlander in line.
Game 2 turned the ALCS from a blowout into an actual series. But will the Red Sox ride the momentum to make it a blowout in their favor, or will the Tigers be the next team to show resiliency? Game 3 is always a swing game in a 1-1 series, yet the series already swung two days ago -- and now the Red Sox and Tigers will see how much it really changed things.
Boston and Detroit will start their rubber match early at 4:07 p.m. est on FOX.