ALCS Game 2: Red Sox 6, Tigers 5

Red Sox rally to top Tigers with walkoff win in the 9th inning


"... This game is tied! This game is tied! David Ortiz, David Ortiz, David Ortiz!" -- The radio call by Dave O'Brien after an 8th inning grand slam by David Ortiz tied Game 2. 
by Steve Silva, Boston.com

By Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff

It ain't over til it's over.

It was true for Tom Brady and the Patriots today in Foxborough. And it was true for David Ortiz and the Red Sox tonight at Fenway Park where Boston rallied for a dramatic 6-5 victory over the pitching-tough Detroit Tigers.

Ortiz lined a grand slam over the bullpen wall in right center with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to tie the game at 5-5 as Fenway Park erupted in euphoria. Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter flipped over the wall in an attempt to grab the rocket shot off Big Papi's bat. The four-run blast came on the first pitch Ortiz saw from Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit. After Stephen Drew grounded out to short to start the eighth, Will Middlebrooks doubled, Jacoby Ellsbury walked, and Dustin Pedroia singled to load the bases before Ortiz delivered his first grand slam of his postseason career.

"We're going to play until the final out," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "David so many times has come up big, whether it's regular season, postseason, none bigger than tonight. When you consider down four runs, not a very likely scenario that you come back from that many runs that late in the game. But we kept grinding out at-bats. A couple of walks and we finally broke through in that sixth inning where we chipped away and got one run. David comes up -- to see the amount of work he's been putting in, just studying Benoit, he gets a first pitch fastball and drives it out of the park... An incredible comeback here tonight."

In the ninth inning, Jonny Gomes singled and advanced to second on a throwing error by Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias. Gomes went to third on a wild pitch and scored the game winner when Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a grounder just out of the reach of Iglesias at short for the walkoff winner. Salty was the first Sox catcher to get a walkoff game winner in the playoffs since Carlton Fisk's foul poul homer in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

"We needed it," Ortiz said after Game 2. "We never give up, we find a way to get back."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland spoke about losing the lead and the game on a night where his team put up spectacular starting pitching for the second night in a row.

"It's playoff baseball," Leyland said. "Looked like we had one in hand and we let one get away, there's no question about that. But there have been two great games, no question about it. Scherzer was terrific. He was spent. last night our bullpen was flawless, and tonight it just wasn't quite as good."

The Red Sox broke up Max Scherzer's no-hit bid with two outs in the sixth inning when Shane Victorino roped a single to left field. Victorino scored Boston's first run of the series when he came in on a Pedroia double off the left field wall. 

"You get your back against the wall, you cave or fight," Pedroia said. " We're gonna fight.

Scherzer had picked up where Anibal Sanchez left off in Game 1. The tough righthander went seven innings and had 13 strikeouts, gave up just two hits, two walks, and one run. The Tigers struck out 32 Red Sox batters over two consecutive postseason games, setting a new MLB playoff record.

It was deja-vu all over again here at Fenway heading into the sixth, as the Sox were looking for their first hit of the night for the second playoff game in a row. Boston had just one hit through 14-2/3 innings of this ALCS until Victorino came through with a base hit.

The Tigers meanwhile appeared to have found their batting stroke, scoring four big runs in the top of the sixth inning, including a pair of homers, to knock Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz out of the game.

Detroit jumped on the board first in the bottom of the second inning. Victor Martinez drilled an opposite field double to left center, red-hot Jhonny Peralta followed with a single to left, then Alex Avila drove in Martinez with a base hit up the middle to make it 1-0. 

In the sixth inning, Miguel Cabrera hit home run No. 2 on the postseason when he drilled a high 1-0 changeup by Buchholz over the left field wall. Then back-to-back doubles by Prince Fielder and Martinez in the sixth made the score a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 in favor of the Tigers. The next batter, Alex Avila, homered over the visitor's bullpen into the bleachers. The two-run shot gave Detroit a 5-0 lead. After an Omar Infante single, Buchholz was done for the night, giving way to Brandon Workman.

Buchholz had settled down after giving up the run in the second, getting the Tigers 1-2-3 in the third inning while picking his third strikeout of the game. Buchholz picked up two more strikeouts in the fourth inning, getting Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to fan to open the inning. The Tigers threatened after the two strikeouts in the fourth when V-Mart was hit -- or rather brushed -- by a pitch, advanced to second base on a wild pitch from Buchholz, scrambled to third on a fielding error by Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew. Buchholz would get out of the jam by getting Avila to fly softly to Jacoby Ellsbury in center, but Cabrera  and Avila got to him with the long balls in the sixth.

Scherzer was simply phenomenal in Game 2, picking up seven strikeouts in the first three innings. He fanned Pedroia and David Ortiz back-to-back after hitting Victorino in the bottom of the first inning. In the second, it was Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes that went down looking. Scherzer struck out the side in the third as Stephen Drew, Will Middlebrooks, and Victorino all went down on strikes. Dustin Pedroia became Scherzer's eighth strikeout victim when he whiffed to open the fourth inning. Jonny Gomes fanned to open the Red Sox fifth inning for strikeout No. 9 while Will Middlebrooks did the same to open the bottom of the sixth inning to make it 10 strikeouts for Scherzer on the night. Ortiz ended the sixth inning by going down swinging for strikeout No. 11 for the Tigers flamethrower. Carp and Gomes fell victim to Scherzer in the seventh, who ended his night striking out 13 Boston batters.

Pedroia made the defensive play of the night, going deep into the hole to grab an Austin Jackson grounder, and quickly throwing him out in the the third inning.

Red Sox righthander John Lackey will square off against Justin Verlander in Game 3 Tuesday afternoon in Detroit.

"Better to head to Detroit 1-1 than 0-2," Ortiz said. "I'm pretty sure that in the game on Tuesday, you're going to see guys have better at-bats. Were are the kind of team that can take advantage of mistakes."

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