David Ortiz’s eighth-inning grand slam sparked the Boston Red Sox to a 6-5 victory against the Detroit Tigers that tied the American League Championship Series at one game apiece.
The Red Sox, who were held hitless until the sixth inning and trailed 5-1 in the eighth last night at Boston’s Fenway Park, pulled out the win on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The comeback was set up by Ortiz, who hit a two-out grand slam off Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit. It was the first game-tying grand slam to come in the eighth inning or later in Major League Baseball postseason history and prevented the Red Sox from going 2-0 down as the best-of-seven series shifts to Detroit for the next three games.
“We were in a struggle a little bit offensively,” Ortiz said in a televised postgame interview. “We’re known for swinging the bat pretty well and we needed it. We had a ballclub that battled. We never gave up.”
MLB teams leading by five runs or more in a postseason game had only lost 14 times in 473 previous instances, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I’ve seen some crazy things around this ballpark,” Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “I don’t think we were looking at the big picture. We were just trying to find a way one pitch at a time. They pitched us so tough.”
A day after the Red Sox lost Game 1 at home 1-0 and didn’t get a hit until the ninth inning, Boston’s bats were quieted again last night by Tigers starter Max Scherzer, who struck out 13 over seven innings while allowing two hits.
Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila each hit home runs off Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz in the top of the sixth inning as the Tigers opened a 5-0 lead.
Boston got its first hit in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Shane Victorino singled with two outs and scored on Pedroia’s double off the left field wall.
Pedroia also was part of Boston’s rally in the eighth, coming through with a two-out single to load the bases after Will Middlebrooks doubled and Jacoby Ellsbury walked.
“We were just trying to get the tying run to the plate and luckily that was David,” Pedroia said. “I know he likes those situations.”
Ortiz, known as “Big Papi,” then followed with his 15th career postseason homer, sending the first pitch from Benoit over the right-center field fence into the Boston bullpen. The line drive just cleared the outstretched glove of Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter, whose head was bloodied after he flipped over the wall headfirst and landed on his back.
“He almost got that ball, but then he went in the bullpen,” said Ortiz, Boston’s 37-year-old designated hitter.
Ortiz’s grand slam was the fourth in Red Sox postseason history and the first since J.D. Drew hit one in Game 6 of the 2007 AL Championship Series against Cleveland.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Jonny Gomes led off with an infield single, advanced to second on a throwing error and moved to third on a wild pitch by Tigers reliever Rick Porcello. Saltalamacchia followed with a sharp single through Detroit’s drawn-in infield, becoming the first Red Sox catcher with a game-ending hit in a postseason game since Carlton Fisk in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
“It doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as we get the win,” Saltalamacchia said. “This city has been so resilient and that’s how we play the game.”
The Tigers will host Game 3 tomorrow, with Game 4 scheduled for the following day.
The National League Championship Series resumes today in Los Angeles, where the Dodgers trail the St. Louis Cardinals two-games-to-none after a pair of one-run losses in St. Louis.