Red Sox remain relentless in comeback attempt

Red Sox remain relentless in comeback attempt
October 14, 2013, 3:15 am
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BOSTON – With 11 walk-off wins and 22 wins decided in their last at-bats in the regular season, the Red Sox had become accustomed to late-inning dramatics. But, their offensive struggles – 32 strikeouts in the first two games of the ALCS, held hitless through the first 5 2/3 innings in each – gave them little reason to think they could pull it off in Game 2.
 
Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer rendered the Sox offense nearly completely ineffective, until the Sox broke through for their first hits and run of the game with two outs in the sixth inning. But that was all they could do off the right-hander.
 
Instead, Sox batters waited to pounce on a quartet of Tigers relievers for four runs in the eighth, tying the game, setting the stage for their walk-off 6-5 win.
 
But, none of that would have been possible without David Ortiz’s eighth-inning, game-tying grand slam.
 
“I think this year you saw us come back pretty good,” said Jonny Gomes, who eventually scored the winning run. “Once you’ve done it once and once you’ve put that on the board, knowing there’s a possibility, knowing the possible isn’t impossible and we stay positive.”
 
The mood in the Sox dugout for their four-run eighth inning was surreal. From four runs down with four outs remaining in the game, to a tie score and a chance for a win.
 
“The whole game, we’re battling and figuring out ways to get on and to see with the way we did coming in in the alter innings,” said Stephen Drew. “We knew that things started clicking and you could feel that. It’s unbelievable how it works out. You never give up. You got 27 outs, and this team’s relentless.”
 
With one out in the eighth, Will Middlebrooks doubled off Jose Veras, the first of four relievers in the inning. Jacoby Ellsbury followed that with a walk off Drew Smyly. With Al Albuquerque pitching,  Shane Victorino struck out and Dustin Pedroia reached on a single, loading the bases for Ortiz.
 
At that point Tigers manager Jim Leyland went to his closer, Joaquin Benoit to face David Ortiz.
 
“Coming against Benoit right there, I felt something good was going to happen,” said Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who eventually drove in the winning run. “I think everyone knew something good was going to happen.”
 
“What did we think? We think he’s going to come through,” Drew said.
 
Ortiz did not let his teammates down. He jumped on Benoit’s first pitch, crushing a laser into the Sox bullpen to tie the game.
 
“We’ve seen it all year, and to hit a grand slam like that on a line drive,” Drew said. “You look at that game, look at the ball Salty hit to right field [in the fifth] and we thought it was a home run. Right field is not a joke out here. It’s a big yard, and for him to do it on a line drive, it’s huge.”
 
“On the bench there's nobody really surprised when he does something like he does,” Saltalamacchia said. “But it's unbelievable. You watch it on TV for so many years, and growing up watching it and then being able to be on the bench and watch that ball go out and seeing him run the bases. It's like any other day. He gets excited but you can't really tell he's any different, if he's rushed or if he's calm, he's the same every day.”
 
Ortiz is no stranger to October drama. But this was the first grand slam of his postseason career.
 
“We need it, man,” he said. “We need start some momentum going on. And I think going back to Detroit 1‑1 is ‑‑ 2‑0, I'm pretty sure that that game that we're going to have on Tuesday against [Justin] Verlander I'm pretty sure you're going to see guys having better at‑bats. I think that, like I say, they have outstanding pitching and we are the kind of team that we try to take advantage of mistakes.

“And the past couple of days, I mean, see the whole regular season you haven't seen a team shutting us down for 14, 15 straight innings like they have the past couple of days.  If you look at the way we've been pitching, unbelievable.  We play those guys seven times during the season, they have a totally different approach, the way they've been pitching these past couple of days. It's up to us make an adjustment.”
 
The normally loquacious Gomes was at a loss to describe the dugout in the eighth inning.
 
“No,” he said. “[But,] that’s pretty special.”
 
As Ortiz circled the bases Fenway Park and the Sox dugout erupted. David Ross was watching from the bench with Jake Peavy and Jon Lester.
 
“It was fun. It was a blast. It was unbelievable,” Ross said. “Honestly, me and Peavy and Les were just talking and [saying], ‘Man, this is really cool.’ Peav was telling a story and then the next thing you knew, they were making a  pitching change so it was still kind of low key. And then he hit that and we went crazy. And it was literally 40 people just ran in front of us. Just pandemonium. It was a cool thing.
 
“It seemed like old hat for David. I’d have been like a little school girl running around the bases if I’d have done that and he just trotted around like it was nothing. Came out tipped his cap. It’s another story for him. I’m just glad I was here in person to watch it.”