When David Ortiz stepped into the batter’s box and took that first pitch off Joaquin Benoit deep over the right field bullpen to tie the game 5-5, everybody watching knew they would never forget it.
Last night was playing out exactly like Game 1 for the first 6 or so innings. The Boston Red Sox looked lost, and it appeared Detroit would ride their pitching to a critical 2-0 advantage in the series. But with four outs to go before a looming 3-game trip to Comerica Park down 0-2, something clicked.
Or better yet, something exploded.
After being absolutely shut down with zero runs in the first 14 innings of the series, the Sox offense finally broke through and reeled off 5 runs in the final two innings to snatch a game from underneath the Tiger’s grasp.
I’m still trying to come down to earth after the events that transpired yesterday, but I will try my best to provide a level-headed look forward at Game 3 of the series.
John Lackey will take the ball for Boston, and his counterpart will be the third member of this trio of aces for the Tigers, Justin Verlander.
Lackey didn’t deliver his best stuff in his ALDS Game 2 outing on October 5th, allowing the Rays to knock him around a bit for 4 runs on 7 hits. He never looked comfortable and had to battle through 5 1/3 innings before being lifted by John Farrell.
It was surprising because Lackey had been tremendous at Fenway Park throughout the regular season. In 13 starts at home, Lackey had an ERA of 2.47, compared to a 4.48 on the road, and despite Fenway being a notorious hitters ball park, he held opponents to just .230 with 8 homers.
But his next postseason appearance will occur on the road. When Farrell made the decision to switch Lackey and Buchholz in the rotation, I kind of shook my head in confusion because of the very numbers I just showed. I understand the desire to have the 1-2 punch of Lester and Buchholz, but I would have felt much more comfortable if Lackey wasn’t pitching in Detroit.
As for Verlander, what else is there to say that hasn’t already been said. He’s every bit as good, or even better, then Sanchez and Scherzer, and if his last start against the Oakland Athletic’s is any indication of how he’s feeling, in the wise words of Larry David, “Pretty, pretty, pretty good.”
His line so far this postseason is 15 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 21 SO. He may look unhittable, but the Red Sox have seen him once already this season back in June and proved otherwise. They were able to produce four runs off of him and get him out of the game after five on a night where he didn’t feature his best stuff. I guess some would say he had a down year in terms of a win/loss record, I don’t see it. The velocity is there, that nasty hook is there too, so the road doesn’t get any easier for Boston.
At this point, why bother trying to make a prediction on what’s going to happen anymore. This series has only been two games long, but it’s been incredible.
The matchup for Game 3 favors Detroit, simply because of Verlander at home, but after last night, the momentum is certainly in favor of Boston. I’ll leave it at that.