Sunday, October 20, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 5, Tigers 2
By Gordon Edes
BOSTON -- Winning the American League pennant in grand fashion, the Red Sox are going back to the World Series for the third time in 10 seasons, and will be taking an eight-game Series winning streak into Game 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Shane Victorino, so frustrated by his lack of production that he couldn't decide what side of the plate to hit from in Game 5, hit a grand slam into the Monster seats to wipe out a 2-1 deficit in the seventh inning, the deciding blow in a 5-2 Red Sox victory that eliminated the Detroit Tigers, 4 games to 2, before a crowd of 38,823 in Fenway Park.
The Red Sox hit a major league-leading nine grand slams in the regular season, including a club-record five in September, and hit two in the American League Championship Series -- a series-shifting slam by David Ortiz in Game 2 last Sunday night, and Victorino's game-winner Saturday night, which came off reliever Jose Veras.
Koji time: Red Sox closer Koji Uehara pitched a scoreless ninth to finish the ALCS with a victory and three saves. Uehara struck out Alex Avila to start the ninth, then threw out Omar Infante on a bunt back to the mound. Austin Jackson singled off the glove of shortstop Stephen Drew, but Jose Iglesias, who began the season in a Red Sox uniform before being traded in a three-team deal, went down swinging to end it. Uehara pitched six scoreless innings in the series, allowing four hits, while striking out nine. He did not walk a batter.
Iggy popped: Tigers shortstop Iglesias, the most gifted defender on either team, made two crucial errors in this series, both of which led directly to Detroit losses. Iglesias bobbled what would have been an inning-ending double play just before Victorino's grand slam in the seventh, compounding the throwing error on Jonny Gomes's infield hit just before Jarrod Saltalamacchia's game-winning hit in Game 2.
X-man: Xander Bogaerts, reprising the rookie-sensation role originated by Jacoby Ellsbury in the 2007 postseason, worked Max Scherzer to full counts in all three of his at-bats, and reached base each time: He walked in the third, doubled and scored on Ellsbury's single in the fifth, and fought back from a 1-and-2 count to draw another walk with Gomes aboard on a double in the seventh, leading to Scherzer's departure. In 11 plate appearances in the postseason, Bogaerts reached base 8 times, on 3 hits and 5 walks, and scored in 5 of the 6 games in which he appeared.
Max factor: Scherzer was not as dominating as he was in Game 2, when he held the Sox to two hits and struck out 13, but extracted himself from three jams before finally cracking in the seventh. He walked the first two batters in the third before making a terrific catch of Victorino's popped-up bunt. He then survived Dustin Pedroia's near-miss home run before inducing him to ground into an inning-ending double play. In the sixth, he hit Victorino with a pitch and walked Pedroia, but then retired Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Saltalamacchia in succession. But Scherzer walked five, a number he reached only once this season, when he walked six against the Twins in a 1-0 win Sept. 25, and with two on and one out in the seventh, and having thrown 110 pitches, Tigers manager Jim Leyland was not going to let him try to escape one more jam.
Base-running blues: The Tigers ran themselves out of a big inning in the sixth. With two runs already in on Victor Martinez's two-run single and runners on the corners with no outs, Prince Fielder got hung up between third and home on a softly hit ground ball to Pedroia. The Red Sox second baseman was able to tag out Martinez, then throw home, with Fielder belly-flopping short of third as Sox catcher Saltalamacchia tagged him out. In the seventh, Jackson was picked off first by Sox reliever Brandon Workman after his one-out single.
Ghost of Jim Burton: With Clay Buchholz clearly out of gas in the sixth -- when his fastball was topping out at 88 miles an hour -- Sox manager John Farrell summoned little-used Franklin Morales to face Fielder. Morales, who had pitched an inning of mopup relief in Game 4, walked Fielder on four pitches to load the bases, then gave up Martinez's two-run single.