Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) celebrates hitting a grand slam during the eighth inning in game two of the American League Championship Series baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)
Dave D'Onofrio's Sox Beat: Dramatic rally helped to clear some heads
It was dire to the point that, when a fan seated near the Sox dugout kept yelling encouragements, citing that day’s dramatic Patriots’ comeback as a reason to stay optimistic, backup catcher David Ross tossed him a ball out of appreciation.
“Wow,” the catcher said he was thinking, “that guy has more hope than I do.”
In Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer, Detroit threw the AL earned run average champion and the presumptive Cy Young Award winner at the Sox in the first two games. But the Sox seemed to make things harder on themselves, too, appearing to let the strike zone of home plate umpire Joe West ruffle them Saturday, then looking like they were pressing as they failed to get a hit over the first five frames on Sunday.
Until the Tigers roughed up Clay Buchholz in the sixth, the scoring differential between the teams was just two runs, and Boston’s pitching was practically matching Detroit’s, minus the strikeouts.
Then, sparked by a Shane Victorino single and a Dustin Pedroia double, they began to shake the funk.
“It was like, ‘Oh, we got a hit and we got on the board in the same inning. OK. Here we go,’” Ross said. “It’s just emotional. I don’t know if it was psychological, just emotional. Just something to cheer for.”
Both the crowd and the dugout were jazzed again two innings later, when Will Middlebrooks mashed a double to the left-field corner. Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a walk in a lefty-on-lefty showdown with Drew Smyly, then, after a Victorino strikeout, the tide continued to rise when Pedroia smacked a single to right to load the bases.
The first 14 innings of the series proved that they are, of course. And now that’s a good thing. Now the Sox are the team with momentum and confidence. Verlander is coming in feeling good about himself, too, after a brilliant effort in Game 5 of the Division Series, but it would’ve been all the more difficult without Sunday’s heroics.
And now that their heads are clear, and hope has been restored both behind the dugout and inside, you may not see it again.