ALDS: Red Sox use Barrage of Homers to bind series with rays
NS. PETERSBURG, Florida – The Boston Red Sox are an imperfect team. They made the second most field mistakes in the major leagues during the regular season. Your pitching employees rank in the top third or in the middle, depending on the statistics. But make no mistake, you can absolutely crush the ball.
So when they fell early on Friday in the second game of the American League’s best-of-five division series against the Tampa Bay Rays, there was nothing to worry about. You can almost always fight your way out of a traffic jam, with a game 1 shutout being the exception, not the rule.
“We have led in comeback wins in baseball this year,” said midfielder Enrique Hernandez. “We did all of this during the season, so why not now? It wasn’t a win or a home game, but for us it was a kind of mentality. “
To come back for a 14-6 win at Tropicana Field that made up the streak with one game apiece, the Red Sox, the team with the fifth highest scoring in baseball during the regular season, have a team record of five home runs blown up after the season.
At the top was Hernandez, who became the first player to accumulate four extra base hits in a postseason game since likely future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols did so for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the 2011 National League Championship Series. Hernandez finished the night 5 for 6, with three doubles, a home run, three runs scored and three batted-ins.
The series is now shifting to Boston, where the Red Sox have been the best hitting team at home this season. Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday.
“Hitting is contagious and these guys were excited,” said Red Sox designated hitter JD Martinez.
Friday’s first inning was a nightmare for the Red Sox. After shortstop Xander Bogaerts and left field player Alex Verdugo, the Red Sox gave a 2-0 lead with individual run scoring, starting pitcher Chris Sale imploded.
Sale made only his 10th appearance since returning from Tommy John’s surgery and subsequent setbacks, loading the bases and coughing an RBI single to Yandy Diaz. Sale still lacked his full arsenal of pitches and gave Jordan Luplow a grand slam to put the Rays 5-2 ahead.
But for the next innings, the Red Sox dragged the Rays, the defending AL champions who have one of the best pitching stabs in baseball.
“The thugs just didn’t stop,” said Verdugo. “You were adamant.”
Solo home runs by Verdugo and Bogaerts reduced the gap to 5-4 in the third inning. Two frames later, the Red Sox finally shot forward.
Hernandez, a member of the 2020 World Series Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, played in his 61st year.
The Red Sox then took an 8-5 lead after a three-run shot from Martinez, who was in his first game since twisting his left ankle while entering the second base in Sunday’s regular season finale.
Before hitting pre-game practice, Martinez was unsure how his improving ankle would feel. But after a round of hitting, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Martinez told him, “Hey jefe (Boss), let’s go. “
Cora hit Martinez, the team’s most decorated racket, sixth in the line-up, lower than usual just in case Martinez’s ankle forced him to leave the game early. He delivered four hits.
“Hats off to our athletic training staff for doing miracles,” said Martinez.
On the hill for the Red Sox, Tanner Houck saved the day after Sale lasted an inning. Houck only gave up one run of five innings and allowed his belligerent teammates to storm back. It was his only flaw over 11 innings that week.
“That was huge, absolutely huge,” said Verdugo and later added: “That gave us enough time.”