David Ortiz and Shane Victorino were a combined 5-for-46 in the American League Championship Series for the Boston Red Sox, finishing with a .108 batting average, 13 strikeouts, three walks and just three extra base hits.
Those numbers fail to tell the story of the Red Sox historic postseason showdown with the Detroit Tigers.
Ortiz kickstarted a Boston rally late last Sunday with a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth in Game 2, erasing a 5-2 Detroit lead that would have given the Tigers a commanding 2-0 lead heading back to the Detroit with Justin Verlander on the hill for Game 3. Instead the Red Sox won 6-5 and won the next game 1-0 on Mike Napoli’s home run off of Verlander.
Victorino finished off the Tigers on Saturday night, stomping Detroit’s shaky 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning with a one-out grand slam. The Red Sox held on for the 5-2 win and punched its ticket to the World Series by using gritty starting pitching, an iron-clad bullpen and timely hitting.
When the game was on the line, Boston found a way to win.
The Tigers head to an offseason as just the second team in Major League Baseball history to reach three-straight League Championship Series and come away without a World Series. The Kansas City Royals accomplished the feat between 1976 and 1978.
It was another game of missed opportunities for the Tigers.
After Boston took a 1-0 lead on a Jacoby Ellsbury two-out double that scored rookie Xander Bogaerts in the bottom of the fifth, Detroit rallied back in the top of the sixth when Victor Martinez doubled off the Green Monster with no outs and the bases loaded to score Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera.
With Prince Fielder on third and Martinez at first, Jhonny Peralta hit a hard grounder to Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who watched as Fielder ran halfway between third and home. Pedroia tagged Martinez and fired home to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who ran back Fielder back to third and tagged the first baseman after he flopped to the ground short of third base. Don Kelly pinch ran for Peralta at second base but Alex Avila struck out looking to end the Tigers threat and keep the Detroit lead at 2-1.
Victorino and Pedroia reached base on a hit by pitch and walk, respectively, with one in the sixth and both advanced a base on Detroit starter Max Scherzer’s wild pitch. But Scherzer fanned Napoli and got Saltalamacchia to pop out to short stop to end the threat.
Austin Jackson got a one-out single in the top of the seventh but was picked off first base after leaning on a chance to steal second base. The second base-running blunder in two innings loomed large as Jose Iglesias and Hunter both reached on an infield single and error.
John Farrell turned to Junichi Tazawa to get out Cabrera and the tactic worked for a third time in the ALCS as Tazawa got Cabrera to ground out to short stop to end the top of the seventh with Detroit clinging to the 2-1 lead.
Scherzer was pulled in the bottom of the seventh after sandwiching a leadoff double to Jonny Gomes and a walk to Bogaerts around a strikeout of Stephen Drew. Drew Smyly entered the game and got a groundball from Jacoby Ellsbury but shortstop Iglesias couldn’t handle it cleanly on a flip to second baseman Omar Infante and just like that, the bases were loaded with one out.
Jose Veras came in to pitch to Victorino and the right fielder deposited a third-straight curveball over the Green Monster and into the night for the 5-2 lead.
Fenway Park went into a frenzy. Detroit managed to get one base runner in the next two innings and whimpered away from another disappointing postseason run as Iglesias struck out swinging.
Tazawa earned the win with just two pitches thrown, highlighting another strong outing from the Red Sox bullpen, which allowed zero runs on three hits in four innings of work.
Scherzer suffered the loss, allowing three earned runs on four hits with eight strikeouts and five walks in 6 1/3 innings of work.
Boston will try for a third World Series title in a decade when it hosts St. Louis at 8:07 p.m. Wednesday at Fenway Park. Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright is set to start for the Cardinals while Jon Lester toes the slab for the Red Sox.