ALDS: Red Sox use Barrage of Homers to tie series with spokes

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – The Boston Red Sox are an imperfect team. They made the second most number of field errors in the major leagues ...


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – The Boston Red Sox are an imperfect team. They made the second most number of field errors in the major leagues during the regular season. Their pitching staff ranks, according to statistics, in the top third or the middle of the pack. But make no mistake, they can absolutely crush the ball.

So when they fell behind the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 2 of the American League Top-Five Series on Friday, there was no need to worry. They can almost always crush a jam, with shutout in game 1 being the exception, not the rule.

“We have led baseball in the comeback wins this year,” said center fielder Enrique Hernandez. “We’ve done everything during the season, so why not do it now? It wasn’t winning or coming home, but for us it was kind of the mentality.

To come back and claim a 14-6 victory at Tropicana Field which tied the series at one game apiece, the Red Sox, the fifth-scoring team in baseball during the regular season, broke a team record in five home series playoffs.

And Hernandez led the way, who became the first player to rack up four more hits in a playoff game since probable future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols did it 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, one homerun, three runs and three runs.

The series now moves to Boston, where the Red Sox were the top batting team at home this season. Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday.

“Hitting is contagious and these guys came out missing,” said Red Sox designate hitter JD Martinez.

The first inning on Friday was a nightmare for the Red Sox. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Alex Verdugo gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead with points scored in singles, starting pitcher Chris Sale imploded.

Making just his 10th appearance since returning from Tommy John’s surgery and subsequent setbacks, Sale loaded up the basics and spat an RBI single at Yandy Diaz. Still lacking in his full throwing arsenal, Sale then ceded a grand slam to Jordan Luplow to give the Rays a 5-2 lead.

But in the following innings, the Red Sox crushed the Rays, the defending AL champions who own one of the best pitching bats in baseball.

“The hitters just didn’t stop,” Verdugo said. “They were relentless.”

The solo home runs of Verdugo and Bogaerts reduced the deficit to 5-4 in the third set. Two images later, the Red Sox have surged for good.

Playing in his 61st career playoff game, Hernandez, a member of the 2020 World Series champions Los Angeles Dodgers, landed a tying home run.

The Red Sox then took an 8-5 lead on a three-point shot from Martinez, who was playing his first game since twisting his left ankle when he entered second base in the final of the regular season Sunday.

Prior to pre-game batting practice, Martinez wasn’t sure how his improving ankle would feel. But after a round of punches, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Martinez told him, “Hey jefe (boss), let’s go.

Cora punched Martinez, the team’s most decorated hitter, sixth in the lineup, lower than usual just in case Martinez’s ankle forced him out of the game early. He delivered four hits.

“Hats off to our athletic training staff for doing wonders,” Martinez said.

On the mound for the Red Sox, Tanner Houck saved the day after Sale lasted an inning. Houck gave up just one point in five innings, allowing his hitting teammates to fight their way back. It was his only flaw in 11 innings this week.

“It was huge, absolutely huge,” Verdugo said, later adding: “It gave us enough time.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: ALDS: Red Sox use Barrage of Homers to tie series with spokes
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