It’s been said that baseball is a game of inches.
That couldn’t have rang more true for the Boston Red Sox tonight who missed two home runs (and four RBI) by no more than six inches combined, but it didn’t matter as the Red Sox punched their ticket to the 2013 World Series after defeating the Detroit Tigers, 5-2.
Both starters, Clay Buchholz for Boston and Max Scherzer for Detroit were fantastic, each posting a shutout until the bottom of the fifth inning when Jacoby Ellsbury was able to sneak an RBI single into right field, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
It’s a lead that would only last momentarily as in the next half inning, a Victor Martinez single knocked in two runs, giving Detroit a 2-1 advantage, putting them just twelve outs away from forcing a winner-take-all Game 7.
Unfortunately for the Tigers and their fans, those outs were not easy to come by as a defensive miscue in the bottom of the seventh opened up the flood gates.
Once Max Scherzer was removed from the game after a strong 6.1 innings, Drew Smyly secured a much needed ground ball with two runners on which, if fielded would have at least been good for one out – possibly two. The Tigers instead got none thanks to the Jose Iglesias error. That lead to another pitching change, this time to reliever Jose Veras who was promptly greeted by a Shane Victorino grand slam, putting Boston back on top 5-2. The bomb, which cleared the Green Monster, made history as it was the first time a team had hit two grand slams (Victorino’s and Ortiz’s in Game 2) off a bullpen in ALCS history.
The three-run lead would be all the Red Sox’s ‘pen would need as they shut down the Tigers’ vaulted offense for the final two innings, completing the 4-2 ALCS win.
While the Red Sox will head to their first World Series since 2007, the Tigers will end their reign as American League Champions with a tough pill to swallow considering Detroit left fourteen men on base in the series’ decisive Game 6.
Boston will play host to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night on Fox.