If there are two words that can best describe game two of the 2013 ALCS, it would be, “instant classic.”
The Detroit Tigers were up 5-1 with two outs in the bottom of the 8th at Fenway Park in Boston against the Boston Red Sox. Detroit looked to be in cruise control through the first seven innings. Max Scherzer took a no-hitter into the 6th and gave up just two hits, no runs and 13 strikeouts. He dominated Boston. They were lifeless and looked to go back to Comerica Park down 2-0 in the ALCS.
The problem though, is that Detroit’s bullpen had an epic meltdown. Jose Veras came on, retired Stephen Drew in the bottom of the 8th before surrendering a double to Will Middlebrooks and the rally began. He departed. Then Drew Smyly came in and walked Jacoby Ellsbury. In came Al Alburquerque, who struck out Shane Victorino and gave up a base hit to Dustin Pedroia before David Ortiz stepped up to the plate.
Big Papi is no stranger to postseason glory. Joaquin Benoit came in, trying to nail down a four out save. With the first pitch of the at-bat, it was gone and all tied up. That was an epic meltdown if a fan has ever seen one.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd. Miguel Cabrera crushed a home run to left field. Then Prince Fielder had a double the very next pitch, and Victor Martinez doubled to get Fielder to score. Two batters later, Alex Avila, who had already driven in a run, connected on a two-run shot to right to make it 5-0 Detroit. With the way Scherzer had been pitching and with how lifeless Boston had been, it looked as if they were getting ready to say goodnight in game two.
There’s nothing like late-inning drama in the MLB playoffs. Absolutely nothing. This is a Red Sox team that struck out 17 times in game one, 12 of them from Anibal Sanchez. So Sanchez and Scherzer combined to strike out 25 Red Sox. They pitched out of their minds. Yet Boston came back from the dead with two outs in the bottom of the 8th, and Detroit is very lucky they won game one and now have home field advantage the next three games in this ALCS.
The good news for the Tigers is Justin Verlander is going in game 3 in Detroit on Tuesday. He struck out 10 on Thursday in game 5 of the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics. He pitched 8 scoreless innings, giving up just 2 hits and 1 walk.
He’ll be opposed by John Lackey, who won game 2 of the ALDS vs. the Tampa Bay Rays.
With the way Detroit’s starters have been and the series shifting to Comerica, it’s not time to hit the panic button just yet, but Sunday’s comeback fundamentally changed things and all the momentum Detroit had shifted to Boston in a hurry.
Based on how this thing is going so far, five games may not be enough to decide. It might take a full seven.