October 8, 2021

ALDS 2: Red Sox 14, Rays 6

Red Sox - 202 040 123 - 14 20  0
Rays - 500 001 000 - 6 8 0

The Red Sox, desperate to turn the page after being shutout on Thursday, grabbed an early 2-0 lead before experiencing a grim shock as Chris Sale was torched for five runs before he recorded a second out. And then the unexpected happened. 

Sixteen of the next 17 Rays (and 21 of 23) were retired, thanks mainly to Tanner Houck, and Boston's bats finally were delivered to the Trop. Over the next eight innings, the Red Sox bashed sixteen hits, including five home runs, outscoring the defending AL champions 12-1. Evening up the series at one game apiece made the flight to Boston much more pleasant.

Five Red Sox hitters had three or more hits, tying a major league postseason record. The only other team to do that was the 1999 Red Sox, in ALDS Game 4 on October 10, 1999, in a 23-7 pasting of Cleveland. That was the game immediately before Pedro Martinez came out of the bullpen and gutted his way through six no-hit innings.

Friday's damage:
Kike Hernandez: 5-for-6, three doubles, home run, three runs scored, three RBI
J.D. Martinez: 4-for-5, double, home run, three RBI
Xander Bogaerts: 3-for-5, home run, two runs scored, two RBI
Alex Verdugo: 3-for-5, home run, two runs scored, two RBI
Christian Vazquez: 3-for-5, one run scored, two RBI
The Red Sox are the first team in postseason history to have six different players drive in two or more runs in the same game. (Boston went 9-for-18 with RATS.)

This was also the third game in Red Sox history in which four players had three or more hits including a home run. 
May 28, 1999 at Cleveland: Brian Daubach, Nomar Garciaparra, Mike Stanley, Jason Varitek
July 23, 2002 vs Rays: Johnny Damon, Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon
Teams With 14+ Runs And 20+ Hits, Postseason
Atlanta, 1996 NLCS 5 at Cardinals (14-0)
Red Sox, 1999 ALDS 4 vs Cleveland (23-7)
Diamondbacks, 2001 WS 6 vs Yankees (15-2)
Yankees, 2004 ALCS 3 at Red Sox (19-8)
Red Sox, 2021 ALDS 2 at Rays (14-6)
Road Teams Hitting Five Home Runs In A Postseason Game
Yankees, 1928 WS 4 at Cardinals (7-3)
Athletics, 1989 WS 3 at Giants (13-7)
Red Sox, 2021 ALDS 2 at Rays (14-6)
(Note: In 2020, two teams did it at a neutral site, playing as the "road" team.)

Kike "First Last Name" Hernandez:
Fifth player in postseason history with four extra-base hits in a game (Frank Isbell, 1906 WS 5; Bob Robertson, 1971 NLCS 2; Hideki Matsui, 2004 ALCS 3, Albert Pujols, 2001 NLCS 2)

Second player in postseason history with a homer and three doubles in the same game (Albert Pujols, 2011 NLCS 2)

Second player in postseason history with both a five-hit game and a three-homer game (3 homers in 2017 NLCS 5), joining Albert Pujols (both in 2011 WS 3)

Second player in postseason history with five hits, including four extra-base hits, in a game (Hideki Matsui, 2004 ALCS 3)

Third player in postseason history with at least five hits, three RBI and three runs scored (Hideki Matsui, 2004 ALCS 3 and Albert Pujols, 2011 WS 3)

Second Red Sox player with five hits in a postseason game (Mike Stanley: 5-for-6 in 1999 ALDS 4) and 10th player overall in major league history

First player in Red Sox history with four extra-base hits in a postseason game

Fourth Red Sox player with three doubles and a home run in any game (Dwight Evans, October 4, 1980 vs Blue Jays; Bill Haselman, April 27, 1997 at Orioles; and Jackie Bradley, August 15, 2015 vs Mariners)

With J.D. Martinez, the second pair of Red Sox teammates with four or more hits in a postseason game (Mike Stanley (5-for-6), John Valentin (4-for-5), and Jason Varitek (4-for-5), 1999 ALDS 4)
It was also the fourth game ever in which the Red Sox belted five home runs in Tampa Bay. The others: September 20, 2005 (15-2), September 15, 2008 (13-5), and September 12, 2015 (10-4).

AND it was the first game in Rays history in which they scored five or more runs in the first inning and ended up losing the game by more than five runs.

The Rays had not allowed as many as 14 runs in a game since the Red Sox crushed them 20-8 on August 11.

Houck (5-2-1-0-5, 61) was outstanding, retiring his first 11 batters and allowing Tampa Bay a run only after his teammates had taken an 8-5 lead. Houck became the second Red Sox pitcher to throw at least five innings in a postseason game and allow two or fewer hits, the other game being, of course, the aforementioned 1999 Pedro game in Cleveland.

The game began on a high note, as Kyle Schwarber walked on four pitches against Shane Baz, who had made his major league debut only 18 days ago. Hernandez ripped an 0-2 pitch down the left field line, giving Boston runners at the corners. Devers struck out, but singles by Bogaerts and Verdugo gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. Martinez's single to right loaded the bases, but Hunter Renfroe GIDP.

Chris Sale's (1-4-5-1-2, 30) first two pitches were turned into singles by Randy Arozarena and Wander Franco. After Sale struck out Brandon Lowe, he walked Nelson Cruz on four pitches, loading the bases. Yandy Díaz's single cut the lead to 2-1. Jordan Luplow fell behind 0-2 before clubbing a high fastball to left for a grand slam.

Sale recovered to get the next two hitters, but his night was over. This was demoralizing. Plus, my work life intruded. I was working on a job when my laptop suddenly went dark, apparently self-destructing/frying. I was on the phone with my firm's IT department for quite a while and did not return to the game until the bottom of the sixth.

Houck took over for Sale in the second and set the Rays down in order on seven pitches. He struck out the side in the third, pitched a perfect fourth, allowed a meaningless two-out single in the fifth, and was touched for a solo homer by Ji-Man Choi in the sixth. (Verdugo recorded the first out of the fifth with an outstanding grab in foul territory in left, reaching into a crowd of people to spear Kiermaier's pop fly.)

Boston had reclaimed the lead by that point. Bogaerts and Verdugo hit back-to-back home runs in the third, X ending Baz's day (2.1-6-3-1-2, 47) and Verdugo beginning Collin McHugh's outing. The Rays now led 5-4.

Hernandez kicked off the fifth inning with a game-tying, line-drive home run to left. Devers walked. Matt Wisler relieved McHugh and surrendered a single to Bogaerts. One  out later, JDM bopped a three-run dong to center. Boston 8-5!

Hernandez doubled again in the sixth and Devers walked, but Bogaerts fouled to first. Choi's homer brought Tampa Bay to within two runs with three innings remaining . . . so Boston did the only logical thing: scored six more runs.

Verdugo and Martinez both singled to lead off the seventh against Michael Wacha. Renfroe hit into another double play, but Vazquez poked a single down the right field line, scoring Verdugo. 9-6. Ryan Brasier struck out Tampa Bay's 8-9-1 hitters.

In the eighth, Hernandez doubled and Devers drilled a home run to dead center. 11-6. Hansel Robles struck out Franco and Lowe, allowed a hit to Cruz, and got Diaz on a fly to center.

Martinez doubled to start the ninth. Why was Rays manager Kevin Cash allowing Wacha to keep pitching? Danny Santana pinch-ran and Renfroe singled to right. Vazquez singled off the third baseman's glove, beating a throw from the shortstop (he did not slide head-first), as Santana scored. 12-6. The two runners moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Hernandez's single to right-center. 14-6.

Sadly, Wacha (2.2-9-6-0-4, 59) was finally pulled at that point, and the offense stopped. Wacha is the first pitcher in Rays history to give up nine hits, six earned runs, and throw a wild pitch in an outing (regular season or playoffs) of fewer than three innings. Wacha Wacha!

Matt Barnes was given the responsibility of safe-guarding an eight-run lead in the ninth inning. He needed 33 fucking pitches to get that simple job done, which is unacceptable and proof Alex Cora was wise to initially leave him off the ALDS roster. He was added only because Garrett Richards went on the IL.

After Choi singled, Barnes went to a full count on Manuel Margot before striking him out. Barnes walked pinch-hitter Francisco Mejia on four pitches. He needed seven pitches to get Kevin Kiermaier to ground to first, where Dalbec made a nice throw to second for a force. Barnes then went to a full count on Arozarena before walking him (even with a gift strike call on his 2-0 pitch). This was really bang-head-on-desk time. Four more pitches to Franco before he grounded to Devers (at the shortstop spot), who tossed the ball to X for a 5-6 force that the game.

Other games:
Astros 9, White Sox 4 (Houston leads 2-0)
Brewers 2, Atlanta 1 (Milwaukee leads 1-0)
Giants 4, Dodgers 0 (San Francisco leads 1-0)

In a five-game series, a reasonable case can be make that every game is a must-win.

Down 0-1, the Red Sox give Chris Sale the baseball tonight in a must-win* Game 2.

Sale faced the Rays twice in early September.
September 1 at TBR: 6.0 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 95 pitches
September 5 at BOS: 3.2 innings, 10 hits, 5 runs (1 earned), 1 walk, 6 strikeouts, 86 pitches
Sale returned from TJ surgery in mid-August and made nine starts. He says he is "figuring this stuff out as [he goes]". Alex Cora said Sale's changeup is not "where he wants, but he felt like this week he made a few adjustments that might play [tonight]". Opposing hitters are batting .450 (18-for-40) off Sale's changeup.

Sale admitted the pitch has been inconsistent. "If I throw 10 of them, four of them are really good. Two of them are "ehh" and the other ones are batting practice."

Last night, ESPN's Jeff Passan tweeted that Rafael Devers is "clearly compromised" and "is trying to play through an arm injury suffered in the wild card game". The Red Sox said nothing about an injury, but Devers's right arm was bandaged and he struck out twice on fastballs down the heart of the strike zone (at 100 in the first inning and 93 in the eighth). He went 1-for-4.

*: Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but the Rays lost three straight games to the same opponent only three times in 2021. The Red Sox were one of those opponents.
April 5-6-7: Red Sox
April 13-14-15: Texas
June 17-18-19-20: Seattle (4 losses)
Also today:
White Sox at Astros, 1:00 PM ET
Atlanta at Brewers, 4:30 PM ET
Dodgers at Giants, 9:30 PM ET


Paul Hickman said...

Suddenly a chance ?

From the wreckage & ashes .....

A Real Chance !

Zenslinger said...

After the grand slam, I felt 0-3 in 2004 low. I mean low!

FenFan said...

I was in attendance at Fenway for that 23-7 pasting of Cleveland in 1999. Sitting in the bleachers, the Red Sox offense could not be stopped that night. That series also became the first, I believe, in which a team rebounded from an 0-2 division series deficit to advance to the league championship series.