Editor’s note: Starting Monday, March 23, NESN will re-air memorable games from the Boston Red Sox’s World Series runs. Up first is Game 1 of the 2013 American League Division Series vs. the Tampa Bay Rays. Get the full schedule by clicking here.
The 2013 Boston Red Sox weren’t supposed to contend for the American League East title, let alone a World Series.
Yet, the close-knit bearded brothers rallied around themselves and the entire region following an early-season tragedy that shook Boston’s foundation. What followed was a 97-65 record and an AL East title, but that was just the beginning.
Boston began its postseason on Oct. 4, hosting Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, who knocked off Cleveland in a wild-card game.
Here are six things you may have forgotten about Game 1 that can be seen Monday night on NESN at 6 p.m. ET.
1. Boston Strong
This marked the first playoff game for the Red Sox since the tragic events of the Boston Marathon bombing. The Red Sox conducted a fitting pregame ceremony that included runners, first responders and even some of those injured in the April bombings. With the “Boston Strong” logo mowed into the center-field grass, late Boston mayor Thomas Menino threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“It was very emotional,” Sox outfielder Shane Victorino told reporters. “To see the officers that had sleepless nights trying to find the people involved, they’re amazing. It’s a bittersweet thing. It’s sad to think about it, but there’s emotion and heartfelt excitement, knowing that as a player I can be a part of a city that shows heart, desire and resiliency.”
2. This put Jon Lester on the postseason map
Lester is now on the short list of baseball’s most dependable playoff pitchers, and it started with this 2013 run. We all remember Lester starting the deciding game of the 2007 World Series in Colorado, but he had struggled some in the playoffs entering this series. Lester was 0-3 in his previous three playoff starts, allowing 10 runs in just under 20 innings. In those games, the Sox were outscored 17-3. By the time the Red Sox hoisted the trophy in ’13, though, that seemed like forever ago. Lester shut down Tampa Bay over seven-plus innings, on his way to going 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in five playoff starts in 2013. His postseason ERA since this game? A tidy 2.49.
3. That said, the Rays led early
Tampa Bay actually set the tone in the early innings, jumping out to a 2-0 lead behind home runs from Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist. Rodriguez, especially, has been a thorn in Lester’s side throughout his career, hitting four home runs off the southpaw. Zobrist, meanwhile, eventually joined up with Lester to help the Cubs win the 2016 World Series.
4. The Wil Myers Game
That lead didn’t last long, thanks to Rays right fielder Wil Myers. With a late-afternoon start at Fenway Park, the former super-prospect lost a David Ortiz fly ball in the sunny sky in the bottom of the fourth inning. It was all downhill from there for Tampa. Jonny Gomes (more on him in a bit) followed two batters later, hitting a towering fly ball off the Green Monster to tie the game.
5. Jonny Hustle
Gomes wasn’t done in that game-changing fourth inning. In what can only be described as an all-around hustle play, Stephen Drew extended the inning by beating Rays starter Matt Moore to first base on a slow dribbler to the right side. As Drew was running through the first-base bag, Gomes rounded third and headed for home, scoring the eventual winning run from second base on a grounder to first.
6. Career day for Salty
As a whole, there’s not much about Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s 2013 playoff performance that really stands out, but Game 1 of the ALDS was his best showing. The catcher ultimately would have a bigger moment in Game 2 of the League Championship Series, but he set the tone in this series opener with a two-hit, three-RBI performance. And don’t sleep on his contributions behind the plate. Despite Lester’s well-publicized friendship with David Ross, the lefty actually had much better numbers with Saltalamacchia behind the plate in 2013.
Thumbnail photo via YouTube/MLB