Editor’s note: Starting Monday, March 23, NESN will re-air memorable games from the Boston Red Sox’s World Series runs. Up next is Game 2 of the 2013 American League Championship Series vs. the Detroit Tigers. Get the full schedule by clicking here.
Game 2 of the 2013 American League Championship Series can be summed up in six words: David Ortiz, David Ortiz, David Ortiz.
After being shut out by Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers in Game 1, the Red Sox needed heroics from their legendary designated hitter to avoid a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 series lead while heading to Detroit.
With the Sox trailing by four late in the game, Ortiz strode to the plate with the bases loaded and did what he did so many times before in big spots: he delivered.
Here are a few things you may have forgotten about the Game 2 classic that you can rewatch Thursday night on NESN at 6 p.m. ET.
1. No offense
Things did not look good early in the 2013 ALCS for the Red Sox. Sanchez, as mentioned above, tossed a Game 1 gem, and things were going to get even more difficult in Game 2 with eventual AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer on the mound. The flame-throwing right-hander was simply phenomenal, allowing one run over seven innings, striking out 13. The Sox went 14 straight scoreless innings to begin the series. In fact, Scherzer carried a no-hitter into the sixth before Shane Victorino singled to right.
2. Bad to worse
When we say things looked bad for Boston, we mean really bad. Clay Buchholz pitched fairly well for five innings, but he ran into a whole bunch of trouble in the sixth. He was tagged for four runs in the sixth, including home runs from Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila that, honestly, put not only the game but the entire series in doubt for Boston. It was the rare disaster for Buchholz in 2013 after going 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 16 starts.
3. Too good to be true
The Red Sox had to breathe a sigh of relief as Scherzer gave way to the Detroit bullpen in the eighth inning. Facing new blood, the Sox rebounded and put together an unforgettable inning. It all culminated with Ortiz coming to the plate with the sacks packed to face Joaquin Benoit. Down four with the bases loaded, it almost seemed too perfect. The most remarkable thing is you expected Ortiz to do the otherwise unbelievable and tie the game with a grand slam — which is exactly what he did.
4. Head over Hunter
The most iconic image of Ortiz’s game-tying grand actually didn’t involve the slugger at all. Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter tried like hell to rob Ortiz at the wall, and he actually ended up running into the wall and over into the Red Sox bullpen.
“This is postseason,” Hunter told reporters after the game. “I’ll die on the field for this.”
Meanwhile, as Hunter was rag-dolling himself on the outfield fence, Boston police officer Steve Horgan — situated in the bullpen — quickly went viral for his emotional response to the play, as he celebrated with his hands in the air before quickly realizing he probably should help Hunter.
The pose was even immortalized with a bobblehead doll the next season.
5. And oh, yeah, Salty
We wouldn’t blame you if you forgot how this game ended. Ortiz’s heroics are what everyone remembers from this one, but his grand slam only tied the game. Koji Uehara worked a perfect ninth inning to keep things tied, setting the stage for a walk-off win in the bottom half of the frame. How they got there, though, was typical 2013 Red Sox.
Jonny Gomes opened the frame with an infield single and got to second on a throwing error. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was given a second chance with a little help from the Fenway Faithful when Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder dropped a popup near the stands while trying to deal with a whole bunch of Sox fans. With the infield in, and future Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello on the mound for Detroit, Saltalamacchia played the role of hero, lining a base hit through the drawn-in infield to give the Red Sox a pivotal, dramatic and series-tying Game 2 win.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images