Road to the World Series: Oct. 14, 2013
Red Sox bust out to even score with Tigers; NLCS scene shifts to Dodgerland
This is baseball's postseason for you: As soon as you think it's figured out, the moment it appears as though the script is headed in a certain direction, something big, something truly grand happens.
For the first 16 innings of the American League Championship Series, the team that scored more runs than any other club in the Majors during the regular season had been shut down, held to one measly tick on the scoreboard.
One swing later, that all changed. One inning later, the series had changed, and so had the October script.
With the Road to the World Series taking a couple of surprising twists Sunday night, the Red Sox pulled out a victory that simply saved their season, sending the ALCS back to Detroit a split, rather than leaving home swept in their own ballpark and hoping for a miracle on the road.
Big Papi wasn't going to let that happen, and in the end a Red Sox catcher brought out a bit of nostalgia, sending the Red Sox walking off with a postseason victory.
The script really was that simple, in the end. David Ortiz popped an eighth-inning grand slam, the latest ever to tie a game in the postseason, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia pushed Boston to a 6-5 comeback victory over the Tigers in Game 2 of the ALCS with the first walk-off hit by a Red Sox catcher in postseason play since Carlton Fisk's famous homer to finish Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
This team never gives up and we showed that tonight ... big win for us but still a long way to go we are playing a great team over there- David Ortiz (@davidortiz) October 14, 2013
"I tell you what, man, postseason is something that it can work both ways for you," Ortiz said. "It can go well if you stay calm. Or it can go bad if you try to overdo things."
Oh, the Red Sox managed to overdo things just fine with their come-from-behind victory Sunday night, just the 14th comeback from a five-run deficit in a postseason game.
And to think, only a matter of minutes earlier, it was looking like the Red Sox might be shut out for a second game in a row at home. As it turned out, the ALCS is a brand new ballgame, although it remains a series the Tigers managed to flip to their advantage with the next three contests on their home field, Comerica Park.
After Game 1's amazing display of mound dominance, this time it was Max Scherzer keeping the Sox from sniffing a run, or even a hit, deep into the game Sunday night, striking out 13 in seven innings while allowing just one sixth-inning run on two hits.
But then, once Scherzer's night was through, Big Papi stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth, delivering a liner so scorched that right fielder Torii Hunter's effort to catch up with it sent him hurtling head over heels into the bullpen in right-center field, to no avail.
GIF: The insanity of Papi's slam, from contact to Hunter's wall-flip. http://t.co/g5uY2qy16S- Cut4 (@Cut4) October 14, 2013
After a four-run lead was wiped out with one swat of Ortiz's bat, Red Sox catcher David Ross described the scene in the Red Sox dugout: "Just pandemonium. People going crazy. High-fiving. People screaming."
It wasn't much longer before that scene spilled out onto the field, but it took a little bit of good fortune and home cooking before Saltalamacchia could deliver his walk-off hit in the ninth.
Two pitches before his hit to win it, Saltalamacchia sent a high pop toward the stands, where Prince Fielder approached it and reached just enough out of the playing field to have a few fans get their hands involved in the play, the ball dropping to the ground in the seating area.
"I felt them on me," Fielder said of the fans, "but, you know, it was a tough play. … There was people around. There was definitely people around."
Said Saltalamacchia: "That was a big turning point, I think."
Two pitches later, the series had seen a huge turning point, with the Red Sox rallying to tie the ALCS as the clubs head to Motown.
And another October legend was born, this one a story of patience in the face of unrelenting pitching prowess, one grand swing and one walk-off single.
So, it's on to Detroit, the ALCS knotted up at a game apiece, the players and fans of Motown seeking a return trip to the World Series with only a team that suddenly sprung to life Sunday night in their way.
* * *
Come Monday night, the National League Championship Series shifts to Chavez Ravine, where the Dodgers hope their home crowd can will them to a comeback that needs to happen one game at a time.
With the Cardinals having claimed the first two games of the NLCS in St. Louis, the Dodgers need to get to work -- and fast.
As the Road to the World Series continues to wind through the LCS round, the Dodgers have to face a postseason veteran in the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright, fresh off his completely dominant Game 5 performance in the Division Series against the Pirates.
The Dodgers will have first-year standout Hyun-Jin Ryu on the mound, but they know they'll have to crack the Cardinals' pitching staff if they're going to have a chance to keep the series going.
"To me, I look at it that we're a couple of hits away from being up 2-0," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We get a key hit in both of those games and we're up 2-0 here. We've basically got to win one game."
As for the Cardinals, it really does come down to one game at a time, and Game 3 is the next opportunity to make something happen.
Wainwright took it upon himself to complete the job in the NLDS finale against the Pirates, and the veteran right-hander sounds like he's prepared to do the same thing to give his club what would be a commanding lead in the series.
This time, he'll have to do it in a hostile environment, after riding the red sea of Cardinals fans to the clinching victory last Wednesday. But Wainwright looks forward to the challenge of what figures to be a rocking Dodger Stadium crowd.
"I don't know how many people are here, but it's a lot of fans, bigger than most stadiums, I think, and very loud," Wainwright said. "I love that, though. I mean, the louder the better. That plays right into my hands."
For the Dodgers, a key question is whether shortstop Hanley Ramirez will be ready after taking a shot to the ribs in St. Louis. As of Sunday, his status remained up in the air.
Thank you for the well wishes, praying for good news today, hoping to be ready for mañana ???? #DodgerBlue- Hanley Ramirez (@HanleyRamirez) October 13, 2013
Monday's League Championship Series game
Cardinals (Wainwright) at Dodgers (Ryu), 8 p.m. ET (TBS) Preview >
2013 MLB POSTSEASON MATCHUPS
Division Series: Red Sox beat Rays, 3-1 | Tigers beat A's, 3-2
Championship Series: Tigers at Red Sox, series tied 1-1
Division Series: Cardinals beat Pirates, 3-2 | Dodgers beat Braves, 3-1
Championship Series: Dodgers at Cardinals, St. Louis leads, 2-0
2013 postseason schedule
NL Division Series
Game 1: Cardinals 9, Pirates 1
Game 2: Pirates 7, Cardinals 1
Game 3: Pirates 5, Cardinals 3
Game 4: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1
Game 5: Cardinals 6, Pirates 1, Cardinals win series, 3-2
Game 1: Dodgers 6, Braves 1
Game 2: Braves 4, Dodgers 3
Game 3: Dodgers 13, Braves 6
Game 4: Dodgers 4, Braves 3, Dodgers win series, 3-1
AL Division Series
Game 1: Red Sox 12, Rays 2
Game 2: Red Sox 7, Rays 4
Game 3: Rays 5, Red Sox 4
Game 4: Red Sox 3, Rays 1, Red Sox win series, 3-1
Game 1: Tigers 3, A's 2
Game 2: A's 1, Tigers 0
Game 3: A's 6, Tigers 3
Game 4: Tigers 8, A's 6
Game 5: Tigers 3, A's 0, Tigers win series, 3-2
NL Championship Series (All games on TBS)
Game 1: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (13 innings)
Game 2: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0
Game 3: Cardinals at Dodgers, Monday, 8 p.m. ET
Game 4: Cardinals at Dodgers, Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET
*Game 5: Cardinals at Dodgers, Wednesday, 4 p.m. ET
*Game 6: Dodgers at Cardinals, Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET
*Game 7: Dodgers at Cardinals, Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET
* - if necessary
AL Championship Series (All games on FOX)
Game 1: Tigers 1, Red Sox 0
Game 2: Red Sox 6, Tigers 5
Game 3: Red Sox at Tigers, Tuesday, 4 p.m. ET
Game 4: Red Sox at Tigers, Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET
Game 5: Red Sox at Tigers, Thursday, 8 p.m. ET
*Game 6: Tigers at Red Sox, Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET^
*Game 7: Tigers at Red Sox, Sunday, 8 p.m. ET
* - if necessary
^ - game time subject to change
World Series begins: Oct. 23
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.