Coverage of the Red Sox’s Amazing Game 2 Comeback

As you can imagine, there are a ton of stories about last night’s epic come-from-behind win by the Sox in Game 2 of the ALCS. This is my attempt to catalogue the best ones.

Recaps

My favorite traditional recaps:

Also, I recommend Firebrand’s Andre Khatchaturian recaping his experience attending the game and meeting a certain Boston sports writer:

Since I had this prophetic intuition about how Ortiz was going to hit a grand slam, I decided that the second he hit it, I was going to go mob Mr. Ryan and celebrate with him.

The pitch came and Ortiz sent it over the fence. I jumped around like a maniac, walked up the stairs and gave Bob a big hug and yelled in his face. I wasn’t the only one. Everyone was giving him high fives and slapping him on the back and I kind of felt bad for him. Nevertheless, my voice was gone and Bob Ryan had a big smile on his face. This was already turning into one of those nights that you were never going to forget.

Big Papi and His Grand Slam

Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has a column that talks about Big Papi’s grand slam in-depth:

Part of this is legend trumping truth. The reality is that David Ortiz is a great hitter, and great hitters can do great things. He does not wear a giant S underneath his uniform. He does not magically turn into the greatest Red Sox player after Sept. 30. He has hit .083 and .095 and .154 and .235 in playoff series with Boston. He is fallible. Only people forget about those, because when a season teeters on the precipice and the only option is optimism, it beats the alternative.

“There were 24 guys in the dugout and 40,000 here that knew he was gonna hit a granny,” Red Sox left fielder Jonny Gomes said.

Knew?

“Hell yeah,” Gomes said. “Gotta think about it for it to happen. Power of the mind.”1

Kevin McNamara takes a closer look at why the Red Sox have so much faith in Big Papi:

Dustin Pedroia has seen so many of the biggest blows off David Ortiz’ bat that nothing really surprises him.

He’s seen the clutch singles, the gap-driving doubles and enough walk-off home runs to fill his memory bank forever. But the grand slam that Ortiz hit in the eighth inning of Sunday’s Game Two of the ALCS against the Tigers will certainly own a special place in his mind and heart.

“He’s done it so much,” said Pedroia. “You have confidence every time he gets up. You always want the results to be great but his approach is always great. You’re always in the best hands when he’s up.”

Evan Drellich looks at the grand slam from the Red Sox bullpen’s perspective:

“So I turned like an idiot to look up. I see the ball, and it’s coming pretty quick and I yell, ‘Mani!’ I don’t know if he heard me.”

[Red Sox bullpen catcher, Mani] Martinez must’ve heard somebody, because he snagged the thing.

“He looked up, stuck his elbow up, caught the ball,” [the Red Sox’s other bullpen catcher, Brain] Abraham said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ And then a second later, Torii — it probably wasn’t a second later, it was really fast. He smoked the wall.”

Alex Speier examines the greatness of Big Papi

It had been nine years since David Ortiz turned the 2004 postseason into an unprecedented and unforgettable assertion of October greatness, an autumn statement so dramatic that it still resonates now. Yet the idea of the Red Sox DH as an embodiment of October excellence, particularly in pivotal late-game situations, was just that — an idea or memory, rather than a recent reality.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, with the Red Sox showing their first glimpses of offensive life in a series that saw them collect a grand total of three hits through the first 16 innings, the Tigers went to closer Joaquin Benoit with two outs and the bases at maximum occupancy as Ortiz stepped to the plate as the potential tying run in a game the Sox trailed, 5-1.

The deficit did not last long. Ortiz jumped on an elevated first-pitch splitter, sending a rocket screaming towards the face of Red Sox bullpen catcher Mani Martinez. Ortiz’s former teammate, Torii Hunter, took flight from right, raced to the warning track and may have overrun the missile by inches, his attempt to reach back proving unsuccessful. The ball was just beyond Hunter’s grasp, and while it found safe haven in Martinez’s catcher’s mitt, Hunter was not so fortunate, crashing and crumpling over the bullpen fence as Fenway erupted in a celebration of the Sox’ newfound life and hope.

Speier also gets some great quotes from Will Middlebrooks about what he was thinking during the game:

“We were out there during the pitching change when it was [5-1], Pedey’s looking at us going, ‘This isn’t over.’ This is in the seventh inning. He’s saying, ‘It’s not over,’ telling us, ‘This team is too good. We’re going to get into that bullpen and we’re going to beat them.’ This is during a pitching change,” Middlebrooks recounted. “To hear him say that, I don’t know if it was a confidence builder, but it was just good to hear that. We’re getting pounded pretty good by Scherzer, but to hear Pedey say, ‘We’re going to be fine; we’re going to do this,’ it was cool.”

“We were out there during the pitching change when it was [5-1], Pedey’s looking at us going, ‘This isn’t over.’ This is in the seventh inning. He’s saying, ‘It’s not over,’ telling us, ‘This team is too good. We’re going to get into that bullpen and we’re going to beat them.’ This is during a pitching change,” Middlebrooks recounted. “To hear him say that, I don’t know if it was a confidence builder, but it was just good to hear that. We’re getting pounded pretty good by Scherzer, but to hear Pedey say, ‘We’re going to be fine; we’re going to do this,’ it was cool.”

As you would imagine, Torii Hunter was not pleased as pleased with Papi’s slam:

“It’s obvious. I’m pissed off,” Hunter said. “The one guy you don’t want to beat you, he beat us. One of the best hitters in postseason history. This guy, he hit the ball out of the park, it ties the game up, and they end up coming back and winning the game.”

Evaluating Jim Leyland’s Decisions

David Schoenfield analyzes Tigers manager Jim Leyland’s decisions during the game, including Jose Iglesias’ attempt to throw out Gomes in the 9th:

There is no argument here. Iglesias had no chance to get Gomes; you have to eat the ball there. But the worse play was Prince Fielder failing to use his large body to knock the ball down and prevent it from rolling into the dugout. Bad decision by Iglesias, but a lazy, terrible play by Fielder. Gomes goes to second on the throwing error, advances on a wild pitch and Jarrod Saltalamacchia singles past the drawn-in infield.2

Rob Neyer also commented on Leyland’s managerial moves. First, on not bringing Coke to face Big Papi:

If Leyland had any confidence at all in Coke, he might have used him against Ellsbury and saved Smyly for Ortíz. But it’s pretty clear that Leyland doesn’t have any confidence in Coke. Which does, as Hamilton astutely points out, lead one to question why Coke’s on the roster at all. And the answer is that the Tigers have to fill 25 slots, and Leyland actually likes only 24 guys on the 40-man roster. So Coke probably made it because he’s been around for a while.

and then on Leyland’s decision to remove Benoit for the ninth:

Veras threw three pitches before Leyland pulled him. Smyly threw six pitches before Leyland pulled him. Alburquerque threw eight pitches before Leyland pulled him. And now Benoit has thrown eight pitches, and Leyland pulls him. Only eight pitches, and Benoit’s out of the game, replaced by Rick Porcello.

What? Remember, Benoit was going to get the four-out save. But now he’s out of the game … why? Because it’s no longer a save situation? Because his spirit has been crushed by the grand slam? Because he’s not actually as good as Rick Porcello?

Closing it Out

The great Peter Gammons sums why a game like this can mean so much to a team:

This is not about rotisserie or sabermetrics, it’s about what baseball is supposed to be, a sport that Jeff Bagwell once defined when he said, “the greatest thing you can do in baseball is be on the bottom of the pile on the last day baseball is played in a given season.”

Over the Monster has some great GIFs of Big Papi’s grand slam and of the game winning hit and subsequent celebration

And, of course, the only way to end things: Steve Hogan the Boston police officer celebrating in the bullpen


  1. Relatedly, Jonny Gomes is the best. 

  2. Personally, I agree with Schoenfield, Fielder seemed to make little effort to stop that ball.