It was going to take a lot for the Red Sox to top Tuesday's playoff-quality win over Max Scherzer. And while there wasn't nearly so much tension involved Wednesday night, after tying a team record with an eight-homer demolition of the Tigers, there's no question that a statement has been made.
There were three phases to this game. The first was the brief calm before the storm, lasting all of about an inning-and-a-half. Ryan Dempster looked surprisingly good, getting some strikeouts and allowing little in the way of hard contact in his first two frames, while Rick Porcello managed a pretty decent bottom half of the first.
Then came the back-and-forth blows, which would take us through the fifth. The Red Sox struck first, with Stephen Drew taking an inside fastball and wrapping it around the Pesky pole for a two-run shot that gave Boston the first of many runs.
Ryan Dempster, however, was not content to have a good outing, quickly pushed the old self-destruct button. With one run already in, Dempster offered Prince Fielder a flat, hanging slider, which was promptly deposited deep in he right field stands for a two-run shot which left the Red Sox down by one. That deficit would be erased When Jacoby Ellsbury found the right field stands as well, rebuilt when Dempster loaded the bases and Jose Iglesias beat out a double play at first to bring a run in, and then erased again when David Ortiz nonchalantly took Porcello's third pitch of the fourth right back to right field, this time over the dugouts.
Back-and-forth the game went until the fifth, when Ryan Dempster rebounded with a clean inning, and the Red Sox managed to put together a run with Shane Victorino singling, stealing second, moving to third on the bad throw down, and then scoring on a shallow lineout to left. It was, at the time, the go-ahead run, but it certainly didn't seem like enough to decide things the way Dempster was pitching.
But, one way or another, Dempster got through the sixth without allowing another run, and that's when the game entered its third phase: complete, soul-crushing domination.
Still in the game despite having allowed five runs in the first five innings, Rick Porcello was allowed to walk Daniel Nava and give up a double to Mike Napoli that just missed being yet another homer to start the bottom of the sixth. Somehow, though, Leyland decided he still hadn't seen enough, and left Porcello in to first intentionally walk Stephen Drew to load the bases, and then unintentionally walk the pinch-hitting Mike Carp to bring in a sixth run. Perhaps, though, that was better than the alternative, given that Will Middlebrooks crushed Al Albuquerque's second pitch of the night over everything in left for a grand slam.
That was the end of the competitive game, but there was still fun to be had for the Red Sox. David Ortiz collected hit number 2,000 later in the inning with a double off the wall in center field, and the homers just kept flowing against Detroit's bullpen. Daniel Nava immediately followed David Ortiz' milestone with his eleventh homer of the year, and Ryan Lavarnway got in on the act in the seventh by just barely clearing the Monster for his first of the year. Not content with 2,000 hits, Papi made it 2,001 five batters later by clobbering his second shot of the game to just about the same place. By the time Mike Napoli made it eight bombs in eight innings, it was well past the point of being silly.
25 baserunners, 20 runs, eight homers. Entering this game the Red Sox trailed the Tigers in run differential 167 to 138. That figure now stands at 154 to 151 in favor of the Sox. Today was a good day.
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