For the Red Sox, the most likely path to victory in Game 2 had to be a pitchers' duel. A game where John Lackey and David Price traded zeroes with the Red Sox being the ones who managed to piece together one run more than the Rays with stolen bases, bunts, and other small ball strategies.
The idea of scoring seven off of Tampa Bay's top lefty? The man who pitched a complete game against the Red Sox on just 97 pitches back in July? Even the most optimistic of Sox fans would call that hopeful at best.
And yet, that's exactly what they did. Seven runs. Two of those came in the first. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a bloop single, stole second, moving to third on the errant throw down, then scored on Dustin Pedroia's sacrifice fly. And David Ortiz? He took Price into the bullpen, politely leaving no room for Wil Myers to make a mistake.
It wasn't all laughs and 2-0 leads, sadly. John Lackey definitely showed the signs of his 10-day layoff. While his stuff was still there--there were a few 12-6 curveballs earning ugly swings, and the cutter was baffling at times--his command just wasn't what we've grown accustomed to his year, with the ball at times flying anywhere but where catcher David Ross was set up. The Rays would tag Lackey back for a run in the top of the second, and never truly went away, constantly keeping pressure on the Red Sox and their pitching staff (at least until Koji Uehara entered the game).
But the Sox offense always kept one step ahead. In the third inning it was a wall ball double from David Ross and flare over third base from Jacoby Ellsbury (one of the weakest doubles you'll ever see, but it counts just the same) that led to two more runs against Price. In the fourth, a horribly botched double play by Evan Longoria (a bobble) and Ben Zobrist (a very high throw that ended up bouncing off the roof of the dugout) and a Stephen Drew triple off the Monster that put the Sox up 5-1. They responded to a 2-run rally from the Rays with a more solid hit from Jacoby Ellsbury and double from Dustin Pedroia to score a sixth, and then finally David Ortiz' second bomb of the night off of Price put the seventh run on the board in the eighth.
The Red Sox scored in five-of-eight innings, only letting off the gas in the sixth and seventh, and having some bad luck in the second. And Lackey, if imperfect, managed to stay alive, as did Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa thanks to huge double plays in the seventh and eighth.
That left Koji. Much has been said about just how superlative Koji has been this season, but he may have actually found another gear for the postseason. Facing Matt Joyce, Jose Lobaton, and Wil Myers, Koji started the inning with two straight three-pitch strikeouts, and then came within one strike of an immaculate inning before Myers managed to foul off a couple of pitches and ground out. Frankly, he should probably feel pretty good about it the way Koji looked on the mound. He needed to keep the Rays from scoring three times to hold the 7-4 lead, but getting so much as a baserunner seemed an impossible task.
The Red Sox are up 2-0 in the best-of-five ALDS, and have Clay Buchholz on the mound Monday in Tampa Bay.
Read more Red Sox:
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- 2013 Red Sox MVP debate
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