Home runs are great. That’s why the Red Sox went out and got J.D. Martinez, so they could hit more of them. But solo home runs are for underachievers. Real dinger monsters crave the sacred grand slam. Last Thursday, Kyri Washington hit the first one (sorta) of the season for the Red Sox.
It got me thinking about some of the more memorable ones in Red Sox history and that led me directly to 2013. There were grand slams before that season and there were grand slams after, but that season featured some of the greatest and most clutch ones this side of J.D. Drew.
While this first one didn’t come in a win, it was certainly a critical one in the moment. After Allen Webster was tagged for four runs in the top of the first inning, Shane Victorino, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli all reached base for Johnny Gomes, who was batting in the sixth spot in the lineup on May 8, 2013. Gomes then did what he did so often that year, making a clutch play that put the Red Sox back in the game.
Then there was one off the bat off Jarrod Saltalamacchia in September that pushed the Red Sox to their 90th win of the season and also happened to finish off the New York Yankees.
Of course regular season grand slams aren’t nearly as memorable as those launched in the postseason, and the Red Sox had two such dingers that year. Both came in the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers. The first came courtesy of David Ortiz and was a turning point in the series. In game two, already trailing in the series 1-0, the Sox were up against a wall, as they faced a 5-1 deficit with two outs in the bottom of the eighth when Ortiz stepped in against Joaquin Benoit, who had just been brought in. Then this happened.
Just look at the win probability chart for that game.
Detroit’s win expectancy went from 93 percent when Ortiz stepped to the plate and plummeted to 47 percent after he circled the bases, even if the chance the Sox were going to lose that game after that home run was really closer to zero percent.
It was a day for thrilling comebacks all across New England, as the Patriots had defeated the New Orleans Saints 30-27 earlier that day on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds remaining in regulation.
Back to baseball. Later in that same ALCS, Victorino joined in on the fun with a seventh-inning grand slam in game six that effectively won the game and the series for the Red Sox.
Here’s hoping that five years later the Red Sox have a few more epic grand slams, or at least finish the season the same way that 2013 squad did.
Oh yes, we’re still on that J.D. Martinez ish. The newest Red Sox is slated to enter the lineup next week. (Jason Mastrodonato; Boston Herald)
Its going to be in the middle of the order, but where should J.D. Martinez land specifically? (Alex Speier; Boston Globe)
Speaking of Martinez, what if I told you the long wait to sign players didn’t have a negative affect on salaries after all? (Craig Edwards; FanGraphs)
Some people display baseballs, trophies or game-worn jerseys. Tyler Thornburg has the rib he had taken out out for all to see at his parents’ house. (Christopher Smith: MassLive)
The Effectively Wild podcast is seeing red today, as Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan preview the Red Sox and the Reds of Cincinnati. If you are not already a fan of this podcast, give it a listen. Its a great and detailed look at the game we all care about. (Ben Lindbergh; FanGraphs)