The Red Sox evened up their ALDS series with the Tampa Bay Rays Friday night with a 14-6 win at Tropicana Field. With the win, the best-of-five series is now tied at one game a piece as the action shifts to Boston.
Despite an early hole, the Red Sox’s offense never slowed down. They totalled 20 hits – a mark they hadn’t reached in two-and-a-half years, and set a new franchise postseason record with five home runs in the game. In total, Boston scored in six of the nine innings in the game.
After lacking much offensive production in Game 1, the bats got going quickly for the Sox in Game 2. After a Kyle Schwarber walk and Kiké Hernandez double to start the inning, Boston got back-to-back RBI singles from Xander Bogaerts and Alex Verdugo.
J.D. Martinez then singled to load the bases, Hunter Renfore ended the threat by grounding into a double play. Still, the Red Sox had a 2-0 lead after the top of the first.
That lead wouldn’t last long though. Like the Red Sox, the Rays got consecutive singles to start the inning. Following a walk to Nelson Cruz, Chris Sale gave up an RBI single to Yandy Diaz. The inning then went from bad to worse, as Jordan Luplow turned a two-strike fastball into a 387-foot grand slam. After one, the Rays led 5-2 and Sale was replaced by Tanner Houck.
Neither team scored in the second inning, but Bogaerts stepped up for the Red Sox in the third. His solo home run was his second RBI of the night, cut the Rays’ lead to 5-3, and knocked Tampa starter Shane Baz out of the game.
Collin McHugh, who replaced Baz, didn’t fare much better. Verdugo took him deep to right field, picking up his second RBI of the night and getting the Sox deficit to just one.
The Red Sox would get to McHugh again in the fifth. Leading off the inning, Hernandez drove a line drive over the left field fence, tying the game at five.
They weren’t done either. McHugh would allow one more walk before being replaced by Matt Wisler. After a base hit from Bogarts, Wisler allowed a three-run home run to dead center field off the bat of J.D. Martinez – who was playing for the first time since injuring his ankle in the regular-season finale. By the time the top of the fifth was over, the Red Sox led 8-5.
Meanwhile, Houck was dealing. He retired 11 straight after entering the game, and just one hit before the sixth inning. Ji-Man Choi would take him deep for a solo shot in the sixth, but it was still ultimately a dominant night for the 25-year-old. Houck threw five innings, allowing just two hits and one run while striking out five. That performance ultimately ended up keepin the Red Sox in the game.
As luck would have it, they even ended up getting that run right back in the top of the seventh. Christian Vazquez drove in Verdugo, and made it a 9-6 game with Ryan Brasier coming in to pitch.
However, the Red Sox weren’t done adding insurance. Rafael Devers added a two-run home run in the top of the eighth, setting a new franchise record for most home runs in a postseason game with five. That blast stretched the lead to 11-6 with Hansel Robles coming into the game.
Robles faced just four batters in the eighth, without allowing a run. When the Red Sox came up in the top of the ninth they picked up right where they left off. They added three more runs, highlighted by a two-RBI double from Hernandez.
Houck ended up earning the win, the first of his career in the playoffs. Collin McHugh was tabbed with the loss.
Hernandez was the Red Sox’s top hitter. He finished 5-for-6 with three doubles, a home run, and three RBIs and three runs scored. Martinez added four hits and three more RBIs, while Bogaerts and Verdugo each had three hits and two RBIs each. Matt Barnes got the bottom of the ninth, and despite loading the bases did not allow a run.
Tomorrow is an off day as the series shifts to Boston. Game 3 will take place Sunday afternoon at 4:07 p.m. at Fenway Park.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.