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Red Sox Offense Erupts with 5 HRs in Game 2 to Even ALDS with Rays

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVOctober 9, 2021

AP Photo/Steve Helber

You want homers? The Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox just gave you homers. 

The Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Friday evening 14-6, evening the ALDS matchup at a game apiece. 

It was a wild contest that featured seven homers in total and a postseason-record five dingers for the Red Sox. Five different Boston batters had at least three hits amid a 20-hit outburst. 

Sarah Langs @SlangsOnSports

The Red Sox have 5 players with 3+ hits, tying the record for a single postseason game<br><br>The other instance?<br><br>ALSO the Red Sox, in 1999 ALDS Game 4

It looked like the Rays, who jumped out to an early lead in Game 1, might be off to the races yet again after Jordan Luplow's grand slam put them up 5-2 in the bottom of the first. 

MLB @MLB

JORDAN 4s.<br><br>Luplow with a 1st-inning slam! <a href="https://t.co/D02cuVGy0I">pic.twitter.com/D02cuVGy0I</a>

But Boston's own barrage of deep balls, including J.D. Martinez's three-run shot, quickly changed the math. 

MLB @MLB

Back-to-back, and the Sox are right back in it. <a href="https://t.co/vK0V5rtZ9O">pic.twitter.com/vK0V5rtZ9O</a>

MLB @MLB

The <a href="https://twitter.com/RedSox?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RedSox</a> have rallied to tie it! <a href="https://t.co/wDWENlMyqp">pic.twitter.com/wDWENlMyqp</a>

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MLB @MLB

JULIO DANIEL MARTINEZ! <a href="https://t.co/yYdh1sMoKw">pic.twitter.com/yYdh1sMoKw</a>

MLB @MLB

Raffy goes bridge and the Sox are pouring it on!<br><br>(MLB x <a href="https://twitter.com/ftx_app?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ftx_app</a>) <a href="https://t.co/IuvqYznNBx">pic.twitter.com/IuvqYznNBx</a>

This was the sort of game that makes pitchers recoil in horror. Rays fans too. But for neutral observers and Red Sox supporters, Friday's parade of home runs sure was fun. 


Key Stats

J.D. Martinez, BOS: 4-for-5, one homer, three RBI

Tanner Houck, BOS: Five innings, two hits, one run, five strikeouts

Enrique Hernandez, BOS: 5-for-6 with three runs, four RBI, one homer, three doubles

Jordan Luplow, TB: 1-for-1 with a grand slam

Shane Baz, TB: 2.1 innings, six hits, three runs, one walk, two strikeouts

Randy Arozarena, TB: 1-for-4, one run


Amid the Offensive Onslaught, Tanner Houck Came Up Huge

Chris Sale didn't have his best stuff Friday and was chased out of the game after a four-hit, five-run first inning. 

So the Red Sox turned to Houck to steady the ship, and he did just that, providing the Red Sox with five fantastic innings that calmed some stormy waters. 

Rob Friedman @PitchingNinja

Tanner Houck's Slider is Unfair. <a href="https://t.co/n4YwkrdcTm">pic.twitter.com/n4YwkrdcTm</a>

MLB Stats @MLBStats

Tanner Houck is the 5th <a href="https://twitter.com/RedSox?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RedSox</a> pitcher to retire at least 27 batters in a row within a single season (reg + postseason) since at least 1961.<br><br>h/t: <a href="https://twitter.com/EliasSports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EliasSports</a> <a href="https://t.co/SZBJYFKOFK">pic.twitter.com/SZBJYFKOFK</a>

MLB Pipeline @MLBPipeline

Tanner Houck’s slider is so nasty it made Randy Arozarena fling his bat! <a href="https://t.co/s9qw5wnMwW">pic.twitter.com/s9qw5wnMwW</a>

Before Houck and the bullpen took over, the Rays had 10 runs through 10 innings in this series. Boston's bullpen, led by Houck, just changed the ALDS. Going to Boston in an 0-2 hole would have been less than ideal.   


The Moment Was Too Big for Shane Baz. It Won't Always Be. 

You could hardly blame Baz for struggling. He's only made three career starts, after all, with his first Sept. 20 of this year. But so nasty is Baz's stuff that the Rays still trusted him with a postseason start. 

MLB Stats @MLBStats

The <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rays?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Rays</a> (Shane McClanahan and Shane Baz) are the second <a href="https://twitter.com/MLB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLB</a> team ever to have rookies start Games 1 and 2 of a postseason series (2012 Athletics: Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone). <a href="https://t.co/D62FfqkzCE">pic.twitter.com/D62FfqkzCE</a>

Baz sure appeared to have some jitters, letting five of the first six batters he faced to reach base. A double play to end the top of the first helped keep the damage to just two runs, but Xander Bogaerts' solo shot in the top of the third earned him the hook. 

Marcus Stroman @STR0

Just turning on this Rays vs. Red Sox game. Would have never guessed a high scoring game between these two starters. Sale is Sale. Baz is electric. Just shows you that sometimes in baseball…you just never know!

There's little question that the 22-year-old Baz has a bright future. He's hardly the first player in MLB history to have a rough time in his postseason debut. And in his defense, none of the pitchers who followed him had much luck with Boston's lineup either. The short-leash approach to Baz didn't work in Tampa's favor.

From a pitching perspective, not much did. 


What's Next?

The series turns to Boston for Sunday's Game 3 at 4:07 p.m. ET on the MLB Network. Nathan Eovaldi is set to take the mound for the Red Sox, while the Rays have yet to name their starter. 

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