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Red Sox can't be stopped with 2 outs, RISP

Boston hitting at unprecedented clip in those situations in playoffs
October 24, 2018

BOSTON -- In the midst of what has been an epic postseason for the Red Sox, one that has them just two wins away from a World Series championship, the story is the all-out relentless approach from an offense that literally grinds the opposition into submission.That was the way the

BOSTON -- In the midst of what has been an epic postseason for the Red Sox, one that has them just two wins away from a World Series championship, the story is the all-out relentless approach from an offense that literally grinds the opposition into submission.
That was the way the Sox edged out the Dodgers, 4-2, in Game 2 on Wednesday at Fenway Park to take a 2-0 lead in the Fall Classic. And that is the way Boston (9-2 in the playoffs) has been winning for the entire month.
Two outs and runners in scoring position is supposed to be a pressure point for the offense. When the Red Sox bat in that situation, however, all the pressure has switched to the pitcher.
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How about this for a stat? With runners in scoring position and two outs this postseason, the Sox are an unprecedented 17-for-41 (.415) with three doubles, a triple, three homers and 31 RBIs. To put that in perspective, the next-highest team batting average for a postseason club with at least 30 at-bats in those situations belongs to the 1910 Philadelphia A's (.394).
To achieve numbers like that, a team needs a certain kind of mentality.
"I don't think anybody would expect those type of numbers, but this team never quits," said second baseman Ian Kinsler. "It doesn't matter how many outs there are -- one, two, none -- we're going to battle all the way up and down the lineup, and we understand that with two outs, if you can keep the inning alive, anything can happen."
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In essence, Kinsler was talking about the story of Game 2, in which Boston won a hard-fought contest by scoring all four of its runs with two outs.
It is somewhat jaw-dropping that the Red Sox have scored 36 of their 68 postseason runs with two outs.
The three-run rally in the bottom of the fifth that swung Game 2 in favor of the Sox was perfect in that it came out of nowhere, as it often does for this Boston unit.
Down 2-1, Kinsler and Jackie Bradley Jr. made two quick outs to open the frame against Los Angeles lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. It turns out the Red Sox had the Dodgers exactly where they wanted them.
No. 9 hitter Christian Vazquez jump-started the excitement with a single to right after falling behind in the count 0-2.
"Just trying to see the ball and swing at strikes," said Vazquez. "The pitch 0-2 in was close, but then he threw me a cutter backdoor and I hit it. It was a good pitch to hit and I hit a line drive the other way. I was trying to get on base and let the top of the order bring everybody home."

Though Mookie Betts hasn't matched his MVP-caliber regular season in the playoffs, he seems to have at least one big moment per game. That happened in Game 2 when he kept the rally alive by belting a single up the middle.
"It's just our approach," Betts said. "We don't give away outs. We don't give away strikes. One of those things where you have to battle. One through nine, we all battle."

And nobody battled harder than the man who had four hits in Game 1 but none in Game 2. That would be Andrew Benintendi, who fouled off three tough pitches from Ryu and ultimately drew an eight-pitch walk to load them up, which prompted L.A. manager Dave Roberts to go to his bullpen.
"Anything to just keep the line moving," Benintendi said. "He threw some good pitches, and I was able to get a couple swings off and foul them off. All that was with two outs -- that was a good inning for our team. Just kind of that next-guy-up mentality."
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Righty Ryan Madson tried to put out the fire for the Dodgers, but he walked Steve Pearce on five pitches to force in the tying run.
When J.D. Martinez -- the top RBI man in the Majors this season -- stepped up next, it was nearly inevitable what would happen. He smacked Madson's 1-0 fastball into shallow right, well in front of Yasiel Puig for a 4-2 Sox lead.

"I faced him yesterday and it was a very similar situation," Martinez said. "He was a little wild, and I went up there kind of passive. I said, 'This is the time.' I said, 'Trust your eyes. Go up there and trust your eyes, and if it's a ball, it's a ball, but don't go up there being passive.' It wasn't a bad pitch. It was a good pitch. I was just fortunate enough to stay inside of it and dump it in really."
The beauty for Martinez is the way his teammates created the chance.
"Huge," Martinez said. "That was a great example of just how you grind out an inning, grind out at-bats, everybody, you know, something we preach about. And we were talking about it ... after that inning actually [in the indoor batting cage] about how that was such a perfect example of just grinding at-bats out, finding ways to get guys on and keeping the line moving."

With runners in scoring position in these playoffs, the Red Sox are hitting .363 (33-for-91). Since 1974, that mark is the second highest for any postseason team with a minimum of 75 at-bats with runners in scoring position, trailing only the 2007 Sox (.368), who won the World Series.
It was also typical Red Sox the way they set the tone early, getting a two-out RBI single by Kinsler in the bottom of the second inning. Xander Bogaerts set Kinsler up with a double off the Green Monster in left-center.

The Sox are 9-0 in this postseason when they score first, and 83-15 overall this season. Now it's off to Los Angeles, where they plan on being every bit as relentless away from the comforts of Fenway. Boston is 5-0 this postseason on the road.
"There's the same keys on the road as there are at home -- score first, put pressure on the other team and good pitching," said Kinsler. "Whatever it takes to win. Whether it's on the road or at home, those are the things that it takes to win."
And if the Red Sox can take two out of three at Dodger Stadium, they will carry a trophy with them on that return flight to Boston.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.