Red Sox slugger Ortiz joins exclusive club with tying slam
When David Ortiz's shot cleared a leaping Torii Hunter and landed in the Fenway Park bullpen late Sunday night, it tied Game 2 of the American League Championship Series and secured the Red Sox slugger's membership in an exclusive group.
Ortiz's dramatic eighth-inning grand slam off the Tigers' Joaquin Benoit was the first game-tying slam to come that late in a game in postseason history. And Ortiz, whose club took a 6-5 walk-off victory in the ninth, became only the third player in history to tie a playoff game with a bases-loaded blast in any inning.
Coincidentally, the last such event also took place in Boston. But on that occasion, it wasn't such a popular achievement with the Fenway faithful.
On Oct. 8, 2004, the Red Sox held a 2-0 lead over the Angels in the AL Division Series and a 6-2 advantage in Game 3. But in the seventh, the Angels pushed across a run and had the bases loaded when that year's AL MVP, Vladimir Guerrero, cranked a hanging slider from Mike Timlin into the Red Sox bullpen in right-center.
"When you are down and you hit a grand slam like that, the momentum changed and we thought we had a good chance to win the game," Guerrero said afterward, through an interpreter.
But it wasn't meant to be, because none other than Ortiz stole the momentum right back, ending the game and series. Batting with one on and two out in the 10th, he sent left-hander Jarrod Washburn's first pitch sailing over the Green Monster for a walk-off two-run homer. The Red Sox were on their way to a long-awaited World Series title.
The postseason's first game-tying grand slam came back in 1977. On Oct. 4, the Dodgers opened the National League Championship Series against the Phillies in Los Angeles and fell into a 5-1 hole going into the bottom of the seventh. Pitching for Philadelphia was Hall of Fame lefty Steve Carlton, who took home that year's NL Cy Young Award.
But in the seventh, two walks and a single packed the bases with one out for Ron Cey. The All-Star third baseman, coming off a career-high 30-homer season, worked the count to 3-2 before smacking the game-tying shot.
But like Guerrero's slam, this one also was in vain. In the top of the ninth, the Phillies scored twice, and this time, the Dodgers couldn't rally.
On Sunday night, it was a different story.
The Red Sox were in deep trouble, facing a 1-0 series deficit and a 5-1 Game 2 hole when they came to bat in the eighth. Their offense had been anemic in the series. But Will Middlebrooks doubled with one out, and Jacoby Ellsbury walked. One out later, Dustin Pedroia singled to load the bases.
Benoit came in from the bullpen, and Ortiz jumped on his first pitch, launching it over the wall and breathing new life into the Red Sox's hopes.
"I knew I put a good swing on it," Ortiz said afterward on FOX. "I got my boy Torii chasing everything out there, nine-time Gold Glove [Award winner], you never know, he almost caught that ball. But thank God it went in the bullpen."
One inning later, Jarrod Saltalamacchia provided the walk-off RBI single, and the series was even.