October 15, 2013

Tom Caron: Endgame is prime time for Red Sox and Patriots

It shouldn’t surprise us any longer, right? The Red Sox have been rallying against all odds throughout this starstruck baseball season. They won 11 regular-season games in walk-off fashion, the second highest total in team history.

Sunday night’s win was the most improbable of all. The Sox were setting postseason records by striking out 32 times in two games and appeared to be overmatched by the Tigers’ pitching.

But then David Ortiz turned Fenway Park into a mosh pit with a two-out grand slam to tie the game in the eighth inning. Then Jarrod Saltalamacchia sealed the deal with a walk-off RBI single in the ninth. So now the Sox are in Detroit with a whole lot of momentum and the series knotted at 1-1.

“You back us into a wall, you either do two things – cave or fight,” said Dustin Pedroia. “We’re gonna fight.”

We’ve come to expect nothing less from this bearded band of brothers. They’ve won 101 games since the first of April and don’t appear ready to slow down yet. After every win the song “Started From the Bottom” blares in the clubhouse. It is a musical reminder that this worst-to-first season has been one of the most improbable rides in the long history of the franchise.

It’s a ride that continues now as the leaves fall and the temperatures drop in October. At around 10 p.m. Sunday night, the first frost warning of the season was issued for much of southern New England. At that same moment, Boston’s bats were indeed cold as ice.

But a warming trend started when Shane Victorino broke up Max Scherzer’s no-hit bid with two outs in the sixth inning. Pedroia followed with an RBI double, putting the Sox on the scoreboard for the first time in the series.

It remained 5-1 until there were two outs in the eighth. That’s when Big Papi rose to the occasion, and Fenway rose as one. Saltalamacchia’s hit an inning later capped off an unbelievable sports day in Boston. Some four hours earlier, Tom Brady hit Kenbrell Thompkins for a game-winning touchdown with five seconds left.

Call it the Boston Two-Step. A walk-off here and a walk-off there. And now the pressure is firmly on the shoulders of the Tigers, with momentum riding high in the visitors’ clubhouse at Comerica Park.

Of course, nothing kills momentum like stout pitching, and Detroit has one of the game’s best on the mound for Game 3. Justin Verlander is the undisputed ace of the Tigers staff, and he won’t be rattled by anything that happened at Fenway Park this weekend.

It’ll be the first afternoon start of the series – meaning the game should end in prime time. And that’s a good thing, because we know this Red Sox team doesn’t hit its prime until the end of the game.

Tom Caron is the studio host for the Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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