Red Sox mount improbable comeback, walk off winners in Game 2 to even ALCS at 1-1

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Has the sleeping giant risen from his slumber? The Red Sox led the American League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and (of course) OPS during the regular season, but between Game 1 and the fifth inning of Game 2, they looked more like the Miami Marlins. They were no-hit through eight and two-thirds innings in Game 1 and didn’t get their first hit until the sixth inning in Game 2. It was rough to watch for Sox fans.

Behind 5-1, the Red Sox pushed across one run in the sixth inning on Dustin Pedroia’s RBI double off of the Green Monster, but down four runs, it looked like it was too little, too late, especially with the way Scherzer was pitching.

Scherzer was lifted after seven innings and 108 pitches, giving way to the same bullpen that very nearly preserved Anibal Sanchez’s no-hitter in Game 1. But the combination of Jose Veras, Drew Smyly, Al Alburquerque, and Joaquin Benoit could not halt a Red Sox comeback. David Ortiz struck the big blow against Benoit, sending a game-tying grand slam into the Red Sox bullpen in right-center with two outs.

After Koji Uehara mowed down the Tigers in the top of the ninth, Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave Rick Porcello the gargantuan task of shutting down a reinvigorated Red Sox lineup to get the Tigers into extra innings. He could not do that. Jonny Gomes led off with a ground ball deep in the hole to shortstop Jose Iglesias. Rather than pocket the ball, Iglesias fired the ball to first base, but it skipped wide of Prince Fielder into the stands, allowing Gomes to go to second base with nobody out. Porcello then uncorked a wild pitch, giving Gomes the privilege of casually strolling into third base, giving him plenty of ways to score the winning run with Jarrod Saltalamacchia at the dish. Saltalamacchia went ahead 3-1 against Porcello, then hit a 94 MPH fastball on the ground to left field. Gomes touched home as the Red Sox dugout excitedly poured onto the field in jubilation. Porcello walked off the field to a shellshocked Tiger dugout wondering how they let this one slip away.

To put this in context: Per FanGraphs, the Red Sox had a four percent chance to win when Victorino struck out against Alburquerque for the second out in the eighth inning. They were 53 percent to win after Ortiz’s grand slam. They were 81 percent when Gomes singled and advanced to second on the error, and 93 percent when Gomes reached third base on the wild pitch.

Baseball is a funny game, isn’t it?

Bryce Harper letting his haters be his motivators

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When the Phillies go on the road, and even sometimes at home, outfielder Bryce Harper is a magnet for hecklers. Fans have been chanting things like “overrated” at him. But it hasn’t really been working.

Last night, Harper was being booed and ridiculed by fans at Fenway Park according to MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato. Harper shut them up with a two-run home run in the fifth inning which gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead, the score by which they would eventually win. Manager Gabe Kapler said, “I thought it was really interesting. There were some hecklers. I don’t know if they were Red Sox [fans] or who they were, but they were on him pretty good up until that moment. That was a pretty explosive moment for the dugout celebration.”

It is not the only time Harper has been heckled only to homer shortly thereafter.

Last week, Harper was 0-for-3 in a game against the Cubs. On his way back to the dugout, a fan yelled, “$330 million, 0-for-3.” Per TMZ Sports, Harper responded, “Shut the f–k up, stupid!” He would go on to hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Two weeks ago in San Francisco, fans chanted “overrated” at Harper. He promptly hit one of his two home runs in the Phillies’ 9-6 victory.

Harper was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2009, when he was 17 years old. Tom Verducci compared him to LeBron James, a comparison that has stuck with Harper ever since. He was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2010 draft. He’s more than used to being in the spotlight and more than used to hearing a little criticism. He lets his haters be his motivators. Maybe his detractors should approach it from the opposite angle — try killing him with kindness. Yelling, “Bryce, you have great hair!” might get him to go on an 0-for-54 skid.