Hawaiian Punch: BoSox clinch ALCS on Victorino slam
Boston, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - Shane Victorino is no stranger to dramatic postseason home runs.
On Saturday night, the outfielder with the "Flyin' Hawaiian" moniker sent the Boston Red Sox on their way to the World Series.
Victorino crushed a grand slam over the Green Monster in the bottom of the seventh inning, lifting the Red Sox to a 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
Boston was down a run heading into the seventh with Cy Young front-runner Max Scherzer (0-1) still on the mound for the Tigers. However, Scherzer gave way to Detroit's perceived season-long vice, the bullpen, with two men aboard and one out in the inning.
Jonny Gomes opened the frame with a double that scraped the top of the towering left-field wall and youngster Xander Bogaerts drew a one-out walk.
Drew Smyly relieved Scherzer and induced Jacoby Ellsbury to hit a possible double-play grounder. However, ex-Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias couldn't cleanly field the roller up the middle and his error loaded the bases.
"I think we could have. It was hit pretty hard," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said when asked about the chances of turning two on the play. "But that's part of the game. I have no problem with that. Probably could have turned that, even though Ellsbury runs good."
Leyland then summoned Jose Veras from the bullpen and the right-hander threw three consecutive curveballs, the last of which Victorino blasted to left field for his second career postseason grand slam.
"The first thought was get enough air to tie the game. And then I thought this could get up over the wall," said Victorino, who hit his other grand slam five years ago off CC Sabathia in Game 2 of the NLDS while playing for the Philadelphia Phillies. He joined Jim Thome as the only two players in major league history with multiple grand slams in the playoffs.
The defending AL-champion Tigers went down quietly over the final two innings. Boston reliever Craig Breslow tossed a 1-2-3 eighth, and Koji Uehara, the ALCS MVP, finished things off in the ninth by fanning Iglesias for his third save of the series and fifth of the postseason.
Boston is headed to the Fall Classic for the third time since 2004 and will face the St. Louis Cardinals beginning Wednesday at Fenway Park. The Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series to snap an 86-year title drought.
"We're probably going to take 12 or 24 hours to let this one sink in. But watching them last night, they've got a fantastic team," Boston manager John Farrell said about the Cardinals. "And a lot of young power arms that will walk to that mound. By the time Wednesday rolls around we'll be prepared, but not right now."
Scherzer matched Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz with zeroes through the first four innings, but the home team scratched out a two-out run in the fifth. Bogaerts doubled off the Green Monster to keep the inning alive and Ellsbury plated him with a solid single to right field.
Buchholz was pulled after the first two batters reached base in the sixth. Franklin Morales made the situation even more perilous by walking Prince Fielder on four pitches to load the bases with no outs. Victor Martinez then ripped a two-run single off the wall in left, but a baserunning blunder by Fielder cost the Tigers an opportunity at more runs.
Jhonny Peralta greeted Brandon Workman with a two-hopper to Dustin Pedroia, and the second baseman tagged Martinez out before Fielder was erased in a rundown between third and home.
Workman came back out for the seventh and had Iglesias' two-out grounder deflect off his glove for an infield single and then fumbled a Torii Hunter bunt. Junichi Tazawa (1-0) was brought in to face Miguel Cabrera and shortstop Stephen Drew made a diving stop on an up-the-middle grounder and threw out the hobbled slugger to keep the score at 2-1.
The Red Sox won their 13th AL pennant ... Uehara became the first reliever to be named an LCS MVP since Mariano Rivera in 2003 ... Buchholz allowed four hits, walked two and struck out four ... Scherzer gave up four hits, walked five and fanned eight ... The Tigers starting pitchers set a new MLB record for the most strikeouts in any postseason series with 55 in the six games against Boston ... Martinez's single in the sixth gave him 17 hits in the playoffs this year. He tied Carlos Guillen (2006) for the most hits in a single postseason by a Tigers player.
10/20 02:00:32 ET