The successes of the Boston Red Sox in this year's American League Championship Series could be most importantly seen in two places — late-inning homers that either put the Red Sox ahead or tied the game, and their stellar bullpen coming through in dire situations.
Yes, the Detroit Tigers put up a valiant fight, with great pitching and occasions of good hitting, but they didn't have the same flair for the dramatic that the Red Sox did and, thus, they're headed home. That said, we'll warn any Tigers fans reading to stop here, as to not re-live any of these moments.
1. Shane Victorino's Game 6 grand slam
It wasn't the only big grand slam that helped the Red Sox get back to the World Series, but it's the one that most recently brought despair to Detroit. Victorino's seventh-inning homer on Saturday night wiped away a 2-1 Detroit Tigers lead and proved to be the final blow the Red Sox needed in their 5-2 ALCS-clinching victory.
2. David Ortiz's Game 2 grand slam
Ortiz's blast will be the more indelible highlight of the two Red Sox ALCS grand slams, thanks to Torii Hunter's meme-inspiring, over-the-fence effort. This also turned the tide of a series that, before that big swing from Big Papi, looked like it was going to be dominated by Detroit's pitching. Like Victorino's grand slam, Ortiz's eighth-inning smash made a Detroit lead disappear. In this case, he tied the game 5-5 and the Red Sox eventually won on a ninth-inning walk-off.
3. Mike Napoli's Game 3 homer
Sense a pattern here? Like we said, the Red Sox were masters of the well-timed homer in this ALCS. In Game 3, Boston claimed a 1-0 victory, its lone run coming on Napoli's seventh-inning home run off Justin Verlander, who was spectacular until that point.
4. Koji Uehara's five-out save in Game 5
Red Sox closer Uehara was named the ALCS MVP, which is totally deserved when you consider he saved three of the four Red Sox wins. Two of them were longer than the traditional three-out save too. In Game 5, he got his biggest challenge, coming in to protect a 4-3 lead with one out in the eighth inning. His five-out save paired with another big Mike Napoli homer helped the Red Sox take a 3-2 series lead.
5. Crucial strikeouts of Miggy and Prince
In Boston's 1-0 Game 3 win, the Tigers had the perfect opportunity to strike. It was 1-0 in the eighth inning. Miguel Cabrera came up with one out and runners at first and third. Uh-oh. Except Boston relief pitcher Junichi Tazawa struck out Cabrera on four pitches. Then Uehara came in and struck out Prince Fielder for the third out. One of those two at-bats could have flipped that game around. Instead, this was a small glimpse of the Tigers series-wide struggles. The Red Sox executed when it mattered most. The Tigers didn't.
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