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Anatomy of an unlikely game-winning run

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  October 14, 2013 03:53 PM

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DETROIT Good afternoon from Comerica Park. The Tigers are working out on the field now and the Red Sox will take the field in an hour.

The Sox slept in their own beds after last night's 6-5 victory. The team flew here late this morning. This city, like Boston, is abuzz about Game 2.

"Slammed" said the headline on the front of the Detroit Free Press.

David Ortiz is the talk of baseball today thanks to his grand slam in the eighth inning. But have you stopped to consider the run that actually won the game?

Talk about a series of unusual events:

Jonny Gomes broke his bat on a Rick Porcello fastball and reached on an infield single.

Jose Iglesias, a defensive wizard, made an ill-advised throw to first base that handcuffed Prince Fielder and got by him for an error. The ball went out of play and Gomes was awarded second base.

Fielder clearly should have stopped the ball. The entire scope of the inning changes with Gomes on second.

(As a side note, Gomes is so well-regarded for his base running that the Sox did not run Quintin Berry for him.)

Jarrod Saltalamacchia nearly fouled out to Fielder along the first base stands, but Fielder could not pull the ball out of the crowd. The Tigers briefly protested, believing fan interference should have been called. Jim Leyland came out of the dugout to argue, but the umpires stuck with the call.

"I was tagging up and going to third if he caught that ball," Gomes said. "No question about it."

A wild pitch then pushed Gomes to third base. Now Saltalamacchia was ahead, 3-and-1, in the at-bat and everything had changed.

"At first, man on second, I was trying to get him over," said Saltalamacchia. "After he threw that first pitch down and away, I figured that's how they were going to pitch me. I tried bunting earlier in the year against them and it didn't work out so well. I figured I'd go ahead and swing the bat. And I felt good.

"Once the [wild pitch] happened, the approach changed a little bit, trying to hit the ball up the middle and take your chance."

Saltalamacchia, who to that point was 3 for 14 in the postseason, didn't get the ball up the middle. But he did push it through a drawn-in Detroit infield for the game-winning single.

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