BOSTON — “Keep Dancing,” say the billboards and message boards in and around Fenway Park, imploring the Boston Red Sox to continue their drive to the World Series and a nominal nod to “Dancing On My Own,” a largely morose club track that’s become an unlikely clubhouse anthem.
It’s also wildly off base for Boston’s pursuit of the American League pennant. More like it is a slam.
Kyle Schwarber struck out Jose Urquidy’s fastball in the second inning of Game 3 Monday night. It rewrote the records and put the Red Sox back in control of the American League Championship Series.
Their 12-3 victory, which gives them a 2-1 ALCS lead, was made largely possible by Schwarber’s no-doubter into the right field seats, Boston’s third grand slam in two games.
That’s a playoff record, as were the two grand slams – in the first two innings, no less – hit by J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers, Game 2. A further sign of dominance: Both Game 2 (Red Sox) and 3 were won by the Red Sox, who took a 9-0 lead.
The slam-tastic trivia facts may make for great media guide fodder or scoreboard trivia one day, but they still obscure the fact that the Red Sox are on a punishing run at the moment.
Here’s a trivia answer for you: Shane McClanahan. In Game 1, the Tampa Bay Rays’ right-hander, Shane McClanahan, defeated the Boston Red Sox in five innings. It was a 5-0 win.
What has happened since then? It’s been duck and cover.
MLB PLAYOFF SCHEDULE:March to the World Series after-season
Boston has won five of six since while averaging 8.5 runs per game, bookended by a 14-run outburst to get back in the ALDS and Monday’s 12-run uprising, which included the Schwarber slam, two-run homers from Christian Arroyo and J.D. Martinez, and an what-the heck opposite-field shot by Rafael Devers.
Over the span of just two games the Astros turned from an imposing nemesis in the ALCS to a team that looked, despite having 95 wins, grossly undermatched.
With ace Lance McCullers Jr. out for this series, the Astros hoped Urquidy could provide a steadying influence – he’d started and won a crucial Game 4 in the 2019 World Series. In the second inning, however, Urquidy failed to make the right move. He loaded the bases with two runners on and was then unable get any help from Jose Altuve. Jose Altuve’s second mistake in this ALCS transformed a potentially inning-ending double play into an inning-ending Red Sox victory.
Then, Schwarber. This playoff run began with Schwarber’s key homer against Yankees. His towering strike off Urquidy might have brought down the Astros.
He scored his third homerun of the postseason. Devers has four, Martinez three, Kiké Hernandez five, along with a preposterous 18 hits in 36 postseason at-bats.
Just for the heck of it, lefty Eduardo Rodriguez spun six innings of five-hit ball, the lone run coming on Kyle Tucker’s three-run homer. Rodriguez was the only pitcher to reach the sixth inning in the AL playoffs.
Heaven help the remaining three clubs if Boston’s pitching steadies itself. They’ve already proven unstoppable when the bats are in their hands.
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