BOSTON -- Any time you come back from a five-run deficit, it can never be attributed to one guy. Yeah, David Ortiz hit the mammoth game-tying grand slam in the eighth inning of ALCS Game 2, but guys had to get on base in front of him to make it happen. One of those guys was Dustin Pedroia.
By his usually high standard, Pedroia had a pretty typical year in 2013. His power was down but his batting average (.301), on-base percentage (.372) and OPS+ (116) were right in line with his career norms (.302, .370 and 117, respectively). He also played stellar defense and stole 17 bases. Same old, same old.
The Red Sox's first five postseason games did not go well for Pedroia, however. He went 4-for-19 (.211) with one double (.524 OPS) in those five games, including 2 for 14 (.143) in the last four games. Manager John Farrell never did give any indication he would rearrange his lineup, unsurprisingly. Five games doesn't mean one of his best players suddenly forgot how to hit.
Pedroia's unproductive postseason ended in Game 2 on Sunday night. First he robbed Austin Jackson of a base hit with a specular defensive play in the third inning, ranging far to his left to snag the hard-hit grounder before firing to first for the out. It wasn't a crucial play or anything -- there were no runners on base, etc. -- but it took a hit away from the Tigers. Who knows what could have followed.
Then, after the Tigers scored four runs to take a 5-0 lead in the top of the sixth, Pedroia got his team on the board for the first time in the series by doubling in Shane Victorino. The comeback had to start somewhere, and apparently Pedroia decided the bottom of the sixth would be the time to do it.
Two innings later, with two outs in the eighth following a Will Middebrooks double and Jacoby Ellsbury walk, Pedroia slapped a single through the right side to set up Ortiz for the game-tying grand slam. It wasn't just any single though, it was a single against slider specialist Al Alburquerque, who held right-handed batters to a .202/.346/.337 batting line with 39 strikeouts in 127 plate appearances (30.7-percent) in 2013. The Tigers had the matchup they wanted, but I suppose the Red Sox had the guy they wanted at the plate as well.
When the Red Sox are at their best, Pedroia is in the middle of everything. Offensively and defensively. He can get lost in the shuffle of his own roster at times, but Farrell bats him in the middle of the order for a reason. Pedroia showed why in Game 2, getting his team on the board in the middle innings before getting a key hit to setup the game-tying rally late. He does it all for Boston, and Sunday night was just another example.