BOSTON -- The 2018 Boston Red Sox are a zombie. Just when you think they're finally down for good, they come back to life and create all sorts of chaos. It has been their M.O. all postseason and that was never more evident than it was in Game 2 of the World Series on Wednesday night. .
As has been the case pretty much all postseason, the Red Sox scored their four runs in Game 2 with two outs. Xander Bogaerts smashed a double off the Green Monster in the second inning, and Ian Kinsler brought him home with a two-out single to left to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. Kinsler hasn't had a great postseason overall, but he did come through in that second inning.
Boston's two-out excellence shined in the fifth inning, when they scored three runs to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead. Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu started the inning with two quick outs on three pitches, which brought No. 9 hitter Christian Vazquez to the plate. Easy 1-2-3 inning, right? Wrong. Look what happened after those two quick outs:
- Christian Vazquez: Single to right in a 1-2 count.
- Mookie Betts: Single to center in an 0-1 count.
- Andrew Benintendi: Eight-pitch walk.
- Dodgers bring in right-hander Ryan Madson to relieve Ryu
- Steve Pearce: Five-pitch walk to force in the tying run.
- J.D. Martinez: Two-run single to right in a 1-0 count.
- Xander Bogaerts: Five-pitch strikeout.
"The guy that got it started was Vazquez. He fought and poked one to right," Kinsler said following Game 2 ."That kinda sums up this ballclub right there. He fought for every inch and he was able to fire one into right field to get things started ... Benintendi had a huge at-bat, Pearce had a huge at-bat, and then obviously with J.D. with the knockout punch."
Five consecutive batters reached base with two outs in that fifth inning, starting with the No. 9 hitter. The first two of those five straight baserunners reached when they were behind in the count. The buzzword this postseason has been relentless. The Red Sox are relentless. Two outs and the bases empty? The Red Sox have you right where they want you.
"We just never give up, man. There's a never give up attitude regardless of who scores first, who scores second, how many runs we're down, how many outs there are, whatever the case may be," Kinsler added. "We understand the game's not over until the 27 outs are gotten on one side or the other. I think that's universal understanding here."
The Red Sox scored all four runs Wednesday night with two outs. They've scored 36 of their 68 postseason runs with two outs, or 52.9 percent, which is among the highest rates in postseason history. Nine of their 12 World Series runs have been scored with two outs. The team's numbers with runners in scoring position and two outs this postseason are obscene:
- 17-for-40 (.425 average)
- .564 on-base percentage
- .756 slugging percentage
- 11 walks and 7 strikeouts
"Putting the ball in play in those situations is very important," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "I said it a few days ago and I'll say it again: We live in an era that .210 with 30 home runs and 70 RBI is acceptable, it's a good season, and we don't believe that. There's certain situations that a strikeout is not just an out. And we put them in play, and they did again tonight, and that's why we won the game."
That .425 average with two outs and runners in scoring position would be the highest mark in postseason history should it hold. The current record belongs to the 1910 Philadelphia A's, who hit .394 with two outs and runners in scoring position in their World Series win over Cubs. Those A's only had to play five games. The Red Sox are 11 games into their postseason run with at least two more games to play.
Hitting well with two outs and runners in scoring position is not really a skill. Being a really good hitter is a skill, and the Red Sox have many really good hitters, really good hitters with that never give up attitude Kinsler spoke about. The Red Sox were a really good hitting team with two outs and the best hitting team with runners in scoring position during the regular season. In the postseason, they've raised their game to a truly historic level and are now two wins away from a World Series title.
"If you get out with one out and a guy in scoring position, or you fail to move a runner, or whatever it may be, and one of your teammates picks you up, you feel obligated to do it the next night," said Kinsler. "That's how we feel in here, constantly trying to pick the guy up in front of us and make things happen for the guy behind us, regardless of how many outs."