In a matchup of first-place clubs at Fenway Park as the 2013 season began its final month, the American League East Division-leading Red Sox were having a hard time scoring runs against the AL Central-best Detroit Tigers.
On September 2, Labor Day, Doug Fister threw seven scoreless innings, and the Tigers shut out the Red Sox, 3-0. A day later, Boston won but barely, 2-1, as Jon Lester outdueled Max Scherzer, and Koji Uehara closed it with his 22nd consecutive scoreless appearance.1
The Red Sox had won eight of their last 10 to build a 5½-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston’s biggest lead since July 5. Detroit—which had won the AL pennant in 2012 but lost the World Series to the San Francisco Giants—had been winning at a .717 clip since July 2, giving the Tigers a 7½-game advantage over the Cleveland Indians.
Pitching had dominated the first two games of the series. It was a different story for Wednesday evening’s series finale, though the game was close through the first five frames.
Neither team scored in the first inning, the only hit a single by Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder. The Tigers were down in order in the second. The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead on a two-out home run to right by shortstop Stephen Drew, over the Pesky Pole but fair. Already Boston had equaled its scoring for the first two games of the series combined.
The Tigers responded in the third with a three-run rally. After a one-out bunt single by José Iglesias, Austin Jackson singled to right, Iglesias going to third. A groundout produced the first run and a two-run homer to right by Fielder—similar to Drew’s—produced two more for a 3-2 Detroit lead.
That lead lasted only two batters into the bottom of the third inning. Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury tied it with a solo homer into the first row of seats in the right-field corner.
In the fourth, a single, double, and base on balls loaded the bases for Detroit, and the Tigers took a 4-3 lead when Iglesias picked up an RBI on an infield force out.
David Ortiz was the first Red Sox batter in the bottom of the fourth. He homered well over the bullpens in right field and the score was tied, 4-4.
Through four innings, the Red Sox and Tigers had combined for eight runs. Sixteen more runs crossed Fenway’s plate that night—all by Boston.
After Dempster’s scoreless top of the fifth broke a streak of five consecutive half-innings with runs, the Red Sox went ahead in their half of the inning. A one-out single to left put Shane Victorino on first base. He stole second and took third when catcher Alex Avila’s throw bounced in the dirt and went into center.2 Victorino came home with what proved to be the winning run on Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice fly to left field, capping a seven-plus-minute at-bat.
In the sixth inning, the Red Sox pulled away. Dempster struck out all three batters he faced in the top of the inning. The first Boston batter was Daniel Nava, who walked on seven pitches. Mike Napoli swung at the first pitch and hit a double high off the left-field wall. After Drew was walked intentionally, Mike Carp, pinch-hitting for catcher David Ross, walked on five pitches, forcing in Nava.
Porcello was finished after 102 pitches, and Al Albuquerque relieved him. Will Middlebrooks took a ball, then hit a grand slam over the Green Monster in left and onto the street beyond. Middlebrooks said after the game that he was looking for an inside fastball on the 1-and-0 pitch because, even though there was a new pitcher on the mound, that’s what the Tigers had gotten him out on before.3 Boston’s lead was 10-4.
One out later, Victorino was hit by a pitch and had to leave the game; Quintin Berry pinch-ran. Pedroia struck out, but Ortiz doubled off the base of the wall in center field, driving in Berry. The scoreboard let fans know that Ortiz had just made his 2,000th career base hit. A standing ovation lasted more than a minute, as Ortiz tipped his cap several times to the fans.
Nava capped the nine-run inning with a two-run homer off the back wall of the Red Sox bullpen in right-center, and it was 13-4.
During the seventh, both teams made a number of defensive changes. Brandon Workman relieved Dempster. After a leadoff single, he retired the next three Tigers.
Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman had gotten the final out of the bottom of the sixth. He returned for the seventh, and the Red Sox poured on another big inning. Drew swung at the first pitch and doubled to center.
Ryan Lavarnway, in his first at-bat of the game, hit the ball hard to left-center. Just inside the foul pole, it went over the Green Monster—but just barely. With the hit initially treated as a double and Lavarnway holding at second, John Farrell appealed. Umpire Jeff Kellogg needed to do a video review to see if it had cleared the wall. It had, just barely, striking just above the red line and bouncing back on to the field. Boston’s lead was 15-4.
Middlebrooks then doubled to center. Ellsbury flied out, and Middlebrooks tagged and took third. Berry singled to right, driving in Middlebrooks. One out later, Ortiz homered over the Red Sox bullpen in right-center, making it a five-run inning. It was Ortiz’s second home run of the game, 26th of the season, and 427th of his career. Evan Reed relieved Bonderman and got the third out.
Franklin Morales threw the top of the eighth for Boston and retired all three batters. First up for the Red Sox was Mike Napoli, who homered to right field, just over the Boston bullpen, the eighth home run of the game for the home team. They had come against a Tigers pitching staff that allowed only 128 home runs all season in 2013—by far the fewest in the AL.4
An out, a couple of singles, and another out followed, and then a single by Quintin Berry to left for his second run batted in of the game. That made the score 20-4. Second baseman John McDonald, who had come into the game to replace Pedroia after the sixth, struck out for the final out.5
Rubby de la Rosa replaced Morales and faced four Detroit batters in the bottom of the ninth. One of them singled, but that was all for the Tigers.
Dempster was credited with what turned out to be the 132nd and final win of his 16-season major-league career.6 He was appreciative of the run support he’d had. “One through nine, we’ve got a guy who can hit the ball over the wall. That’s something not a lot of teams have.”7
Porcello took the loss, dropping his season record to 11-8.8 Jim Leyland’s comment, after this—the seventh game the Tigers and Red Sox had played against each other: “We won four of seven.”9 Come the 2013 American League Championship Series, a month later, the Tigers and Red Sox squared off in a best-of-seven series. The Red Sox prevailed, four games to two.
The eight Red Sox home runs in this game tied a club record, set on July 4, 1977, in a 9-6 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. In that game, every Red Sox run scored on a homer and every one of the nine runs scored came on a solo home run except the first two.10 The Boston Globe reported that seven different players homering in one game set another Red Sox record.11
This article was fact-checked by Mark Richard and copy-edited by Len Levin.
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, and a video of the game at YouTube.com.
1 Uehara at this point had retired 21 consecutive batters.
2 John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press noted that it was the 23rd successful stolen-base attempt against Tigers pitchers and catchers. John Lowe, “Socked,” Detroit Free Press, September 5, 2013: C1.
3 Julian Benbow, “Sox Blast 8 HRs, Rout Tigers,” Boston Globe, September 5, 2103: C1.
4 Benbow. The second fewest home runs allowed were the 147 allowed by the Cleveland pitching staff.
5 Many who are familiar with the 2013 Red Sox might not remember McDonald. He appeared in only six games and was 2-for-8 without a run batted in. He did, however, have a successful 16-year career in the major leagues, primarily playing for Toronto and Cleveland. In 2013 McDonald played for four big-league clubs, and three of them—Boston, Cleveland, and the Pittsburgh Pirates—reached the postseason.
6 Dempster retired after the season with a 132-133 lifetime record.
8 After the 2014 season, Porcello was traded to Boston in a four-player deal. In 2016 he won the American League Cy Young Award for the Red Sox with a record of 22-4. He was a key contributor to the 2018 World Series championship Red Sox team as well, with a 17-7 regular-season record and a victory in the clinching Game Four of the Division Series against the New York Yankees.
10 The Red Sox have hit seven home runs in one game four times—and, unsurprisingly, they won every one of them. Two were home games: June 8, 1950, against the St. Louis Browns and July 23, 2002 (first game of two), against Tampa Bay. Two were road games: July 24, 1999, in Detroit and July 4, 2003, at Yankee Stadium. The number of home runs allowed by Tigers pitching was also a team record, according to Lowe in the Detroit Free Press.
11 Christopher L. Gasper, “The Fallout? This Team Won’t Fall Off,” Boston Globe, September 5, 2013: C1.