JD Martinez wasn’t sure if he could run, but he thought his recent left ankle sprain wouldn’t give him too much trouble at the batter’s cage.
Fortunately for him, there was plenty of time for the Red Sox to scour the bases throughout the night.
Martinez broke the tie with a three-run homer on his return to the lineup, and Boston beat the Tampa Bay Rays 14-6 to tie the AL Division Series to one win apiece.
Game 3 of the 5-to-5 series will take place Sunday in Boston.
The Red Sox supported a good relief from Tanner Houck with five home runs, a franchise record in the postseason.
Puerto Rican Kiké Hernández had five of Boston’s 20 hits, including a home run and three doubles. He became Boston’s first player with four extra-base hits in a postseason game.
Xander Bogaerts, Mexico’s Alex Verdugo and Rafael Devers also homered for Boston, which rallied and ended up crushing, after ace Chris Sale received a grand slam from Jordan Luplow in the first inning.
Sale was retired after getting just three outs.
“Obviously we had to make adjustments. Tanner arrived and did a tremendous job, ”said Red Sox manager Alex Cora from Puerto Rico. “But on the offensive, our attitude was to say, ‘Hey, don’t panic.’ We scored two in the first and still had eight innings to go. They all did a great job throughout the night. “
Hernandez opened the fifth inning with a home run off Collin McHugh to tie the game, four at-bats before Martinez hit his four-corner suit off Matt Wisler (0-1).
“He’s definitely a very important piece of that lineup, and today he showed why,” Rays catcher Mike Zunino said of Martinez. “He came in after an injury, which is not easy, and he had great shifts all day. I take my hat off”.
Houck (1-0) kept Boston in the game after Sale was rocked with five touchdowns in the first inning. The rookie right-hander came from the bullpen to start the second inning and allowed one run and two hits in five innings.
He retired his first 11 opponents before allowing a single by Dominican Wander Franco with two outs in the fifth inning.
Ji-Man Choi came in as a defensive replacement for Luplow and hit the other hit Houck allowed, a solo homer with two outs in the sixth inning. Houck struck out five.
Martinez had four hits after missing Tuesday’s wild card game, a win over the New York Yankees, as well as the game that kicked off the American League Division Series, due to a sprained left ankle.
He was hurt when he tripped over second base on his way to the outfield during the final game of the regular season in Washington.
“I felt good hitting,” he said. “Not so much running, but with the bat.”
For the Red Sox, the Puerto Rican Hernández 6-5 with three runs scored and three RBIs, Christian Vázquez 5-3 with one scored and two RBIs The Dominicans Devers 4-1 with two runs scored and two RBIs, Danny Santana without an official turn but with an annotated one. The Mexican Verdugo of 5-3 with two runs scored and two produced.
For the Rays, Cuban Randy Arozarena 4-1 with a run scored, Yandy Diaz 4-1 with a run scored and an RBI. The Dominicans Franco 5-2 with one scored, Nelson Cruz 3-1 with one scored, Manuel Margot 3-0, Francisco Mejía 3-0. AP (HN)