ALDS Red Sox Rays Baseball

Boston Red Sox's J.D. Martinez (28) is greeted at home plate by Rafael Devers, center, after Martinez hit a three-run home run during the fifth inning, as Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino, right, looks down during Game 2 of a baseball American League Division Series, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — J.D. Martinez needed to be sure.

The veteran Red Sox slugger, who had been nursing a sprained ankle since Sunday, worked through his pregame routine on the Tropicana Field turf. Batting practice, quick bursts down the first base line, a few chats with hitting coach Tim Hyers. When he finished and walked back towards the dugout, a group of reporters asked if he was going to play.

He turned, smiled, and said "probably."

Official confirmation came shortly after, and in the bottom of the fifth inning Martinez delivered a much more forceful statement.

Martinez's three-run home run broke a 5-5 tie and powered the Red Sox in an explosive offensive performance. The team collectively smashed five home runs, nine extra base hits and 20 hits overall en route to a 13-6 win in Game 2 of the ALDS.

Martinez went 4 for 5 overall with a double and the three-run homer, but he was hardly alone in leading the onslaught. Kiké Hernández enjoyed a historic offensive showing himself, going 5 for 6 to become the first Red Sox player with four extra base hits in a playoff game. Hernández had a two-run single, three doubles and a solo home run that tied the game at 5-5 in the fifth before Martinez's game-breaking blast.

Between the offensive outburst and an outstanding effort out of the bullpen by Tanner Houck, the Red Sox lifted up starter Chris Sale, who had one of the worst outings of his career.

After the Red Sox spotted him a 2-0 lead in the first, Sale melted down and allowed five runs before he'd even recorded two outs. That stretch was punctuated by a towering grand slam by Jordan Luplow to make it 5-2, and Sale was lifted for Houck after finally finishing the first.

Not long after, Xander Bogaerts and Alex Verdugo had back to back homers in the third inning to cut the deficit to 5-4, and then the game flipped in the fifth inning.

Even after Ji-Man Choi homered for the Rays to make it 8-6 in the sixth, the Red Sox never let up. Christian Vazquez had RBI singles in the seventh and ninth, Rafael Devers effectively ended the drama with a two-run homer in the eighth, and Hernández really finished the job with his two-run single in the ninth.

The Red Sox bullpen, meanwhile, was nails.

Houck was brilliant, recording 11 straight outs to stabilize a game that threatened to be getting away, and ultimately allowed just two hits and one run on the Choi homer. Ryan Brasier, Hansel Robles and Matt Barnes — who was added to the ALDS roster following an injury to Garrett Richards — finished the job from there, nailing down the comeback win and knotting the series up at 1-1.

The series now shifts back to Boston, with Game 3 scheduled for Sunday at 4:07 p.m. at Fenway Park.

Email: mcerullo@northofboston.com. Twitter: @MacCerullo.

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