BOSTON — They've gone from a maddening second-place team to a juggernaut, punishment seemingly imminent as a well-earned walk gives way to a timely hit and then, of late, baseball's ultimate prize.
The Boston Red Sox, suddenly, cannot be stopped, with a tremendous run of slugging putting them two wins away from the World Series.
When Kyle Schwarber punished a fastball from Houston Astros starter Jose Urquidy for a second-inning grand slam in Game 3 on Monday night, it re-wrote the record books yet again and gave the Red Sox undeniable control of this American League Championship Series.
Their 12-3 victory, which gives them a 2-1 ALCS lead, was made largely possible by Schwarber’s no-doubter into the right field seats, Boston’s third grand slam in two games.
That’s a playoff record, as were the two grand slams – in the first two innings, no less – hit by J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers in Game 2. Another mark of domination: The Red Sox took 9-0 leads in both Game 2 and 3.
Yet while the slam-tastic fun facts will make great media guide fodder and scoreboard trivia someday, they obscure, for the moment, the punishing run the Red Sox lineup is on.
Here’s a trivia answer for you: Shane McClanahan. The Tampa Bay Rays right-hander blanked the Boston Red Sox over five innings in Game 1 of the AL Division Series, a 5-0 shutout.
Since then? It’s been duck and cover.
MLB PLAYOFF SCHEDULE:Postseason march to World Series
Boston has won five of six since while averaging 8.5 runs per game, bookended by a 14-run outburst to get back in the ALDS and Monday’s 12-run uprising, which included the Schwarber slam, two-run homers from Christian Arroyo and J.D. Martinez and a what-the-heck opposite-field shot from Rafael Devers.
Their banishing of the dreaded...