ALCS sets record with 26th homer
Aybar's drive puts Red Sox-Rays past Astros-Cards of '04
ST. PETERSBURG -- Not only will the American League Championship Series clash between the Rays and Red Sox go down as a classic, it's going into the record books. With Dustin Pedroia's first-inning home run and Willy Aybar's seventh-inning shot on Sunday night in Game 7, the two clubs set a new standard for home runs in a postseason series with 26.
The Rays' 15 homers were already an LCS record for one club, and Aybar added to that total when he worked the count full on Red Sox starter Jon Lester and pounced on a high fastball, belting it to left for his second homer of the ALCS and a 3-1 Rays lead. The long ball proved to be the final run of the series, as Tampa Bay held on to clinch the first AL pennant in franchise history.
|Most combined home runs in a postseason series|
|2008||ALCS||T.B. (16), Bos. (10)||26|
|2004||NLCS||Hou. (14), Stl. (11)||25|
|2003||ALCS||Bos. (12), NYY (8)||20|
Pedroia's solo shot, his third of the ALCS, put the Red Sox in front two batters into Game 7. The second baseman turned on an offspeed pitch from Rays starter Matt Garza and pulled it down the left-field line, clearing the outfield fence in the corner. It was the 10th home run by a Boston player in the ALCS.
Among those impressed by the power display were Rays first baseman Carlos Pena, who hit three homers during the ALCS, and reliever Dan Wheeler.
"These are Major League hitters out there, the best lineup in baseball," Pena said of the Red Sox.
"We like to make it interesting, I guess," Wheeler said. "You've got to give a lot of credit to the Red Sox -- they are a great team. We knew it wasn't going to be easy coming into this. Those last outs to get were really tough, and to go up against a team like that as much as we have, I'm just glad we were on the good side."
Aybar's homer pushed the power output in this back-and-forth set past the 25-homer mark reached in the 2004 National League Championship Series between the Astros and Cardinals. Houston hit 14 home runs in that seven-game clash, receiving four from Carlos Beltran on his way to eight for the postseason, which tied him with Barry Bonds for the Major League record by an individual player. Rays center fielder B.J. Upton needs one more homer this month to tie that record.
Most homers in first playoff appearance
Upton and Rays third baseman Evan Longoria tied for the home run lead in this series with four apiece. Pedroia's homer tied him with Pena at three.
The win set up the Rays for a World Series meeting with the Phillies, starting on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. After Sunday's win, Rays right-hander Edwin Jackson hinted that his offense wasn't done setting records.
"Be ready to watch us work, because we are coming," Jackson said. "It's only the beginning for these guys. We are just scratching the surface."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.