BOSTON -- On a scale of 1 to 10, with "Oh, dear" being a 1 and "Oh, @#$!%$^" being a 10, we don't need one of those Suffolk University polls to tell us how the great majority rates the task facing the Red Sox on Sunday night in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
It's the bleeps, in a landslide.
What does a team possibly do for an encore against Max Scherzer, a prospective Cy Young award winner, the night after narrowly avoiding being no-hit while losing 1-0?
Funny, though, that you should ask, because the Red Sox faced virtually that exact scenario earlier this season, and this is how they responded: A day after J.A. Happ and three Toronto Blue Jays relievers held the Sox to two hits in a 5-0 beating, the Sox faced R.A. Dickey, owner of the National League Cy Young Award in 2012.
Roll over? Hardly. The Sox hit six home runs, three by Will Middlebrooks, and won 13-0. Granted, that was April and this is October, and Scherzer is at the top of the game, while Dickey evidently had misplaced his.
But consider this: The Sox were held to two hits, their season low until Saturday night, on two other occasions this season. Each time, they responded with wins. After being shut out by the Dodgers on two hits on Aug. 23, Jonny Gomes hit a three-run home run in a four-run first inning the next day, propelling the Sox to a 4-2 win in Dodger Stadium. Almost exactly a month earlier in Tropicana Field, the Sox had been two-hit by Matt Moore of the Rays; the next night, Shane Victorino stole home as part of a double steal with Dustin Pedroia, and the Sox went on to a 6-2 win.
The Sox were shut out 11 times this season. They came back to win the next game eight times, including the past five in a row, and averaged 5.9 runs while doing so. One of those games came last month against Scherzer and the Tigers; the day after Doug Fister and three relievers combined to shut out the Sox 3-0, Jon Lester outdueled Scherzer 2-1, with Will Middlebrooks driving in both runs.
So the white-flag concession wasn't getting much action in the Red Sox clubhouse after the game.
"If you want to get to the big dance, you're going to have to beat good pitching,'' said Sox catcher David Ross. "We feel like the Tigers are one of the best teams -- in our opinion, the second-best team in the American League we're playing. There's a reason they're there for a third time in a row. They're really good. We expect them to be good.
"So if we want to make it to the World Series, if we want to win, it's got to start tomorrow.''
Jon Lester, who took the loss Saturday night, giving up the game's only run after the Sox came within a long shoelace of turning an inning-ending double play, noted how the Sox had their share of chances, grinding through long at-bats and didn't get the hit -- any hit -- when needed. Still, there was little wrong with their approach, Lester insisted. "Show up tomorrow, and do the same thing, do the same thing and score eight,'' Lester said.
But, but, but ... Scherzer, followed by Justin Verlander, who also has a Cy Young Award. What's a team to do?
"[Clay] Buchholz and [John] Lackey,'' said Pedroia, invoking the names of the Sox starters in the next two games. "Every team in the playoffs still has a championship-caliber team. We're excited for the opportunity.''
Victorino and Jacoby Ellsbury struck out three times apiece Saturday. That's not going to happen again. Victorino struck out three times in a game twice this season, Ellsbury once. The highest-scoring team in the big leagues hit just three balls to the outfield until the ninth; that's not going to happen again, either.
One final thought: The last time the Red Sox were no-hit at Fenway Park, the deed was perpetrated by a Tigers pitcher: Jim Bunning, on July 20, 1958. Hall of Famer Al Kaline, who was here Saturday night, caught a fly ball by Ted Williams for the game's final out.
That was the first game of a double-header. A half-hour later, the teams took the field again: Sammy White broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth with a single, Billy Consolo followed with a two-run single and the Sox won 5-2. By the end of the day, the no-no was a footnote in the Sox clubhouse.
"I think we'll be ready to go tomorrow night,'' John Farrell said. "If you haven't been around us this year, we have the ability to put tonight behind us and we'll be ready to go.''