October 12, 2013

ALCS1: Tigers 1, Red Sox 0

Tigers  - 000 001 000 - 1  9  0
Red Sox - 000 000 000 - 0  1  1
Anibal Sanchez (6-0-0-6-12, 116) and a quartet of Detroit relievers utterly dominated the Red Sox on Saturday night, coming two outs shy of pitching the first combined no-hitter in postseason history. They racked up a total of 17 strikeouts, including four in the first inning.

When Daniel Nava blooped a single into short left-center with one out in the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox actually brought the potential game-winning run to the plate. Quintin Berry pinch-ran for Nava, but he stayed put as Stephen Drew flied to right for the second out. With Xander Bogaerts at the plate, Berry finally stole second, but XB could not deliver the clutch blow. He popped to shortstop to end the game.

The game's only run was scored by Miguel Cabrera. He walked with one out in the top of the sixth. Jon Lester (6.1-6-1-1-4, 109) then hit Prince Fielder with a pitch, putting two men on base. Victor Martinez forced Fielder at second and just barely beat the relay back to first, as Cabrera took third. Jhonny Peralta's single to short center, in front of Jacoby Ellsbury, brought Cabrera home.

Sanchez's wildness gave the Red Sox multiple scoring opportunities. After Ellsbury was caught looking to start the bottom of the first, Shane Victorino reached base on a strike three/wild pitch. Dustin Pedroia walked, but both David Ortiz and Mike Napoli went down swinging. It was only the second time in postseason history that a pitcher collected four strikeouts in one inning. Back in 1908, Orval Overall of the Cubs struck out four Tigers in the first inning of Game 5 of the World Series. The Cubs clinched their last championship later that afternoon.

In the second, Sanchez walked two more batters, but wiggled out of trouble, as Jose Iglesias made a nice play on Ellsbury's hard-hit groundball. Sanchez threw 51 pitches in the two innings and the Red Sox seemed to have him on the ropes. However, he settled down, using a devastating slider to retire 11 straight batters from the second to the sixth inning. Sanchez walked the bases full in the sixth, but struck out Stephen Drew with his final pitch of the night. Boston went in order in the seventh and eighth innings.


Anibal Sanchez / Jon Lester
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Nava, LF
Drew, SS
Middlebrooks, 3B
Ross, C
The Red Sox resume their quest for their eighth World Series title tonight at Fenway Park in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. (Boston has won 12 AL pennants.)

Lester (7.2-3-2-3-7, 114), who went deep into Game 1 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay, will start for Boston tonight.

Because the Tigers used Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, respectively, in Games 4 and 5 of the ALDS against Oakland, former Red Sox prospect Anibal Sanchez will get the ball for Detroit. Sanchez led the AL with a 2.57 ERA this season.

(Alex Speier (WEEI) has a cool article on Lester and Sanchez, who were 21-year-old teammates with Portland (AA) in 2005.)

John Farrell has changed his pitching rotation, flip-flopping Clay Buchholz and John Lackey. So we will see:
Game 2: Scherzer / Buchholz
Game 3: Verlander / Lackey
Game 4: Doug Fister / Jake Peavy
The Red Sox did not make any changes to their 25-man roster from the ALDS. ... Craig Breslow says his teammates were fairly split about whether they wanted to face Oakland or Detroit.
The Tigers won the 2013 season series 4-3, one of only four teams with a winning record against the Red Sox. The Orioles (11-8), Royals (5-2), and Rangers (4-2) were the others; Oakland was 3-3.
At Detroit
June 20 - Tigers 4-3
June 21 - Red Sox 10-6
June 22 - Tigers 10-3
June 23 - Tigers 7-5

At Boston
September 2 - Tigers 3-0
September 3 - Red Sox 2-1
September 4 - Red Sox 20-4
Speier looks at how the Red Sox matchup against the Tigers:
Reasons why Sox should fear Tigers:
– The pitching staff led the American League with 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings ...
– The Tigers feature a strong lineup from top to bottom ...
– The Tigers lineup has enjoyed tremendous success against Game 1 starter Jon Lester.

Reasons why Sox shouldn't fear Tigers:
– They finished a very meh 25-24 in their last 49 games.
– Miguel Cabrera is a shell of himself. ...
– Their bullpen remains a bit of a mess.
Katie Morrison (WEEI) offers a tale of the tape while Kyle Brasseur (ESPNBoston) tells us what to watch for.

Peter Abraham (Globe) predicts Boston in six games:
The Red Sox are a better team top to bottom and have several advantages, starting with extra time off to set their pitching. The Tigers have been slogging it out with a 16-15 record since the start of September (counting the playoffs). The Red Sox show no signs of letting up.
John Lowe (Detroit Free Press): Here's why Tigers should beware of Red Sox in ALCS. Lowe offers 10 reasons: "the top-five hitters in the order, their postseason four-man rotation and their closer".

Jonah Keri (Grantland) looks at both teams and opines: Tigers in 7. (Keri also recently posted a Baseball Dictionary, which is both funny and informative.)

In the ALDS against Oakland, Victor Martinez went 9-for-20 (three extra-base hits). Jhonny Peralta was 5-for-12. Prince Fielder was 5-for-18 (.278, all singles). Miguel Cabrera, bothered by a groin injury, was 5-for-20, with one home run. ... Verlander pitched 15 shutout innings in two starts against the A's. Scherzer started Game 2 and relieved in Game 4; in nine innings, he allowed six hits, four walks, and three runs. Complete stats here.

As before: