Red Sox - 031 000 000 - 4 10 0 Tigers - 000 011 100 - 3 10 1
The Red Sox are one win away from the World Series.
Boston took an early 4-0 lead, then held on through several tense innings as the Tigers scratched back into the game. The bullpen was tasked with getting 11 outs. In the end, it was up to Koji Uehara, who got the final five outs and sent his team back to Boston with a 3-2 lead in the series.
For the first time in the ALCS, the Red Sox scored a run before the sixth inning. Mike Napoli led off the second with a mammoth home run to dead center, estimated (perhaps conservatively) at 460 feet. Jonny Gomes reached on a fielding error by Miguel Cabrera. After Stephen Drew struck out, Xander Bogaerts doubled to left, and Gomes was held at third. David Ross doubled in one run and Jacoby Ellsbury singled home another. In the third, Napoli hit a ground-rule double, and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
After being no-hit through six innings by Anibal Sanchez in Game 1, Boston had hits in each of the first five innings against Sanchez (6-9-4-0-5, 108).
Lester (5.1-7-2-3-3, 98) was not sharp, and his fastball velocity hovered around 91-92, but he was able to work out of most jams. He received a gift in the first inning when the lumbering Cabrera ran [sic] through a stop sign and was gunned down at the plate for the third out. Detroit stranded a man at second in the second and Lester started a double play to escape the fourth.
The Tigers put their leadoff man on base in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, and three of those runners scored. In the fifth, Austin Jackson singled, was bunted to second, and scored on Cabrera's single.
Victor Martinez walked to open the sixth and took second on Omar Infante's one-out single. Red Sox manager John Farrell was quick with his hook on Lester and went to Junichi Tazawa. Brayan Pena (who had replaced the injured regular catcher Alex Avila) singled on Tazawa's first pitch, scoring Martinez and cutting the Red Sox's lead to 4-2. Tazawa got out of the inning with a 5-4-3 double play.
The Boston bats had gone mostly silent after the third inning and the Tigers continued to threaten. Tazawa gave up two singles, to Jose Iglesias and Torii Hunter, start the seventh. Cabrera was at the plate in the biggest at-bat of the night. Tazawa threw ball one, then got a groundball to Dustin Pedroia, who raced to the bag for one out and threw on to first for the double play. A run scored, however, bringing the Tigers to within one run, 4-3.
Craig Breslow came in and retired Prince Fielder to end the seventh. Breslow began the eighth by getting Martinez to ground out to first. And then it was Koji Time. Uehara seemed determined to drain away most of the drama from the situation. It took him nine pitches, but he struck out Jhonny Peralta and then whiffed Infante on three pitches to close the eighth.
Boston had a golden opportunity to add some insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Bogaerts worked the Red Sox's first walk of the night and Will Middlebrooks pinch-ran. Ross dropped down a first-pitch sacrifice to third and Middlebrooks, seeing that third base was unguarded, took two bases on the bunt! Jacoby Ellsbury was walked intentionally and quickly stole second. However, Shane Victorino struck out and Pedroia flied to center.
In the bottom of the ninth, Uehara faced the Tigers' 7-8-9 hitters. Pena popped out to shallow left on a 1-2 pitch. Jackson took a ball and lifted a routine fly to center. Iglesias battled for nine pitches, including four foul balls, before popping out to Pedroia.
The time of Saturday's Game 6 depends on what happens in the NLCS. If there is a Game 7 between the Cardinals/Dodgers, the Red Sox/Tigers will play at 4 PM. If St. Louis wins the NL pennant on Friday night, Boston will play at 8 PM.
Jake Peavy explains what went wrong in Game 4. ... Gordon Edes writes about the mistakes of both Peavy and Dustin Pedroia. ... Perhaps a slightly different lineup sparked the Tigers to score seven times. (More likely, it was simply the law of averages.)
Steve Buckley of the Herald writes that both managers can be seriously second-guessed over the first four games. ... David Ortiz has nothing but high praise for the Tigers' starters, and the pressure is on the Boston starters to match them. ... ESPNBoston tells us what to watch for in Game 4.
Rain is expected in Detroit during the afternoon and into the evening.