Anibal Sanchez no-hit the Boston Red Sox for six innings and the Detroit Tigers' bullpen finished the game with three innings of one-hit shutout ball. It all adds up to a Tigers' 1-0 victory and a 1-0 advantage in the ALCS.
The Red Sox were no-hit for 8 1/3 innings. Daniel Nava broke up the no-hit bid with a one-out ninth-inning single off Tigers' closer Joaquin Benoit. Five Tigers' pitchers combined to tie the MLB postseason record for most strikeouts in a game with 17. For the Red Sox, the 17 K's was (obviously) the most in team playoff history.
Sanchez was wild, but in a "my stuff is so nasty, I have trouble controlling it and the Red Sox hitting it" way. He did not allow a hit and struck out 12. But he also walked six and needed 116 pitches. A gassed Sanchez was pulled after six innings. He would need help to get the win ... and got it.
In his one inning of work, Al Alburquerque struck out two in the seventh. Jose Veras struck out the two batters he faced in the eighth, Drew Smyly recording the final out of the inning. Benoit earned the save, allowing one hit, striking out one to close out the game.
Red Sox starter Jon Lester was the hard-luck loser, allowing just one run and six hits over 6 1/3 innings.Three Red Sox relievers kept the Tigers off the scoreboard, allowing three hits and two walks in a combined 2 2/3 innings.
Jhonny Peralta's sixth-inning single drove in Miguel Cabrera for the only run of the game. Peralta was the Tigers' offense with three of their nine hits and the lone RBI of the game.
The old trope says good pitching beats good hitting. The Red Sox never had a chance, being the Tigers had great pitching in ALCS Game 1.
Sanchez was brilliant, but he needed help. He got it, the bullpen putting on a lights-out performance to make sure Sanchez got the win. But the tone was set by the Tigers' starter, who bounced back after allowing six runs in just 4 1/3 innings in his only ALDS start. That performance was an outlier on what was a season worthy of Cy Young consideration.
Tonight, Sanchez performed as we saw for the majority of this season. But the Red Sox had not faced the 2013 version of Sanchez until ALCS Game 1.
They got quite the indoctrination.
Miguel Cabrera may be injured, but he's still a threat. Facing Jon Lester with two out in the first, he just missed wrapping a fly ball around the Pesky Pole on Fenway's short porch in right. Lester may have thought he gained a reprieve, but Cabrera ripped a single off the Green Monster instead. Daniel Nava played the ball like you would have expected Jhonny Peralra (badly). Though Cabrera can still hit, he can't run.
Miguel Cabrera is running like a Molina brother strapped to two other Molina brothers.— Jonah Keri (@jonahkeri) October 13, 2013
Prince Fielder's ALCS got off to a good start, following up Cabrera's line drive single with one of his own to center. Jacoby Ellsbury allowed the ball to play him, the ball bouncing off his body and into left center, but the injured Cabrera could only hobble to second.
Thanks to injury, it was going to take two more hits to get Cabrera across the plate.
Martinez worked Lester into a full count, before bouncing to short to end the threat. The Tigers may not have scored, but they made Lester work, needing 20 pitches to get out of the inning.
The Red Sox manufactured a scoring threat without benefit of a base hit. One down, Anibal Sanchez struck out Shane Victorino, but the pitch was in the dirt, taking a weird skip through the legs of legs of Alex Avila. Victorino reached first base without a throw on the wild pitch.
Victorino proceeded to steal second while Sanchez was walking Dustin Pedroia to set up an RBI opportunity for David Ortiz. Big Papi complained mightily after he believed he checked his swing on a full-count breaking ball. Joe West thought otherwise, punching him out. For what it's worth, replays confirmed Cowboy Joe's call.
Sanchez proceeded to strike out the side and tie an MLB playoff record in the process, when Mike Napoli became his fourth K victim of the first inning.
The K-fest continued in the second. Lester struck out a pair in a 1-2-3 second. Sanchez got into another bit of trouble in the bottom half of the second, walking a pair after striking out Nava. With two down, Jacoby Ellsbury hit the ball hard, but Jose Iglesias knocked it down on the short hop, bobbled it, scooped it back up, double-clutched and then fired a bullet to first, nipping the threat in the bud.
Sanchez had great stuff, but he was also having trouble controlling it. He had five strikeouts, three walks and a pitch count of 51. At this rate, Sanchez was tracking for 125 pitches in five innings. The bullpen would likely be getting a good deal of work tonight.
Bottom of three and the game still scoreless, Sanchez converted his first 1-2-3 inning. It was also his first with less than 20 pitches, needing just ten. There was still hope Sanchez could pitch fairly deep into the game.
Also of note - Sanchez had yet to allow a base hit.
Also of note was the Red Sox bitching up a storm over Cowboy Joe's strike zone (and it definitely was an West-ian one). It's the equivalent of watching a team full on Rasheed Wallaces, the BoSox insisting the strikeouts were never their own fault. When Victorino was punched out in the third, he screamed, " OH #$%@ UMP!" amongst other things. The hope for Tigers' fans being their insolence with West would cost them dearly with a tiny strike zone later.
Sanchez was dealing in the fourth, striking out the side for the second time on the night. Thought he needed only three K's this time around.
Top of the fifth gave us the first TOOTBLAN of the series. Peralta led off by doubling to left center. The Red Sox were playing bunt all the way, the corners pulled in. Infante wasn't bunting, but Napoli easily handled the ground ball, but instead of heading for the bag, he fired to second. Peralta had ventured too far of second and was an easy out.
Avila then singled to right, Victorino charged with an error when had trouble corralling the ball, which allowed Infante to reach third. The Tigers put the contact play on, which failed miserably. Infante didn't get a secondary lead and got a late start. Iglesias hit the ball hard, but right at third baseman Will Middlebrooks.
Infante was dead to rights.
Two on and two out, Jackson didn't strike out ... but he didn't drive in the run, either. Victorino caught his drive to right just short of the warning track. The Tigers had squandered a huge scoring opportunity with awful base running.
Accurate assessment RT @nessamark: FUUUZJXJAJD— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) October 13, 2013
The Tigers' base running was the polar opposite of Sanchez's pitching. Ellsbury struck out to end the fifth, the tenth to go down on strikes. Sanchez's pitch count was an elevated 88, but he had also kept the Red Sox scoreless and hitless.
Between Sanchez tonight and Verlander in ALDS Game 5, the Tigers became the first team in postseason history to carry carry no-hitters through five innings in back-to-back games.
But it wouldn't be anything more than a historical footnote if the Tigers couldn't score.
Dear Tigers, Please score. --Your friends at Bless You Boys— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) October 13, 2013
It would be the Tigers' turn to manufacture a scoring threat without benefit of a base hit in the sixth. Lester walked Cabrera and plunked Fielder, putting two on with one out for Martinez. Lester induced a ground ball to short, but it wasn't hit hard enough to turn two. Martinez (Yes, Martinez!) beat the throw by a half step, extending the inning for Peralta.
Martinez's hustle would prove huge.
The count 2-2, Peralta didn't get all of Lester's hanging curveball, but got enough to send a looper to center which dropped in front of Ellsbury for an RBI single. Cabrera limped home with the first run of the game, the Tigers drawing first blood in the ALCS.
Infante ended the inning with a hard shot to third, but the Tigers were up 1-0 after 5 1/2. The question now is, could Sanchez make the run hold up? For that matter, how deep in the game could he go with a pitch count over 90 in the sixth?
Al Alburquerque and Drew Smyly were warming up as Sanchez walked Pedroia with one out. Ortiz at the plate, Sanchez wild-pitched the runner to second, but still recorded his 11th strikeout, Ortiz going down via a checked swing for the second straight at-bat.
Napoli, who can barely see over his ridiculous beard, kept his bat on his shoulder while taking a six pitch walk. That earned Sanchez a visit from pitching coach Jeff Jones.
A tiring Sanchez was battling with his command, walking Nava on five pitches. Sanchez's third walk of the inning would load the bases. Would Leyland pull him for Smyly, or leave him in to face Stephen Drew?
Sanchez remained in the game.
Drew fouled off a pair of 1-2 pitches before becoming Sanchez's 12th K of the game. As a sold-out Fenway Park crowd groaned, A fired-up Sanchez celebrated with an emphatic fist pump, having pitched out a bases-loaded jam. But he was also at 116 pitches, and the reason he had to pitch out of trouble was due to his own wildness. If Sanchez didn't get pulled after the sixth, you would have had to wonder if Leyland was watching the same game as everyone else.
Top of seven, Lester plunked Iglesias leading off, his second hit-by-pitch of the game. Manager John Farrell gave his starter the hook after 6 1/3, six hits and one run. Right-hander Junichi Tazawa entered the game to face the top of the Tigers' order.
Iglesias took second on Jackson's ground out. Hunter made a bid, but his fly ball to deep right died on the warning track, Victorino making the catch to keep the Red Sox within a run.
Sanchez then became the third pitcher in playoff history to be pulled while pitching a no-hitter. In his case, Sanchez was tracking for a 174-pitch game, so the move was understandable.
Honestly, all that matters is a W tonight— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) October 13, 2013
Leyland made the call for Alburquerque to start the bottom of the seventh. That caused a bit of an uproar. The only uproar afterward came from the Red Sox players and the fans at Fenway who all were upset West had punched out Ellsbury to end Alburquerque's two K, 1-2-3 outing.
If this is a regular season game there's at least one Boston player tossed by now. And probably Farrell, too— Grape (@spacemnkymafia) October 13, 2013
After seven full innings, the Red Sox had yet to record a hit and had struck out 14 times.
Lefty Craig Breslow took over for the Red Sox in the eighth. He proceeded to load the bases. Fielder drew a one-out walk, the white-hot Peralta doubled into the left field corner with two down. Runners on second and third (Ramon Santiago now pinch-running for Peralta), Farrell played percentages, knowing Avila's splits (.139/.227/.228 vs left-handers). He ordered Infante intentionally walked, in order to have his lefty reliever face the lefty swinging catcher.
The move worked, thanks to Avila hitting the ball to wrong part of Fenway. He gave the ball a ride, but Ellsbury flagged it down just short of the warning track in dead center.
There were mass defensive changes in the bottom of the eighth. Santiago remained in the game, replacing Cabrera at third. Don Kelly took over in left for Peralta. Jose Veras was on the mound, taking over from Alburquerque.
Veras' fastball and curve was, as they say in Beantown, wicked. He struck out both Victorino and Pedroia before being pulled for Smyly with Ortiz due up.
Their K count at 16, Tigers' were now one short of tying the postseason record of 17, held jointly by Bob Gibson (against the Tigers in 1968) and the combo of Kevin Brown and Trevor Hoffman.
Smyly did hit the backstop with a pitch (cue the "Hit the bull" Bull Durham jokes), and he didn't get a strikeout. But a fly ball to center worked just as well. Ortiz's can of corn ended the inning, the Tigers clinging to a 1-0 lead as the game entered the ninth.
Wanting to keep it a one-run game, the Red Sox went with their closer in the ninth, Koji Uehara. He was greeted with a single to center by Iglesias.
Jim's gonna bunt, it'll come down to two outs for Kelly, and I'll scream very loudly in anger.— Scott Rogowski (@DNR_Rogo) October 13, 2013
Leyland elected to play for one run, asking Jackson to lay one down. Keep in mind Cabrera was out of the game and Don Kelly was now hitting in the three spot.
Jackson had an awful at-bat, sending two bunts foul and striking out on the third pitch from Uehara. In this case, not getting the bunt down cost the Tigers a run. Hunter ripped a liner into the left-field corner, Iglesias forced to hold at third.
The squeeze would have made sense, but light-hitting Kelly was swinging away. He just plain overwhelmed by Uehara, striking out on three pitches.
At that point, the Red Sox just plain made a play to keep it a one-run game. Fielder sent a flair into medium center. Ellsbury was playing far too deep to get there, but Drew ran the ball down from shortstop, making an spectacular over-the-shoulder grab to save two runs.
The catch meant there would be no insurance for Joaquin Benoit. The Tigers' closer entered the game, asked to get three outs and give the Tigers a 1-0 win. A no-hitter would just be icing on the cake.
Napoli became the 17th strikeout victim, standing there like the proverbial house on the side of the road.
Nava finally broke up the no-hitter with a looper to center which dropped for a single. A no-hitter would have been nice, but it was all about getting the W.
Nava was replaced by speedy pinch-runner and ex-Tiger Quintin Berry. After falling behind 2-0 to Drew, Jones made his second visit to the mound of the night, obviously telling Benoit to throw strikes rather than worry about the batter.
Benoit did just that, and Nava flew out to right for the second out.
Pinch-hitter Xander Bogaerts at the plate, Berry finally stole second.
The Fenway Park crowd going nuts and Berry clapping, Benoit got the out the Tigers so desperately needed. The count full, Bogaerts popped up to Iglesias to end a Tigers' one-hit masterpiece.
WINNER WINNER!— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) October 13, 2013
That was Detroit's No. 3 starter.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) October 13, 2013
Checks blood pressure, 180/100...collapses.— World of Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) October 13, 2013
I NEED A DRINK.
Absolutely unbelievable game. All the excitement of game 163, but with the right finish this time.— Lee Panas (@tiger337) October 13, 2013
Your final score is Tigers 1, Red Sox 0. They take a 1-0 lead in the ALCS.
Post game, Avila summed up a brilliant, if a bit wild, performance by Sanchez. Via Matthew B. Mowery:
"Without a doubt, he’s got No. 1 stuff. His stuff at times is probably some of the nastiest stuff we have on the team. Today was one of those nights for him. His ball had so much action on it, I don’t even think he knew where some of them were going"
Sunday's Game 2 features the Tigers' Max Scherzer (2-0, 3.00 ERA) taking on the Red Sox's Clay Buchholz (0-0, 4.50 ERA).
Though his ALDS Game 4 win in relief was a roller coaster ride, Scherzer was excellent in his one ALCS start. He held the A's to two runs on three hits, striking out 11 in seven innings in Game 1. Scherzer pitched nearly as well in his last regular season start in Boston, allowing two runs and five hits, striking out eight over seven innings on September 3. But a lack of run support hung a 2-1 loss on Scherzer, his second the season to that point.
Buchholz was placed on the disabled list with a neck strain in mid-June, not returning until September 10. When he was healthy, Buchholz was one of the best Red Sox starters, ending the 2013 season with a 12-1 record and 1.74 ERA. But he made one huge mistake in Game 3 of the ALDS, allowing a three-run homer to Evan Longoria. Buchholz was pulled after six innings, allowing seven hits and three runs in a 5-4 loss to the Rays.
First pitch at Fenway Park is set for 8:15 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Jeff Daniels was ready for Tigers' baseball.
Miguel Cabrera's first-inning single extended his MLB record, now having reached base in 30 consecutive postseason games.
Memo to Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. It's pronounced "Ann-I-ball," not "AnnaBelle." I'm not sure if I'm more annoyed by that, or Jim Kaat pronouncing Porcello, "Por-chello."
With his four K first, Anibal Sanchez joined Orval Overall as the only pitchers in MLB history to record a four-strikeout inning in the postseason. Overall set the record in with the Cubs in the 1908 World Series, striking out four Tigers in the first inning of Game 5.
Orval Overall's four strikeout victims: Charley O'Leary, Ty Cobb (!), Claude Rossman, Germany Schaefer http://t.co/sUePJqaPPt— Jesse Spector (@jessespector) October 13, 2013
Overall was strikeout king in his time. Times have changed.
Orval Overall led the league in K/9 in 1908 with 6.68. That would be 60th out of 81 this year.— YCPB (@cantpredictball) October 13, 2013
Let's not go dissing Orvie Overall please. A) 108-71, 2.23, 1.16 B) Cal Bear C) He looked like he could mess you up pic.twitter.com/gfUfK1Jvgc— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) October 13, 2013
For all the attention given to the Red Sox's beards, this tweet nails the ridiculousness of it all.
This is what I think of when they show Napoli: http://t.co/tka3Z8xJLn— Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) October 13, 2013
Jhonny Peralta at the plate in the sixth, the Red Sox fans started to chant "STER-OIDS, STER-OIDS" The clueless hypocrisy was stunning.
Do they chant "steroids" at Ortiz too, or is it only bad when the other guys do it?— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) October 13, 2013
Of course, Red Sox fans would say David Ortiz was never suspended. That's easy to counter. Peralta may have been suspended, and likely took something, but never tested dirty. Ortiz did test positive in 2003. Let's not even get into Manny Ramirez.
Pulled after six, Sanchez became just the third starter and fourth pitcher in postseason history to go at least six no-hit innings. The two starters got their no-hitters, Don Larsen (1955 World Series) and Roy Halladay (Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS). There was also Pedro Martinez's relief appearance in Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS. He entered the game in the fourth inning and no-hit the Indians the remainder of the way.
Two others have been pulled in the postseason without allowing a hit. The Orioles' Mike Cuellar in the 1974 ALCS allowed a run and walked nine in 4 2/3 innings. The Mariners' Paul Abbott got the hook after eight walks and five no-hit innings in the 2001 ALCS.
Anibal Sanchez's 12th strikeout set a record for the most by a single pitcher against the Red Sox in postseason play. The only pitcher in postseason play to have 12 strikeouts and six walks in a game was the Big Train, Walter Johnson. Though the Hall of Famer needed 12 innings and allowed 14 hits.
Sanchez was also the third Tiger to record 12 K in the postseason. Bill Donovan in 1907 and Joe Coleman in 1972 also accomplished the feat.
Jose Veras' first strikeout of the eighth was the 15th of the night, ensuring the Red Sox would break their postseason record. Veras' second tied the Tigers' team playoff record of 16, set in ALDS Game 1. Joaquin Benoit's first strikeout of the ninth tied the MLB playoff record of 17.
For the first time in baseball history, two playoff games on the same day ended with 1-0 scores. The Cardinals topped the Dodgers by a 1-0 score in the first playoff game of the day, taking a 2-0 lead in the NLCS.
Fox was over-the-top in their camera shots of tense Red Sox fans. The script was (a) show the pitch, (b) cut to a close-up in the crowd, (c) repeat.
FOX camera just showed up at my dorm to show my nervous face. unsure how to handle this— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) October 13, 2013
SHOW MORE OF THE CROWD— Paul Sporer (@sporer) October 13, 2013
Though there was one shot of a certain Tigers' fan.
The biggest downside to playing the Red Sox? Games take FREAKING FOREVER. Tonight was the longest nine inning, 1-0 game in postseason history, with a ridiculous running time of 3:56.
Anibal Sanchez: Was literally unhittable, wicked good stuff. It was a great bounce back performance for Sanchez after getting hit hard in his only ALDS start.
Jhonny Peralta: The Tigers' sometimes left fielder, sometimes shortstop has become their most important bat in the postseason. Was the one player in the game with multiple hits and had the game-winning (and only) RBI.
The bullpen: Al Alburquerque, Jose Veras, Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit came up huge when needed. You couldn't have asked for more.
Tigers' base running: A TOOTBLAN and a runner thrown out at the plate. This can't keep happening if the Tigers want to advance to the World Series.
Tigers' offense: Give the Red Sox pitching credit, but the offense is still sputtering. The Tigers wasted almost every scoring opportunity they were given, bailed out by Peralta's lone RBI hit. The pitching staff won't continue shutting out the Red Sox.
FOX: The next fan close-up I see will be one too many.
TOP 11 COMMENTERS:
Who else but Justin Verlander? The Tigers' ace topped Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, receiving 97% of vote.