Tigers pitchers struck out 17 and allowed just one hit to win the opening game of the American League Championship Series 1-0 in Boston Saturday.
Detroit had taken a no hitter into the ninth inning but it was broken up by Daniel Nava with just two outs to go.
Anibal Sanchez struck out 12, walked six and tossed 116 pitches (just 66 were strikes) to get the Tigers off to a good, yet shaky start. He left after six innings, becoming the first starter to take a no hitter so deep into a postseason game without a chance to finish it.
He became the third pitcher in postseason history to pitch hitless ball past the second inning without completing the game, according to STATS. The others were Baltimore's Mike Cuellar (nine walks in 4 2-3 innings) in Game 4 of the 1974 AL championship series against Oakland and Seattle's Paul Abbott (eight walks in five innings) in Game 4 of the 2001 AL championship series against the New York Yankees.
That wasn't the only history Sanchez made in the game. He opened the first inning with four strikeouts. That's because the second one -- to Shane Victorino, got by catcher Alex Avila and was scored a wild pitch, allowing the runner to reach. Sanchez walked the next batter before striking out David Ortiz and Mike Napoli to get out of the inning. With four strikeouts in an inning, he joined a Cubs pitcher named Orval Overall, who struck out four Tigers in the 1908 World Series, as the only other player to accomplish the feat in the postseason. (If you're into history, Charley O'Leary, Ty Cobb, Claude Rossman and Germany Schaefer were those Tigers, per B-Ref)
Boston walked the bases loaded in the sixth, but Sanchez struck out Drew to escape, eliciting this celebration:
With Sanchez's pitch count so high, Tigers manager Jim Leyland asked the maligned Tigers bullpen to get the rest of the job done. Al Alburquerque, Jose Veras and Drew Smyly combined to work perfect seventh and eighth innings before Benoit entered in the ninth. The closer got the first out, Mike Napoli struck out looking, but Nava fought off a two-strike count before dropping a hit in front of Austin Jackson to stave off history.
The last time a postseason no-hitter was broken up in the ninth inning was 1947, according to the Fox broadcast, when the Brooklyn Dodgers walked off with a win in the fourth game of the World Series against the Yankees. With two outs in the ninth inning, it was their only hit of the day against Bill Bevens. (B-Ref)
The Tigers scored their only run in the sixth inning when Jhonny Peralta singled to center to plate Miguel Cabrera. The only Tiger with a multi-hit game, Peralta went 3-for-4.
Here's the RBI: