Mike Napoli got around on a Justin Verlander fastball in the seventh inning, hitting a solo home run into the bullpen to send the Boston Red Sox to a 2-1 series lead in the American League Championship Series. Napoli's home run was one of only a few hard-hit balls off Verlander, who allowed just four hits in eight innings. Verlander struck out 10 while walking one, and didn't allow a hit until there were two outs in the fifth inning.
Opposite Verlander was John Lackey, who settled down after escaping a shaky first inning. Lackey allowed four hits in 6 2/3 shutout innings, striking out eight without a walk. Lackey fed the Tigers a steady diet of breaking balls after they came out aggressive in the first inning, putting two runners aboard before Victor Martinez flied out to end the inning.
The game was momentarily delayed in the middle of the second inning when the power went out at Comerica Park. Despite there being plenty of daylight to play by, the game was delayed as both teams waited for the stadium lights to come back on. The delay didn't faze either pitcher, however, as the two pitchers combined to strike out seven of the nine next hitters. Jonny Gomes' infield single in the fifth inning was the first hit by either side after the delay. Incidentally, it was also Boston's first hit of the game.
The Tigers also threatened in the bottom of the fifth inning when Jhonny Peralta led off the inning with a double. Alex Avila's ground ball to second advanced Peralta to third base, but Omar Infante struck out and Andy Dirks grounded out to first to strand Peralta at third.
The Tigers' best chance might have been in the eighth inning, when Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter both singled with one out. Jackson advanced to third on Hunter's single to right field, but both were stranded when Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder struck out to end the inning.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH
Verlander mowed through the Red Sox lineup in eight pitches in the first inning, and through 1 2/3 innings was looking pretty solid. This was nothing new for this series, though.
Red Sox are now just 2-for-46 vs. Detroit's starting pitchers with that Saltalamacchia strikeout. #ALCS— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) October 15, 2013
After Verlander's outing, the Red Sox have six hits against the Tigers' starters in the first three games of this series.
Meanwhile, Dodgers fans had some fun with the lasting image from David Ortiz's grand slam in Game 2.
Sadly, my tweet in the fifth inning was more prophetic than I first believed.
Lackey strands Peralta at third base. If this keeps up, the Red Sox could have a 2-1 series lead without having a hit in innings 1-4.— SB Nation MLB (@SBNationMLB) October 15, 2013
Meanwhile, Jose Iglesias pinch hit for Andy Dirks in the eighth inning and I have no complaints. Dirks saw six pitches in two at-bats with a strikeout. Iglesias saw three pitches in one at-bat and struck out looking.
Justin Verlander: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 10 K, 1 BB. This should be the line of postseason legend. Instead, it just results in another frustrating loss.
Torii Hunter: a pair of hits for Hunter in four at-bats, including one that sent Austin Jackson to third base in the eighth inning. He helped set the table, but the Tigers couldn't convert.
The bullpen: That is how the eighth inning of Game 2 should have gone.
@Detroit4lyfeRob It's amazing how different things look when relievers actually do their jobs.— #BeatBoston (@catswithbats) October 15, 2013
The rest of the offense: Can you even single out anyone at this point? The Tigers seemed utterly baffled by the concept of a curveball, and this isn't the first time this has been the case this postseason.
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ALCS GAME 2 PLAYER OF THE GAME
Max Scherzer might not have gotten the win after his bullpen imploded in Game 2, but he was BYB's player of the game with 81% of the vote.