Boston Red Sox at Detroit Tigers
Time/Place: 8 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Over the Monster
Media: FOX, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: LHP Jon Lester (ALCS 0-1, 1.42 ERA) vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez (ALCS 1-0, 0.00 ERA)
With the series knotted up at two games each, the starters from Game 1 will meet again for a rematch after a low-scoring pitcher's duel that resulted in a Tigers win.
Jon Lester held his own against the Tigers' always potentially (if not always actually) potent offense. Lester went for 6 1/3 innings, giving up only six hits and one earned run, with a walk and four strikeouts. All four of those strikeouts came in the first two innings, and Lester was able to keep the offense tied up in the infield, inducing nine ground balls that resulted in outs. He held the Tigers scoreless until the sixth inning, when he walked Cabrera, hit Prince Fielder, and gave up a single to Jhonny Peralta that scored Cabrera from third for the game's only run.
Anibal Sanchez pitched a very "Al Alburquerque start," in that he averaged one walk and two strikeouts per inning, ultimately striking out 12 and walking six batters through six innings of a no-hitter. Having reached his pitch-count limit, he turned the ball over to Alburquerque, Veras, Smyly, and Benoit, who continued the no-hitter into the ninth inning, when Benoit finally gave up a one-out single to Daniel Nava. The Tigers' pitchers combined for 17 strikeouts on the night, while the defense passed the time learning how to play chess, catching up on overdue bills, and creating animated GIFs like this one:
Question of the day: Is Austin Jackson fixed?
AJax has looked very out of sorts at the plate during this postseason, but in Game 4, Jim Leyland moved him to the number eight slot in the batting lineup, where he proceeded to go 2-2 with two walks and two RBI's. One of those RBI's came on a patient at-bat where he walked on four pitches with the bases loaded. His postseason slashline has improved to .200/.333/.200, and it appears as though Jim Leyland is going to use the exact same lineup for tonight's game. What can we expect out of Jackson? Has he found his groove again? Or was Jake Peavy just easier to hit?
The Tigers posted a home field win percentage of .630 this year, and so far in the postseason, they're playing .500 ball at home. Sanchez may have been a bit wild in his first outing against the Red Sox, but he no-hit them through six innings, and eight of his 12 strikeouts came on swinging whiffs, so he certainly had his filthiest stuff working. If the offense can continue doing what it did in Game 4, the Tigers should be able to walk away with a stress-free win.
This is the postseason. The Tigers aren't going to let you off the hook that easily. Somehow, probably through bad umpiring, they will drop this game anyway, forcing all of us to sweat it out while they go back to Boston to face two elimination games.