"I think my pitch, I think my pitch move really good that day," Sanchez said during his press conference on Wednesday. "And that's why I don't ‑‑ when they don't swing, the balls go down. And another one just when I throw a strike ‑‑ I was ahead on the count, help me to strike them out, the guy, I think that was the key. They help me that day."
The last time out, Red Sox batters went just 0-for-19 against him. According to ESPN Stats&Info:
Red Sox hitters chased 41 percent of pitches in two-strike counts in Game 1, compared to just 17 percent before two strikes. Seven of his 12 strikeouts came on pitches out of the zone.
Sanchez isn't going to rest on his laurels though. He fully expects Game 5 to be a new animal.
"All the time I say every day different," Sanchez said. "When we are on the mound, the pitcher move a lot or something like that. But [Thursday] I need to work more on the throw strike. Last time I threw too many away, and I don't want to do on my next outing."
Those six walks somewhat took away from the spectacle of his no-hit performance. Throwing just 66 strikes in 116 pitches meant he was in trouble much of the night, despite his dominance. Pitch count trouble the whole game, meant the game was definitely going to be in the hands of the Tigers' bullpen. That turned out to be fine. Four Tigers relievers combined to allow just one hit and no runs, preserving the 1-0 victory. But it also meant Sanchez was the first pitcher in postseason history throw six innings of no-hit ball without finishing the game.
Lester's performance was kind of lost behind the fact his team was no-hit for 9 1/3 innings, but he allowed just the lone run in 6 1/3 innings, striking out four. Asked what made Lester so success, his manager, John Ferrell, said, "Not to make it too simple, but it's been his fastball command. And as he's gained that consistency and the confidence with it, I think he's become a more relaxed pitcher on the mound, which enables him to pitch more freely from a physical standpoint. I think that's why we're seeing the velocity climb and it's made his pitches more effective."
Lester agreed the fastball set things up. "That's the name of being a pitcher," he said. "You've got to have good command of your fastball down the zone on both sides. For whatever reason, whether it was just that little extra time after the break, just physically felt better within each game.
"So, yeah, I mean, I think that hits the nail on the head with that. Fastball command has been pretty good since."
The series is tied 2-2 and heads back to Boston on Saturday for Game 6 no matter which team wins Thursday.
Quotes via ASAP Sports Transcripts