Series: 2-1, Boston
Time/Place: 8 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation blog: Over the Monster
Media: FOX, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 ERA) vs. RHP Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67 ERA)
Welcome back, old friend. Surprisingly, this will be Jake Peavy's first start in Comerica Park this season. It doesn't seem like it, but that's because he faced the Tigers a whopping six times last year. His only outing against Detroit this year came in his last start for the White Sox this July. The Tigers tagged him for four runs in seven innings, but lost because Justin Verlander was not Justin Verlander at that point. Last season, Peavy allowed 24 runs in 38 1/3 innings and an .848 OPS against the Tigers.
Peavy was his usual self for the first month after being traded to the Red Sox. He posted a 3.18 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 4.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio in six August starts. Things were not so rosy in September, however. He allowed 15 runs and walked an abnormally high (for him) 13 batters in 25 innings. That excellent strikeout-to-walk ratio from August dropped to just 1.62 in September. Peavy seemed to be his normal self in the ALDS however, holding the Tampa Bay Rays to one run in 5 2/3 innings in the decisive Game 4.
Doug Fister made two starts against the Red Sox this season, and they could not have been more different. At Comerica Park on June 21st, Fister had one of his worst outings of the season as the Sox scored six runs on 11 hits in just 3 1/3 innings. There were a number of seeing-eye ground balls for hits, but Fister left his fastball up in the strike zone far too often in that game against an excellent Red Sox offense. The second time around, Fister held the Sox scoreless through seven innings at Fenway Park. He kept the ball down in the zone, resulting in 13 ground ball outs and three double plays, including this gem from Jose Iglesias.
Question of the day: Who will start in center field?
At the risk of giving Patrick an aneurysm, Jim Leyland hinted that he may start Don Kelly over Austin Jackson in center field tonight. Jackson is 3-for-33 with 18 strikeouts in the playoffs, but has looked much better at the plate in this series. Kelly is 2-for-9 with three walks in the postseason. Both hits were infield hits off Oakland's Sonny Gray in Game 2 of the ALDS.
Will Kelly start? I'm inclined to think so, given that Leyland didn't immediately shoot the question down. Is it the right move? Not in the slightest, especially with Jhonny Peralta in left field. Will it work? Given how this series has gone, it's definitely possible.
Doug Fister has been here before. In the last series, Fister took the mound in a pivotal Game 4 with the Tigers down 2-1 and delivered a solid performance. He rebounded from some early jitters to get through six innings, giving his offense some time to settle in against the A's pitching staff. This time, things aren't too much different. Fister can have success against the Sox if he keeps the ball down. If he doesn't have command of his fastball, it could be a long night.
Peavy puts the Tigers on the brink of elimination with another gutsy performance.