Boston Red Sox: Detroit Tigers

W2W4: Sox-Tigers, 'Sunday Night Baseball'

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8

DETROIT -- The Boston Red Sox look to avoid a series and season sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers on ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" at Comerica Park.

Not only has Boston lost the first two games of the series, it has dropped five consecutive games this season to the team it beat in the American League Championship Series last season.

But reinforcements are on the way.

[+] EnlargeMike Napoli
Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY SportsMike Napoli sat in Boston's dugout Saturday, but the Sox hope he provides a boost in his return to the lineup Sunday.
First baseman Mike Napoli, who has been on the disabled list since late May with inflammation stemming from a dislocated finger on his left hand, is scheduled to be activated on Sunday, and the plan is for him to go right into the lineup at first and his accustomed fifth spot in the batting order behind David Ortiz.

The Red Sox had been struggling offensively, but their bats perked up in Saturday night's 8-6 loss to the Tigers, and they're expecting another boost from Napoli.

"You're talking about a guy who had over 20 home runs and almost 100 RBI for us a year ago [23 homers and 92 RBIs]," Boston manager John Farrell said. "So that's a guy we're happy to have back."

Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who homered on Saturday night, agreed.

"A huge part of our order. A run producer. We need him," Pedroia said.

The Red Sox will send John Lackey (6-4, 3.28 ERA) to the mound against Detroit's Anibal Sanchez (2-2, 2.15).

Jon Lester was totally ineffective in taking the loss on Saturday night. He gave up five runs and 12 hits in 4⅓ innings. He said he didn't feel right from the time he started warming up in the bullpen.

"Hopefully, Lackey will come out and pick me up tomorrow night," Lester said after Saturday night's game.

Sanchez has allowed only a combined run and five hits in 15⅓ innings over his past two starts, with one walk and 14 strikeouts, but doesn't have a win to show for it.

The Tigers also feature the dangerous duo of Miguel Cabrera (.321, 11 HR and 51 RBIs) batting third in the order and Victor Martinez (.329, 14 HR and 37 RBIs) batting cleanup.

Cabrera was 3-for-4, including two doubles, with a RBI on Saturday night, and Martinez had a run-scoring double in five at-bats.

BOSTON -- The Detroit Tigers are looking for a Sunday sweep of this 2013 American League Championship Series rematch with the Boston Red Sox, having won 1-0 on Friday and 6-1 on Saturday behind dominant pitching.

Two all-too-familiar adversaries will be dueling in the finale.

The defending world champion Red Sox will try to muster some offense against Anibal Sanchez, who will make his first start since going on the 15-day disabled list on April 27 with blister problems on his right middle finger. Sanchez left the third inning of a game against Minnesota the day before, having allowed no hits through 2⅔ innings.

His counterpart, Jake Peavy, is looking to shake off some rust as well -- and regain command on his sputtering two-seamer -- in what has been a turbulent May that followed a solid April. In three starts this month, he is 0-1 with a 5.94 ERA, with just nine strikeouts and 11 walks.

Jake Peavy, Anibal Sanchez
Getty ImagesJake Peavy and Anibal Sanchez are set to face off on "Sunday Night Baseball."
For the season, Sanchez is 0-2 with a 3.13 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 23 innings. Peavy has made eight starts and is 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA, striking out 41 batters in 48 innings and allowing eight home runs.

Sanchez, of course, initially came up through the Red Sox system before being shipped off to the Marlins following the 2005 season, as part of the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston in exchange for Hanley Ramirez. On Sept. 6, 2006, Sanchez no-hit the Arizona Diamondbacks in his 13th career start, the only no-no of his career.

Since coming to the Tigers before the 2012 trade deadline, Sanchez has pitched well, going 18-16 with a 3.16 ERA. Last season, he finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting after posting a 14-8 record with a 2.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 202 strikeouts in 182 innings.

This will be Sanchez's first matchup against the Red Sox since his two battles with them in the ALCS. In Game 1, Sanchez threw six innings of no-hit ball, striking out 12, to pick up the win in a 1-0 Tigers victory. Game 5 was a different story, as he surrendered nine hits and four runs (three earned), including a two-run homer to Mike Napoli, in a 4-3 loss.

Sanchez's lone regular-season appearance against the Sox came in his second career start with the Marlins. He was roughed up for seven runs on eight hits over 4⅓ innings, including three homers, in an 11-5 Sox win. Among current Red Sox, Shane Victorino has had the most luck, putting up .233/.298/.326 totals with a homer and two RBIs in 43 at bats. Only one other current Sox player, David Ross, has registered more than 10 regular season plate appearances versus Sanchez.

Earlier this week, Boston flipped Peavy and Felix Doubront in the pitching rotation, setting up Peavy for this Sunday night battle (8 p.m. on ESPN). He hopes to do better than his last start against the Tigers, Game 4 of the ALCS, in which he was shelled for seven runs (all earned) in three innings of a 7-3 Tigers victory.

The Tigers know Peavy quite well from his tenure with the Chicago White Sox from 2009 to 2013. In the regular season against the Tigers, Peavy is 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA, allowing 13 homers and striking out 78 in 76⅓ innings.

It's no surprise that Miguel Cabrera has found the most success against Peavy among current Tigers. The reigning AL MVP has put up .289/.347/.511 totals with three home runs and nine RBIs in 45 career at-bats against the veteran right-hander.

The Red Sox have been struggling at the plate, as Xander Bogaerts' fifth-inning solo home run Saturday night broke an 18-inning scoreless streak, the only run for Boston in a 6-1 loss in which they stranded 12 runners.

Following up reigning AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer's three-hit, seven-inning gem on Friday night, Rick Porcello was sharp in eight innings Saturday, scattering six hits and striking out four while surrendering Boston's lone run.

Torii Hunter recalls ALCS bullpen flip

May, 17, 2014
May 17
BOSTON -- The iconic moment was one that stands out among the most memorable from the Boston Red Sox's 2013 championship season.

ALCS Game 2. Down by four runs, bases loaded in the eighth inning and perennial postseason hero David Ortiz at the plate.

[+] EnlargeTorii Hunter
Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY SportsTorii Hunter went 2-for-4 and drove in the sole run in Detroit's 1-0 win in Boston on Friday.
The line drive hit out to right field on the first pitch Ortiz saw; the full-out charge made by Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter in an attempt to catch the ball; and, finally, Hunter's head-over-heels flip over the wall, complemented by bullpen cop Steve Horgan's celebratory reaction, arms thrust in the air, as Ortiz hit a game-tying grand slam in an eventual 6-5 Red Sox win.

The image itself will forever last in Red Sox lore, but for Hunter, the moment is a thing of the past.

"I talked to [Horgan]. We laughed," Hunter said Friday night. "He's good people, man."

In town as the Red Sox host Detroit at Fenway Park for the first time since the Tigers were eliminated from the 2013 postseason in Game 6 of the ALCS, Hunter downplayed the situation that hung over his head during the series following Game 2. The 38-year-old outfielder said that none of the fans in right field gave him a hard time about the moment during the Tigers' 1-0 victory Friday and that he didn't understand why such a big deal was made over his comments following the event.

"[Horgan's] supposed to protect and serve. This son of a gun's got his hands up. Help me, then cheer, fool," Hunter told reporters following the Game 2 loss. "I wish I would have kicked him in the face."

The comments were in jest, Hunter said, and, as a visiting player, he's known Horgan for years.

"I wasn't mad. I just cracked a joke and they thought I was mad," Hunter said. "I don't know where it came from that I was mad. I was never mad."

Although Hunter drove in the only run Detroit needed to beat Boston on Friday night, the outfielder said there was no joy in revenge taken as part of the win.

"It doesn't matter," Hunter said. "This year is different; if you dwell on the past, you can't focus on the now. They won. It's over with. Now, it's a different scene. We're not here to prove anything. We're just coming to play."

Leyland retirement takes Farrell by surprise

October, 21, 2013
BOSTON -- The news of Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland’s retirement took Red Sox manager John Farrell by surprise Monday morning.

“Very surprised,” Farrell said. “I had sent him a text yesterday morning just to congratulate he and the organization on not only a great team, but a great year. I expressed the respect that we have for him, and certainly I have personally for him for all the success he’s had in his career.

“To see the announcement today, and to listen and know early September this was very clear on his mind, that’s surprising.

“But my gosh, when you take a step back and you’ve seen someone who has managed for 22 years, it’s a hell of a career and one I’m sure he’s extremely proud of.”

The Red Sox defeated the Tigers in Game 6 of the ALCS on Saturday night at Fenway Park to clinch a World Series berth.

W2W4: ALCS Game 6 -- Sox vs. Tigers

October, 18, 2013
• Where and when: Fenway Park, Saturday at 8:07 p.m. ET

• Starting pitchers: Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA)

• Scouting report on Scherzer: The tide has shifted since the beginning of the American League Championship Series. With Boston leading 3-2, Scherzer has had five days to adjust to what now seems to be a more potent Red Sox offense. However, Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia thinks that Scherzer has little, if anything, to change from his Game 2 performance.

"I don't see him making too many adjustments, he pitched pretty well," Saltalamacchia said. "[He] had a no-hitter going against us through five."

Indeed, Scherzer held the Red Sox hitless for 5 2/3 innings last Sunday, allowing only one run on two hits and striking out 13 in an eventual seven innings of work. The 29-year-old turned over a four-run lead to his bullpen in the eighth before Boston promptly scored four runs on a David Ortiz grand slam and walked off in the ninth against Rick Porcello on a Saltalamacchia single.

"I think we are going to be all right," closer Joaquin Benoit, who allowed the Ortiz slam, said of the bullpen heading into Game 6. "We've got a great group of guys and we have come in and out of tough situations pretty good."

Scherzer may need his bullpen to help keep his strong postseason alive Saturday night as the right-hander has gone 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three games (two starts, both seven innings; one relief appearance for two innings). The Tigers won 25 of Scherzer's 32 regular-season starts.

• Scouting report on Buchholz: Red Sox manager John Farrell believes that current familiarity with Scherzer will serve as an advantage for his offense, but admitted Detroit's lineup could benefit in the same way.

"Recent experience gives some comfort level to the guys that go up to the plate each time to face them," Farrell said. "I think the same would be on the other side with Clay tomorrow and the Tiger lineup."

Detroit hitters needed no help dispatching Buchholz in Game 2, when the Tigers knocked him out of the game with five runs scored on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. Buchholz served up two home runs during his outing, the only home runs the Tigers have hit in 164 ALCS at-bats. Despite his lack of success in Game 2, Red Sox hitters still have plenty of faith in the 29-year-old Buchholz matching up against Scherzer.

"We've got all the confidence in the world in him," first baseman Mike Napoli said. "I would expect him to go out there and pitch well."

"Without a doubt, it's going to be another pitchers' duel," shortstop Stephen Drew said.

Buchholz remains winless this postseason, allowing eight runs and 15 hits in 11 2/3 innings pitched.

Three Tigers players to watch

Miguel Cabrera, 3B: Cabrera's only home run of the ALCS came against Buchholz in Game 2, a solo shot over the Green Monster. The last two Red Sox victories have seen Cabrera neutralized by Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa in his final at-bat, both coming with runners on. Cabrera struck out with the go-ahead runs on first and third in Game 3 before grounding into a double play representing the go-ahead run in Game 5. Cabrera is 6-for-24 in 28 plate appearances against Buchholz.

Jose Iglesias, SS: After Iglesias' defensive prowess was on display Thursday night, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Friday that Iglesias will start at shortstop for the Tigers in Game 6, shifting Jhonny Peralta back to left field. Iglesias didn't start Game 2 against Buchholz and has never faced his former teammate in his career.

Austin Jackson, CF: Since being moved to the No. 8 spot in the Tigers lineup, Jackson has flourished, going 4-for-6 and reaching base six times consecutively before grounding into a double play in the sixth inning of Game 5. Jackson was held hitless by Buchholz in three Game 2 at-bats and is 5-for-22 in 24 plate appearances against the Red Sox right-hander.

Three Red Sox players to watch

• Mike Napoli, 1B: If there's anything Napoli proved in the 2011 postseason with the Texas Rangers it's that when he gets hot, pitchers need to look out. In 17 playoff games that year, Napoli hit .328 (19-for-58) with three home runs and 15 RBIs in the middle of a potent Rangers lineup. The past three games have seen Napoli produce strong numbers for the Red Sox as the first baseman went from 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS to 6-for-12 with two home runs and two RBIs in Games 3-5. Napoli was kept out of the starting lineup against Scherzer in Game 2 and is 1-for-13 in 14 plate appearances against him.

Shane Victorino, RF: Victorino hit left-handed against Anibal Sanchez in his first three at-bats of Game 5 before returning to batting right-handed against righty relievers Jose Veras and Al Alburquerque. It was his first time hitting left-handed since Sept. 3. Victorino said he's going back to an all-righty approach, but for his career he is 3-for-12 in 13 plate appearances against Scherzer (1-for-2 in Game 2). And he's mired in a 2-for-21 (0-for-5 in Game 5) ALCS slump. Farrell said Friday that he has considered dropping Victorino in the lineup.

• Stephen Drew, SS: Game 6 might be Drew's last chance to hold a starting spot in the Red Sox lineup as the left-handed hitting shortstop has been held to one hit in 17 ALCS at-bats, 16 of which were against right-handed pitchers. Eight of those 16 at-bats ended in a strikeout. Drew struck out once in two Game 2 at-bats against Scherzer and is 2-for-13 off him in 14 career plate appearances.

Three key considerations

• Scherzer and Game 7 probable starter, if necessary, Justin Verlander made 19 starts back-to-back during the regular season, all of which came before the All-Star break. In those starts, the Tigers won both games seven times, split the two 11 times and lost both just once.

• In 12 postseason Game 6 appearances, the Red Sox are 9-3 all-time, 5-0 at Fenway and 5-0 in the sixth game of an ALCS.

• Tigers catcher Alex Avila remains a game-time decision for Saturday's contest after being removed from Game 5 in the fourth with a sprained left knee he suffered in a second-inning home-plate collision with Red Sox catcher David Ross. Avila has started all 10 of Detroit's postseason games behind the plate, going 5-for-27 with a home run and four RBIs. The home run and three of his RBIs came in Game 2 against Buchholz, against whom Avila is 5-for-11 in 14 career plate appearances.

Leyland said designated hitter Victor Martinez as a consideration to catch if Avila can't play. Martinez, a full-time catcher for seven years from 2004-2011, started only three games at the position in 2013.

Sox must beat either Scherzer or Verlander

October, 18, 2013
If the Red Sox (up 3-2) are going to advance to their third World Series in 10 years, they’re going to have to beat either likely Cy Young winner Max Scherzer or former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who has given up exactly one run in his past five starts. Scherzer is scheduled to start Saturday’s Game 6 of the ALCS at Fenway Park and Verlander will go Sunday (if necessary).

Scherzer had a no-hitter into the seventh inning of Game 2 and ended up giving up one run over seven innings. Verlander gave up his first hit in the fifth inning and went eight total in Game 3, the one blemish the homer by Mike Napoli that turned out to be the game-winner.

The Red Sox were a combined 6 for 50 (.120 BA) against Scherzer and Verlander in Games 2 and 3, with two extra-base hits and 23 strikeouts. No Red Sox batter had more than one hit combined off either starter. David Ortiz, Mike Carp, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks were a combined 0 for 18 with 10 strikeouts.

Scherzer and Verlander made back-to-back starts 19 times during the regular season. In those games, the Tigers won both games seven times, split the two starts 11 times and lost both once.

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3

October, 18, 2013

DETROIT -- An unspoken subtext of Mariano Rivera's farewell tour was wondering when we would see his likes again, especially in the postseason, when the Yankees' closer was the true Mr. October.

Who could have imagined that a successor, at least for one dazzling autumn, would surface so soon, in the form of a 38-year-old Japanese import who, like Rivera, relies primarily on one maddeningly unhittable pitch.

Koji Uehara retired all five Detroit batters he faced to close out the Tigers 4-3 and push the Red Sox to within a game of advancing to the World Series for the third time in the last 10 years.

Uehara struck out the last two batters of the eighth, then set down the Tigers in order, former Sox prospect Jose Iglesias popping out to second baseman Dustin Pedroia at the end of a nine-pitch battle for the final out, as the Red Sox took a 3 games to 2 lead in the American League Championship Series.

The Sox, who built a 4-0 lead after three innings behind Mike Napoli's 460-foot home run, then held on for the win, can clinch a berth in the World Series as soon as Saturday night, when the Series switches to Fenway Park for Game 6.

The Tigers may be without catcher Alex Avila, who left the game with a strained patellar tendon in his left knee.

Stop, in the name of ... : Miggy Cabrera stole second base on one leg in Game 4 without drawing a throw, but it was no contest when Cabrera tried to score from second Thursday night on Jhonny Peralta's two-out single to left in the first. Tigers third-base coach Tom Brookens had the windmill going initially, then threw up a stop sign, but too late to dissuade Cabrera from completing his suicidal trip to the plate, where Jonny Gomes' throw beat him easily.

"With Miggy, you've got to stop him right away," manager Jim Leyland said. "[Brookens] made a mistake."

Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship: Red Sox third baseman Xander Bogaerts, who turned 21 on Oct. 1, became the youngest player ever to start a postseason game, trumping Babe Ruth, who was a couple hundred days older when he started in the 1916 World Series. Pretty tough to top Ruth's debut: He pitched 14 innings and drove in a run in Boston's 2-1, 14-inning win over Brooklyn in Game 2 at Braves Field (not a typo).

But Bogaerts held his own. He doubled in a run in his first at-bat, and started a 5-4-3 double play that extracted Junichi Tazawa from a sixth-inning jam. Second baseman Pedroia ignored the on-charging Brayan Pena to make a great turn at the bag.

Knocking heads: Catchers David Ross of the Red Sox and Avila of the Tigers, both sidelined this season with concussions, had a bone-jarring collision at the plate in the second inning, when Ross went in shoulder-first trying to score on a ground ball to second baseman Omar Infante. Avila held onto the ball for the out but came up limping. He was still in the game in the fourth inning, when Ross fouled a ball off his catcher's mask, but was lifted for pinch-hitter Pena in the fourth.

The Tigers announced that Avila left the game with a strained left patellar tendon -- Ross had gone hard into Avila's knee -- and was listed as day to day.

[Mountain]-man sized: Napoli's home run into the center field shrubbery in the second inning measured at 460 feet, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The stats gurus report that it was Napoli's fourth home run of at least 460 feet this season, most in the majors.

Second time's the charm: The Red Sox were held hitless for six innings in Game 1 by Anibal Sanchez, who walked six and struck out a dozen and was lifted after 116 pitches.

Thursday night, the Sox collected their first hit when Pedroia lined a single to left with two out in the first. Napoli homered to lead off the second for their first run, and they scored twice more on three hits, aided by Cabrera's error on Gomes' routine grounder to third. Sanchez went six innings again, and threw fewer pitches (108), walking none while striking out five, but the Sox had nine hits before he left, and added a run in the fourth when Napoli doubled, took third on an infield out, and scored on a wild pitch.

Bay watch: Napoli became the first Sox player with a home run, double and single in a postseason game since Jason Bay in 2008.

Split personality: Shane Victorino, evidently dismayed by his 2-for-6 showing in the ALCS, went back to batting left-handed against Tigers starter Sanchez, with no better results. Sanchez shattered his bat on an infield tapper in the first, induced him to ground to Infante on the play in which Ross was nailed at the plate, and got him for a third time on a ground ball to first. Victorino switched back to the right side against Tigers right-handed reliever Jose Veras in the seventh, and struck out. He finished the night batting right handed and striking out against Al Alburquerque in the ninth.

Less-than-lustrous Lester: Sox starter Jon Lester was not as sharp as he was in Game 1. Lifted by John Farrell after a leadoff walk and a bloop single by Omar Infante put two on with one out in the sixth, Lester was charged with a second run when Pena, who had replaced Avila, greeted reliever Tazawa with an RBI single to left-center. Lester gave up seven hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings, and was spared a potentially damaging error in the fourth, when shortstop Stephen Drew caught Lester's sailing throw to second and completed a 1-6-3 double play.

How Sanchez did it in Game 1

October, 17, 2013
In his Game 1 start, Anibal Sanchez -- who starts tonight for the Tigers -- threw six no-hit innings before being removed in Detroit’s 1-0 victory. He was the first pitcher in postseason history to go at least six innings and be pulled with a no-hitter intact.

He’s also the fourth pitcher in MLB postseason history to go at least six innings without allowing a hit. In two of the others, the pitcher went on to complete the no-hitter (Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series and Roy Halladay in the 2010 NLDS). The third instance was in the 1999 ALDS, when Pedro Martinez threw six hitless innings in relief.

How was Sanchez able to dominate Red Sox hitters? By getting them to chase pitches with two strikes.

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.

It wasn’t just Sanchez flustering Boston hitters in Game 1, but the Tigers bullpen did its part as well, allowing one hit in three shutout innings with no walks and five strikeouts.

In the game, Tigers pitchers struck out 17 Red Sox batters, tying the record for most strikeouts by a staff in a nine-inning postseason game.

The four-man Detroit staff of Sanchez, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Doug Fister has combined for 42 strikeouts in the first four games of the series.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the most strikeouts for a team’s starters in the first four games of any series in postseason history. In addition, that group's total of one run allowed per nine innings pitched (3 R in 27 IP) is the second-lowest for any starting staff through the first four games of a League Championship Series.

The only staff with a better mark in an LCS was... last year’s Tigers, whose staff allowed two runs in the first 27 1/3 innings pitched.

In the two ALCS, those four Tigers starters have combined for a 5-1 record, with a 0.83 ERA, .146 opponents’ batting average and more than 11 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.

W2W4: ALCS Game 5 -- Sox vs. Tigers

October, 17, 2013
• Where and when: Comerica Park, Thursday at 8 p.m. ET (listen on ESPN Radio)

• Starting pitchers: Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57 ERA) versus Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA)

• Scouting report on Sanchez: The 29-year-old ERA champ threw six hitless innings in Game 1, with 12 strikeouts and 18 swinging strikes. The good news for the Red Sox? It’ll be tough to top that performance in tonight’s Game 5.

“I don't worry too much about anything, especially when I go to the mound or face a team like Boston,” Sanchez said Wednesday. “I try to be focused on what I [am] going to do [Thursday] and get ready for it.”

Sanchez set the tone early for Detroit in Game 1, striking out four batters in the first inning to become the first Tiger to ever do so in a postseason game. His eventual win evened his postseason record at 1-1 and lowered his postseason ERA from 10.38 to 4.35.

He was lifted after six because his pitch count got high due to the number of strikeouts (12) and walks (six) in the outing.

“I know the situation [series tied 2-2],” Sanchez said. “But [Thursday] is one day; I’m not going to think too much where we’re at or what we’ve got. I think I need to go out there and throw good ball for another win.”

Last Friday was Sanchez’s first career start against the Red Sox.

• Scouting report on Lester: On the opposite end of Sanchez’s dominance in Game 1 was Lester, the losing pitcher after 6 1/3 quality innings pitched with only one run allowed. Given a shot at redemption on Thursday, Lester hopes the quick turnaround will serve as an advantage facing the same Tigers hitters.

“I know we'll come up with our game plan, whatever that is, and try and go and execute it and I'm sure they're going to do the same thing,” Lester said. “Just an intense series, pitch to pitch.”

Game 1 saw Lester hold the Tigers to six hits, the lowest number he has given up against Detroit since Opening Day of the 2012 regular season. In that game, Lester was able to keep up with 2011 MVP winner Justin Verlander, a testament to his ability to rise to the occasion when pitching, as manager John Farrell described.

“He's had a couple of opening game assignments in a playoff series, but he's earned them because of the way he's performed over the course of a year,” Farrell said. “His work between starts, that's what allows Jon to perform with the consistency and at the level he does.”

Lester is 3-4 with a 2.41 ERA in 10 postseason appearances (eight starts).

Three Tigers players to watch
Austin Jackson, CF: Moved from the leadoff spot to eighth in the order Wednesday, Jackson responded by going 2-for-2, nearly equaling his postseason hit total from the eight previous games (3 for 33). In total, he reached base in all four of his plate appearances Wednesday (two walks, including one with the bases loaded). Jackson had one hit in three at-bats against Lester in Game 1.

Jhonny Peralta, SS/LF: Game 4 was Peralta’s first postseason start in which he was held hitless (0-for-2). Peralta had two hits in three at-bats against Lester in Game 1; his second hit drove in Detroit’s only run in a 1-0 win.

Victor Martinez, DH: The postseason’s leader in hits (15), Martinez was kept quiet in Game 1, going 0-for-4 with three at-bats coming against Lester. Since then, Martinez has put together three straight two-hit games, scoring three times in the process.

Three Red Sox players to watch
Xander Bogaerts, 3B/SS: Brought into Wednesday’s game as a defensive replacement in the sixth inning, Bogaerts doubled off Detroit closer Joaquin Benoit for his first career postseason hit. The 21-year-old continues to remain poised in his first taste of playoff baseball, making himself a candidate to start in place of a struggling Will Middlebrooks (1-for-10, 5 K’s in ALCS) or Stephen Drew (1-for-13, 6 K’s). Bogaerts has never faced Sanchez.

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF: Ells has been Boston’s most dynamic player in the postseason, leading the team in hits, runs scored and extra-base hits. He was 4-for-5 in Game 4 but was held hitless in three at-bats against Sanchez in Game 1.

David Ortiz, DH: Wednesday marked a low point for Ortiz this postseason: 0-for-5 with five runners left on base. The designated hitter’s only hit of the ALCS has been his game-tying grand slam in Game 2. Facing Sanchez in Game 1, Ortiz struck out twice in three at-bats.

Three key considerations
Despite the success shuffling his lineup had for Jim Leyland, Farrell is in no rush to do the same with his lineup for a spark with the series tied. Although the Red Sox only scored three times Wednesday night, their 12 hits and 10 runners left on base were their highest totals for each in the ALCS.

Game 4 was the first game of the series not decided by one run (1-0 Detroit win Game 1, 6-5 Boston win Game 2, 1-0 Boston win Game 3).

Benoit needed 21 pitches to ineffectively retire the side in the ninth inning of Game 4, putting his availability in question for Game 5. In six appearances (5 2/3 innings), Benoit has allowed seven hits and four runs this postseason.

Stats: Tigers get all the Game 4 breaks

October, 17, 2013
The Detroit Tigers evened the ALCS with the Boston Red Sox with an offensive outburst previously unseen in this series.

It was a game in which the pitcher with a really good breaking ball pitched very well and one in which the pitcher with an uncontrollable breaking ball got hit hard.

The lineup changes work out fine
Tigers manager Jim Leyland juggled his lineup, putting Torii Hunter in the leadoff spot, Miguel Cabrera second, and Austin Jackson eighth.

Each of the three had two RBIs in the win.

Hunter had an RBI as a leadoff hitter for the first time since the 1999 season. It was the first time in his career that he had multiple RBIs when hitting leadoff.

Cabrera broke a tie with Hank Greenberg for sole possession of the Tigers’ postseason RBIs lead (he has 24, two more than Greenberg).

He also had his first stolen base since July 7. It was only the third time in his career that he batted in the No. 2 spot, the first time since June 2004.

Jackson was 2-for-2 with two walks. He was 3-for-33 with two walks in his first eight games this postseason.

This was the fourth time in Tigers history that they had at least three players with multiple RBI in the same postseason game. They previously did so in the 1940 World Series against the Reds, the 1968 World Series against the Cardinals and the 2006 ALDS against the Yankees.

Fister solid again
Tigers starter Doug Fister allowed one run in six innings to earn the win.

This was a game in which Fister had his good 12-to-6 curveball working and that proved to be a difference-maker.

Fister threw 27 pitches with two strikes, 16 of which were curveballs. It was the most often he’s thrown a two-strike curve in any start in his career.

The Red Sox went 1-for-8 against his hook in those situations, with four strikeouts.

Fister’s effort lowered his postseason ERA to 2.06 in seven career starts.

Peavy’s ugly outing
Jake Peavy became the first pitcher in Red Sox postseason history to allow seven runs in three or fewer innings of work.

Peavy had all sorts of trouble throwing strikes. His 54 percent strike rate was his third-worst in any game of his career, his worst since a 33-pitch start while pitching on an injured ankle against the Phillies in 2009.

Peavy’s breaking ball was what did him in. He threw only 10 of 25 curves and sliders for strikes. The Tigers got three hits against his slider, including Hunter’s two-run double.

Peavy has a 10.31 career postseason ERA in four appearances, all starts.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that is the highest postseason ERA for a pitcher in his first four appearances (with all of those appearances being starts).

The previous high was 8.15 by Charlie Root, who is best known as the pitcher against whom Babe Ruth hit his "called shot" home run in the 1932 World Series.

Nava gets the call in left field tonight

October, 16, 2013
DETROIT -- Daniel Nava is back in left field tonight for the Red Sox in Game 4. Here is their full lineup:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Daniel Nava, LF
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
8. Stephen Drew, SS
9. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
SP -- Jake Peavy, RHP

Leyland overhauls lineup for Game 4

October, 16, 2013
Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland overhauled his starting lineup for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night.

The biggest change to the lineup is at the top, where slugger Miguel Cabrera was moved from third in the order to second. Normal leadoff hitter Austin Jackson, just 1-for-15 in the series, was dropped to eighth. Torii Hunter replaces Jackson at the top of the order.

Leyland's changes come on the heels of the Tigers losing the last two games of the series, including a 1-0 defeat on Tuesday afternoon.

Cabrera, slowed by multiple injuries, failed to reach base for the first time in 32 postseason games on Tuesday. The reigning MVP, batting .182 in the ALCS, looked overmatched in striking out against Junichi Tazawa with a runner on third and one out in the eighth inning in Game 3. Cabrera batted .348 with 44 homers and 137 RBIs in the regular season.

Prince Fielder, who has yet to drive in a run in eight games this postseason, moves from the cleanup spot to third in the order.

Victor Martinez bats cleanup, followed by Jhonny Peralta, Alex Avila, Omar Infante, Jackson and Jose Iglesias.

Trying to even the series at 2-2, the Tigers send Doug Fister to the mound against Jake Peavy.

W2W4: ALCS Game 4 -- Sox vs. Tigers

October, 16, 2013
• When and where: Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET, Comerica Park

• Starting pitchers: Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67 ERA) vs. Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 ERA)

• Scouting report on Fister: Slotted fourth in the Tigers' rotation behind Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez, Fister is one of the most underrated starters in all of baseball. And the 29-year-old has no problem with that.

“My perception of it is the fact that I’m here, I want to be here, I want to be part of the team,” Fister said. “I want to go out there and perform with the best of them.”

Fister often has done just that in the postseason, as he is 2-2 with a 3.19 ERA in seven games (six starts). The right-hander’s best work has come in his three starts at the LCS level or above, going 1-1 with a 1.53 ERA.

“Fister has obviously done an extremely good job for us ever since we made the trade with Seattle [in 2011],” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He's more of a contact, mishit-it type pitcher, with an excellent curveball and changeup, good movement.”

In eight starts against Boston, Fister is 2-4 with a 4.36 ERA. He faced Boston twice this season, allowing six runs on 11 hits in 3 1/3 innings at Comerica on June 21 before shutting the Red Sox out for seven innings at Fenway Park on Sept. 2.

• Scouting report on Peavy: Among the most ferocious competitors in baseball, Peavy will make his first start at the LCS level or above, something the four-time All-Star has been looking forward to throughout his 11-year career.

“This is what, as a competitor, as a baseball player playing at the highest level, you dream of being able to do -- pitch in games that mean the world to your teammates, to yourself, to your coaching staff and your fan base,” Peavy said. “I promise you this, every part of me will be ready to go, and I'll be mentally prepared and rested.”

With eight days off since his Game 4 start against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS, Peavy will look to duplicate the success (one run in 5 2/3 innings pitched) he had in his first postseason start in the AL. Before that, Peavy was 0-2 in two postseason starts with the San Diego Padres, struggling through injuries to post a 12.10 ERA in 9 2/3 innings pitched.

“We know when he walks on the mound he's going to lay it all on the line, there's not going to be anything left in the tank when he walks off,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.

Peavy is 4-5 in 12 starts against Detroit, posting an ERA of 4.83. His last start with the Chicago White Sox before being traded to Boston came July 25 against the Tigers. He struck out seven and allowed four runs in seven innings to win.

Three Tigers players to watch
Miguel Cabrera, 3B: With his major league-record streak of 31 postseason games reaching base broken on Tuesday, Cabrera comes into Game 4 with a clean slate. The MVP slugger has an AL-leading 49 plate appearances against Peavy, going 13-for-45 with three home runs and nine RBIs. He'll look to make up for his Game 3 strikeout with runners at the corners and one out in the eighth.

Torii Hunter, RF: Needing something to spark his bat, Hunter had his first multihit game of the postseason on Tuesday, going 2-for-4. The 38-year-old has never been held hitless in five games against Peavy, going 7-for-16 with seven RBIs in 17 plate appearances.

Prince Fielder, 1B: In a critical at-bat of Game 3, Fielder struck out with runners on first and third and two outs in the eighth inning, keeping his postseason RBI total stuck at zero. Fielder has faced Peavy 38 times, going 10-for-36 with two RBIs and 10 strikeouts.

Three Red Sox players to watch
Shane Victorino, RF: In Fister’s two starts against the Red Sox this season, Victorino has been the biggest thorn in his side. The speedy right fielder has four hits in five at-bats against Fister with a home run and three RBIs.

Mike Napoli, 1B: The sole source of Boston’s offense with his home run on Tuesday, Napoli has struggled in 16 plate appearances against Fister, going 2-for-14. The home run was Napoli’s first hit since Game 3 against Tampa Bay, a span of 11 at-bats. Before the homer, Napoli was 2-for-19 in the postseason and 0-for-6 with six strikeouts in the ALCS.

Daniel Nava, LF: Nava figures to get the nod in left field over Jonny Gomes in Game 4 because of his strong career numbers against Fister. In 14 plate appearances, Nava has gone 5-for-12 against Fister with three doubles.

Three key considerations
• Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has appeared in six of Boston’s seven postseason games, throwing more than one inning twice. The 38-year-old went multiple innings in eight of his 73 regular-season appearances.

• The Red Sox have struck out 43 times through the first three games of the series.

• Leyland said after Tuesday’s loss that shortstop Jose Iglesias will start Wednesday, his first start since Game 1. Leyland also mentioned giving consideration to benching leadoff hitter Austin Jackson (3-for-33, 18 K’s in the postseason) in favor of Don Kelly. Leyland described the decision as one he would have to “sleep on.”

Nava takes no solace in breaking up no-no

October, 13, 2013
BOSTON -- Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava has shown a flare for the dramatic during his brief big league career, and Saturday’s Game 1 of the ALCS was no different.

The Tigers held a 1-0 lead and the pitching staff had held the Red Sox without a hit through 8 1/3 innings when Nava stepped into the batter’s box. Facing Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit, Nava forced the right-hander to throw seven pitches until he broke up the no-no with a base hit into shallow left-center field.

“I think it was a fastball,” admitted Nava. “Sometimes you just black out and react.”

With the potential tying run on first base, Red Sox manager John Farrell decided to insert speedster Quintin Berry as a pinch-runner. Berry stole second but was left stranded as Benoit retired Stephen Drew and Xander Bogaerts to end the game.

After Detroit’s margin of victory to take a 1-0 series lead, Nava said his lone hit meant nothing.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s the playoffs and you want that win,” Nava said. “If it was Dirt [Stephen Drew] who got the hit, no one cares. Obviously, you don’t want to get no-hit and [Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez] had his stuff working tonight. It was a challenge -- clearly. I struck out about a thousand times. Personally, it doesn’t mean anything because we lost. We’re not in the playoffs for personal reasons we’re in the playoffs to win.”

Nava is a calm hitter and under control in the box, so his teammates felt he was due to snap the no-hitter. In fact, Berry was ready to run when called upon.

“I definitely felt like we had a good opportunity to get on base with him hitting,” Berry said. “He’s going to battle. He’s been doing it all year and he’s got such a great swing, so he’s going to give us a good chance to get on base right there, so I just tried to stay ready for him.”

Bogaerts popped out to shortstop to end Boston’s comeback bid. Despite the loss, Bogaerts was happy to see Nava come through in the clutch.

“That’s what he’s done all year,” Bogaerts said. “He’s consistent hitter and that’s why his average is above .300 and he’s a great hitter all-around.”

Scherzer: 'I believe confidence is a choice'

October, 12, 2013
BOSTON -- Whether it’s a start in Game 1 of the ALDS, a relief appearance in Game 4 or starting Game 2 of the ALCS, it doesn’t matter to Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer. Just hand him the ball.

“Even in Game 5 [of the ALDS], if they wanted to give me the ball just for an inning I was ready,” Scherzer said. “At this point in the season, if your arm is tired or anything, you’re going to go out there.

“I believe confidence is a choice. And I always choose to believe that I always going to come out on top.”

Which is why pitching against starter Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox’s talented offense on Sunday night has put no fear into his mind.

“I’m on my normal rest pitching Game 2 so I’m fully ready to go,” the 29-year-old said.
Pitching with just a little more than his normal rest in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Oakland Athletics, Scherzer dominated, striking out 11 and allowing only two runs in seven innings pitched. Even his Game 4 relief appearance showcased his power stuff, as he escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam by striking out two before getting a line drive out to center to end the inning.

“I’m one manager that never had a lot of luck with that, bringing a starter out of the bullpen. Obviously I had to do it the other night,” Tigers skipper Jim Leyland said. “We left him in with the bases-loaded because he’s a strikeout guy and that’s exactly what he did.”

Facing the Red Sox, Scherzer will have to deal with a much more dynamic offense, mainly in the form of Boston’s stolen base success (45 consecutive stolen bases before Daniel Nava was caught stealing in the eighth inning of ALDS Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Rays).

“I know Boston does that. That’s why they create so many runs,” Scherzer said. “For me, it comes down to the simple fact that I’ve got to change my timing. I like to hold the ball, I think that disrupts the base runners.”

Like they have all season long (26-7 in Scherzer’s 33 starts, regular season and playoffs combined), the Tigers will be happy to have Scherzer holding the ball come the start of Game 2.

“Sometimes guys get on a roll,” Leyland said of Scherzer’s success. “And that’s the type of year he’s had.”