Wednesday, October 16, 2013
W2W4: ALCS Game 4 -- Sox vs. Tigers
By Kyle Brasseur, Special to ESPNBoston.com
• 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.”