All the Detroit Tigers have to show for three stellar performances from their starting pitchers is a 2-1 deficit in the AL championship series.
Boston's offense has struck in clutch moments over the past two contests, and the Red Sox will look to come within a victory of reaching another World Series by winning Game 4 on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.
Detroit's starters - Anibal Sanchez , Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander - have allowed two runs and six hits while striking out 35 in 21 innings, including six frames of no-hit ball from Sanchez in a 1-0 victory in Game 1.
The resilient Red Sox, though, haven't been fazed. They ended the combined no-hitter and put the tying run in scoring position in the ninth in their lone defeat, then capped a five-run comeback with David Ortiz 's eighth-inning grand slam and Jarrod Saltalamacchia 's walk-off single for a 6-5 win in Game 2.
With Verlander dealing Tuesday, Mike Napoli homered in the seventh to give Boston a 1-0 victory - the fourth 1-0 decision and seventh shutout in 27 games this postseason."The runs are pretty stingy," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "This is what it's about in postseason, is good pitching."
The Red Sox got some of their own solid pitching in Game 3 from John Lackey , who struck out eight and allowed four hits in 6 2-3 innings before the bullpen shut down the Tigers the rest of the way.
"We won a game with four hits," outfielder Jonny Gomes said. "It says a lot about this team."
Miguel Cabrera , who homered in Game 2, failed to reach base for the first time in 32 postseason games for Detroit and struck out with Austin Jackson on third and one out in the eighth. Prince Fielder then whiffed to end the inning."We got opportunities to try to score and we didn't do our job," Cabrera said.
Detroit, which is 5 for 33 (.152) with runners in scoring position over its last four games, will look to even the series while providing some run support for Doug Fister in his second postseason start.
Fister (0-0, 4.50 ERA) allowed three runs in six innings as the Tigers beat Oakland 8-6 in Game 4 of the Division Series on Oct. 8. He gave up six runs and 11 hits while lasting just 3 1-3 innings in a 10-6 home loss to Boston on June 21, but held the Red Sox to four hits in seven innings of a 3-0 victory at Fenway Park on Sept. 2.
"I think a lot of it is the fact of just executing - keeping the ball down, mixing pitches and not getting in any sort of routine," Fister said. "Their hitters are very smart, very intelligent. And you know, we've seen each other a lot."
Napoli is 2 for 14 off the right-hander in his career. Shane Victorino , however, is 4 for 5 with a homer off Fister this season.
Boston manager John Farrell said Fister presents different challenges than Detroit's previous starters in the series.
"He might not have the sheer power and velocity the other three guys have in this rotation, but he does it a little differently," Farrell said.
Peavy (0-0, 1.59) gave up one run in 5 2-3 innings in Game 4 against Tampa Bay in the Division Series on Oct. 8 as Boston eliminated the Rays with a 3-1 victory. His last start for Chicago came against Detroit on July 25, as he allowed four runs and four hits in seven innings and picked up an 8-4 victory.
"I do know those guys well," Peavy said. "It comes down to (Wednesday) night, executing the game plan that we think we're going to go with and get those guys out. It's a huge challenge with the way they swing the bat."
The right-hander went 12 days between appearances in his first postseason start, and he'll be pitching on seven days' rest against the Tigers.
"You like to pitch every five days, we're creatures of habit and we like to do that," Peavy said. "There will be no excuses (Wednesday) night for not being sharp. And I don't think that's going to be the case."
Torii Hunter is hitting .182 in the postseason, but he's 7 for 16 with a homer lifetime off Peavy.
|Boston Red Sox|
|September 01, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left hip contusion|
|August 29, 2013||Mike Carp||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder irritation|
|August 17, 2013||Mike Napoli||Day-to-Day||Sore left foot|
|August 08, 2013||Brandon Snyder||15-Day DL||Ulnar neuritis, right elbow|
|August 08, 2013||Brandon Snyder||15-Day DL||Ulnar neuritis, right elbow|
|August 05, 2013||Matt Thornton||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|September 26, 2013||Danny Worth||60-Day DL||Dislocated left shoulder|
|September 19, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Hand|
|September 19, 2013||Phil Coke||Day-to-Day||Elbow|
|September 04, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Bilateral shin splints|
|August 24, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Sore left elbow|
|August 17, 2013||Omar Infante||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back stiffness|
DETROIT (AP) -- Jim Leyland dropped Austin Jackson to eighth in the batting order, hoping to relax the slumping Detroit outfielder.
So naturally, Jackson's first plate appearance came with the bases loaded. After drawing a four-pitch walk to force in a run, he finally felt a little more at ease.
A revitalized Jackson delivered in Leyland's revamped lineup as the Tigers built a big lead and held on this time, beating the Boston Red Sox 7-3 Wednesday night to even the AL championship series 2-all. Detroit scored five runs in the second inning, the first coming home on Jackson's walk.
" It was a big situation right there to try to get something done," Jackson said. " I think after I'd seen a couple of pitches I was able to kind of just take some deep breaths and relax a little bit - and not worry so much about the result, just try to get a good pitch."
Jackson finished with two singles and two walks. He was 3 for 33 with 18 strikeouts in this postseason before Wednesday.
Torii Hunter had a two-run double and Miguel Cabrera drove in two runs after Leyland moved the slumping Jackson out of the leadoff spot and bumped almost everyone else up a place following the Tigers' 1-0 loss in Game 3. The Detroit manager was quick to deflect credit afterward.
" This has nothing to do with Jim Leyland, this is about the players," Leyland said. " They executed, they came out, they played well."
Jackson's bases-loaded walk off Jake Peavy in the second seemed to be a relief for most of Comerica Park. Another strikeout could have derailed the rally, but instead the Tigers broke the game open.
Doug Fister , meanwhile, provided another fine outing for Detroit. He allowed a run in six innings, and the Tigers' starting pitchers have yielded only three runs in 27 ALCS innings - and struck out 42.
After blowing a 5-0 lead in Game 2, Detroit kept the Red Sox at bay Wednesday.
Game 5 is Thursday night in Detroit. The Tigers' Anibal Sanchez faces Boston's Jon Lester in a rematch of Game 1, which was won by Detroit 1-0.
Jacoby Ellsbury had four hits for the Red Sox on Wednesday, finishing a homer shy of the cycle, but now it's Boston manager John Farrell fielding questions about whether a lineup shakeup is in order after another tough night against Detroit's pitching.
" The one thing that we've maintained is a constant approach with the lineup and not creating further uncertainty," Farrell said. " I think our guys have responded well to that."
The Tigers lost Games 2 and 3, wasting gems by Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander . Leyland left Jackson in the lineup but changed the batting order. Jackson hit eighth, and with others moving up a spot, it made for an odd-looking lineup. Hunter hit leadoff for the first time since 1999 and Cabrera was second for only the third time in his career - first since 2004.
" That was pretty good. He switched things up, kind of shake it up a little bit," Hunter said. " It gave us a different mindset. Miggy hitting second, me leading off. It gave us a different mindset to make things happen."
Leyland indicated his batting order would remain the same in Game 5 - but will he be doing anything special with the lineup card from Wednesday's game?
" I'll throw it away, unless I can sell it to some bar on the way home," he said.
Jackson found himself batting in a crucial situation right away in the second. Peavy walked him to force home the game's first run.
The Red Sox had a chance to halt that rally when Jose Iglesias hit a potential double play grounder to second, but Dustin Pedroia couldn't field it cleanly and Boston had to settle for a forceout at second that brought another run home.
" That was my fault. We've got to turn that double play," Pedroia said. " That ball was smoked. If I catch it, we're getting two."
Hunter followed with a double down the line in left to make it 4-0, and Cabrera added an RBI single.
After walking three batters in the second inning, Peavy was in trouble again in the fourth. After a leadoff double by Omar Infante , Jackson slapped a single past a diving Pedroia to bring home a run.
" It felt good to contribute to a win," Jackson said. " Just get a chance to go out there and not put so much pressure on yourself, just have fun."
Cabrera's single made it 7-0, and the Detroit third baseman - who has been running even slower than usual over the last month or so because of groin problems - caught reliever Brandon Workman and the Boston defense napping when he stole second without a throw.
In the fifth, Cabrera looked healthy enough when he charged Pedroia's slow grounder, barehanded it and threw to first for the out.
Peavy allowed seven runs and five hits in three-plus innings.
Detroit blew a 5-0 lead in Game 2 - with the bullpen responsible for most of the damage- and Cabrera and Prince Fielder both struck out with runners at the corners in the eighth inning of Game 3. The tension was building in Motown, but the defending AL champions jumped out to an early lead Wednesday.
David Ortiz 's tying grand slam in Game 2 off Detroit closer Joaquin Benoit kept the Tigers from sweeping the first two games at Fenway Park.
Detroit went to Benoit in the ninth Wednesday with a 7-2 lead, and Ellsbury hit an RBI triple with none out. But Benoit struck out Shane Victorino , ensuring that Ortiz wouldn't be able to bat as the tying run later in the inning.
When Ortiz did come up for his rematch with Benoit, there was only one man on. The Boston designated hitter took another mighty swing, but his high fly to right was caught easily.
Detroit had taken a no-hitter into the fifth inning of its previous four games. Pedroia's single in the first put an end to that streak, but the Red Sox didn't do much against Fister.
Boston had a chance to score first in the second. Mike Napoli , whose homer accounted for the only run of Game 3, led off with a double off the tip of Cabrera's glove and went to third on a groundout. Cabrera caught Jarrod Saltalamacchia 's foul popup against the railing of the Detroit dugout, and Fister struck out Stephen Drew .
After the Tigers scored five in the second, Boston put two on for Ortiz in the third. He pulled a grounder into Detroit's shifted defense for the third out.
Saltalamacchia hit an RBI single in the sixth, but Fister got out of a two-on, one-out situation after that. The right-hander allowed eight hits and a walk, striking out seven.
Victorino hit an RBI double in the seventh to make it 7-2.
NOTES: The Boston bullpen, which has been outstanding in this postseason, worked five scoreless innings. ... Drew Smyly got five outs in relief for Detroit, helping the Tigers get the game to Benoit.