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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just as We All Expected: Lackey Outdueled Verlander in Game 3 of the ALCS

We're only three games into what could be a lengthy 2013 ALCS but already I'm struggling to find ways to describe all these bizarre events. Today in Game 3 at Comerica Park, Boston beat Detroit 1-0 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. John Lackey (6.2 IP, 4 hits, 8 strikeouts, 0 walks) submitted his best start as a Red Sox while Justin Verlander (0-1) was his typical unhittable self: 8 innings, 4 hits, 1 earned run, 10 strikeouts, 1 walk.

Made fun of by everyone (myself included), Mike Napoli decided to make contract for once and boy did it pay off. His seventh inning solo home run turned out to be the only run of the entire contest. By reversing the score on Game 1, Boston ensured that there will at least be one more game this season at Fenway Park. The question is if that will be Game 6 of the ALCS or Game 1 of the World Series?

The Red Sox bullpen, which has proven to be one of its biggest strengths this postseason, had a chance to shine yet again. Craig Breslow got two outs, Junichi Tazawa got one important out (striking out Miguel Cabrera with runners on first and third) while Koji Uehara was called on for a four-out save. No problem, after striking out the very unclutch Prince Fielder to end the eighth, he allowed a single to Victor Martinez (2 hits) to lead off the ninth but settled down for a scoreless ninth with a double play ball from Jhonny Peralta and another strikeout. After recording the win in Game 2, he picked up his more customary save.

The Tigers had six hits, Torii Hunter was 2 for 4 but Detroit went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. Just like you know they'll start getting more runs, you can pretty much bank on the fact that Boston's neutered lineup will do something more than it has (7 runs in 3 games) to this point against an incredible pitching staff.

Game 4 is tomorrow night (8:07, FOX) and it pits Jake Peavy against Doug Fister. Detroit knows Peavy well from his years with the White Sox but on the other hand, he was great against Tampa Bay in the clinching Game 4 of the ALDS. The pressure has shifted squarely on the Tigers since they can't afford to go down 3-1 to this team that is clearly their equal (if not a little superior).

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