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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tigers Dominate Game 4, 7-3, to even ALCS at Two Games Apiece


After three one-run games in a row, the 2013 ALCS was due for a blowout. Unfortunately, the Red Sox found themselves on the wrong side of that equation as they lost 7-3 to the Tigers in Game 4 this evening at Comerica Park. The all-important Game 5 is tomorrow night (8:07, Fox) back in Motown. This victory ensured that there will be another game(s) at Fenway in the series: Game 6 on Saturday afternoon (4:37, Fox).

The series is even at two now with Detroit's win which truthfully wasn't all that competitive. The Tigers went up 5-0 in the second inning and added two runs in the fourth before the Red Sox scored in baseball's equivalent of garbage time. Jake Peavy (0-1) just didn't have it in the biggest start of his MLB career although who knows how things would have gone if Dustin Pedroia had turned an inning-ending double play (that he usually makes in his sleep) when it was 1-0?

The two main takeaways from this are that Boston has to do something about the bottom of its batting order: Stephen Drew was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and Will Middlebrooks struck out in both of his plate appearances. To plead his case on the field, rookie Xander Bogaerts had a pinch hit double in the ninth and scored a run. Manager John Farrell admitted after the game that Bogaerts could very well be in the lineup for Game 5. Please do that!

Also, the media will prepare a tongue bath for Tigers manager Jim Leyland after he changed his lineup: having Torii Hunter (double, run, 2 RBIs) bat leadoff and Austin Jackson (2 hits, 2 RBIs, walk, run, stolen base) move to eighth couldn't have possibly worked out any better.

Doug Fister (6 innings, 1 earned run, 8 hits, 7 strikeouts, 1 walk) wasn't as sharp as his numbers suggest but he was helped out by a Red Sox offense that went 2 for 16 with runners in scoring position. Boston had 12 hits including five extra base hits but they left 10 men on base.

One of the main positives for the Red Sox to take out of his mostly lifeless loss is that Jacoby Ellsbury (4 for 5, double, run, RBI), Mike Napoli (2 for 4, double, run) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2 for 4, RBI) all broke out of their respective slumps at the plate. And yes, I remember Napoli's home run in Game 3.

Detroit's first two runs came on Jackson's bases loaded walk and a fielder's choice. Hunter's two-run double and Miguel Cabrera's RBI single (2 hits) made it 5-0. When Jackson's infield single scored another run and Cabrera added his second RBI single in the fourth for a 7-0 lead, you knew the Red Sox were done given their struggles at the plate by and large in this series.

Boston did show plenty of pride (no surprise there) with Salty's RBI single in the sixth, Shane Victorino's RBI double in the seventh and Ellsbury's RBI triple in the ninth. Leyland threw his embattled closer Joaquin Benoit out there in the ninth and he had to throw 21 pitches before retiring David Ortiz (irony) on a fly ball to right for the third out. Benoit should be tired or at least shaky if he gets used in Game 5 (ala Game 2).

Game 5 is a rematch of Game 2 as Jon Lester (0-1) faces Anibal Sanchez (1-0). As far as I'm concerned, it's easily the biggest game of the season thus far for the Red Sox. Going up 3-2 and heading home would be a great scenario to find themselves in. Either way, at this time tomorrow one of these teams will be one out away from advancing to the World Series.





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