BOSTON (CBS) — For all but one of their 35 plate appearances in Game 1, Red Sox hitters would not have fared any worse if they had stepped to the plate without a bat in their hands.
It was a futile night at the plate for the Red Sox, who didn’t get a hit off Detroit pitching until there was one out in the ninth inning. They struck out 17 times, including four times in the first inning, they went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and they left eight runners on base at the end of the 1-0 loss.
They had a chance in the bottom of the ninth, when Quintin Berry pinch ran for Daniel Nava and stole second with two outs, but rookie Xander Bogaerts — digging into a major league batter’s box for just the 53rd time of his young life — wasn’t able to come through with the game-tying single, instead skying a popup to shortstop to end the game.
After such a bad showing at the plate, and with soon-to-be Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer slated to go for the Tigers on Sunday night, some may wonder if the Red Sox may have some doubts heading into Game 2.
But manager John Farrell put it perfectly minutes after the loss: If you think that might be the case, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention to the Red Sox this season.
“We’ll be ready to go [Sunday] night,” Farrell said. “This team, if you haven’t been around us this year, we had the ability to put tonight behind us when we show up at the ballpark. Our guys will be ready to go.”
And really, for as much as the Red Sox leave Fenway Park frustrated early Sunday morning, they’ll be taking an equal amount of encouragement from the events of the four-hour affair. It’s not as if the vaunted Tigers lineup waltzed into Fenway and knocked Jon Lester all over the ballpark. They could muster just one run against the Sox’ starter, and that opportunity only existed because Victor Martinez beat out a double play by a millisecond to keep the sixth inning alive. At this time of year, being one split-second better than your opponent can be the difference between winning and losing, and the Red Sox are going to believe they can be a split-second better in Game 2.
And as daunting a task as it may be to face Scherzer, the Tigers don’t exactly have an easy go of it when they take the field on Sunday and have to face Clay Buchholz. Though Buchholz pitched 106 fewer innings than Scherzer, he posted a better ERA (1.74 compared to 2.90) and — when he was on the mound — was every bit the Cy Young contender that Scherzer was. While Buchholz’s injury cost him a chance at the award, it won’t hinder his chances in Game 2.
The Red Sox faced some questions last week, when they let Game 3 against the Rays slip away from them. For 20 full hours, debate raged about managerial decisions and missed opportunities from the loss, and the team knew that if they didn’t take Game 4, an undesirable trip back home for a winner-take-all Game 5 lay ahead. It never got to that, though, as they rallied from behind in the late innings to take the game and the series.
It was the type of resilience that’s become common with the Red Sox all year long. A 5-0 loss to Toronto early in the season was followed up with a 13-0 win the next day. A 13-0 loss to Oakland later in April was followed up with a 6-5 victory and a five-game winning streak. The seed was planted early — this team fights — and so it went for the rest of the year, leading to this moment.
With Scherzer on the mound a dangerous Detroit lineup in the other dugout, even the Red Sox’ best effort may not be enough to take Game 2 and even the series. But if you expect anything less than Boston’s best, then you must not have been watching. These Red Sox are fighters, and Game 1 wasn’t enough to be considered a knockout blow.