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BOSTON (CBS) – With a chance to put a stranglehold on the series, the Red Sox instead got body slammed by the Tigers on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the ALCS.
The Tigers scored five times in the second and twice more in the fourth on their way to a 7-3 victory.
Jake Peavy didn’t record an out in the fourth inning before he was pulled from the game, and the Sox were out of this game from the early innings until the ninth.
The Key Moment
That five-run second inning was almost avoided, but Dustin Pedroia could not make a play.
It was not the easiest play, but it was nevertheless a play Pedroia typically makes. Instead, the hard-hit grounder from Jose Iglesias was bobbled by Pedroia, whose flip to second base was in time to retire the runner but was far too late for Stephen Drew to turn a double play.
Had Pedroia turned the double play, the inning would have ended with the Red Sox trailing by a manageable 1-0 score. Instead, a run scored on the play, and three more would cross the plate in the inning. The game was all but over.
Unsurprisingly, the starting pitcher for Detroit was excellent. That’s been a trend this series, as Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander were all different shades of dominant in Games 1 through 3, and Doug Fister kept it going in Game 4.
Fister’s final line was strong: 6 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO. That means the Tigers’ starters this series have collectively posted a 1.00 ERA in 27 innings pitch while walking 10 and striking out 42 Red Sox batters.
(In a losing effort, credit to Jacoby Ellsbury for being The Man for the Red Sox. Ellsbury had four hits, including an RBI triple in the ninth inning, as well as a diving catch before the game got out of hand in the second inning.)
While Pedroia was the one who didn’t make the play in the second, it was Jake Peavy who couldn’t stop the bleeding.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Peavy was bad in Game 4. According to ESPN, he became the first pitcher in Red Sox postseason history to allow seven runs in three or fewer innings pitched.
It was worlds apart from his start in the clinching game of the ALDS, and it sunk the Sox’ chances to build a 3-1 series lead on Wednesday night.
It’s one of those situations for the Red Sox where as bad as the taste may be from Game 4, they’re still in good shape at 2-2 in the series. If you had offered them that opportunity a week ago, they would have preferred a four-game sweep, but they likely would have felt OK about their chances if tied 2-2.
It will be a Game 1 rematch for Game 5, which might not be great news for the Red Sox. Jon Lester pitched well in that game, but Anibal Sanchez absolutely shut the Red Sox down with six no-hit innings. The odds of Sanchez repeating that performance would seem low, if not for Boston’s inability to crack any of Detroit’s starters.
Whatever the problem is – aside from the Tigers’ starting staff being very, very good – the Red Sox are going to need to mix up their approach at the plate this time around in order to try to find more success.
Thursday night’s Game 5 will be the pivotal game of the series, with the winner heading to Boston one win away from reaching the World Series.