Final, 4-3 Red Sox: Koji Uehara was simply dominant. He got Brayan Pena to fly out to left, Austin Jackson to fly out to center, and Jose Iglesias to pop out to second base after a lengthy battle.
That’s all from Detroit. The Sox took two of three and they head home for Game 6 on Saturday knowing that a win sends them to the World Series.
Middle 9th, 4-3 Red Sox: Runners at second and third with one out for the Red Sox, but they get nothing from it. Shane Victorino, who’s looked plain awful at the plate tonight, struck out on a pitch in the dirt for the second out, before Dustin Pedroia flew out to center to end the inning.
The Sox got their runners from a Bogaerts walk and an intentional walk to Jacoby Ellsbury, which curiously came after Will Middlebrooks came in to pinch run for Bogaerts and took third on a David Ross sacrifice bunt.
Koji Uehara now has a job to finish.
End 8th, 4-3 Red Sox: Koji Uehara is simply outstanding.
He fell behind Peralta 3-1 but came back with a fastball that Peralta couln’t touch to get the count full. Peralta then fouled off three pitches before Koji got him to chase a 3-2 splitter for strike three.
He then made short work of Infante, getting him to strike out on the splitter in just three pitches. He threw 12 pitches, so he should be just fine for the bottom of the ninth.
Bottom 8th, 1 Out, 4-3 Red Sox: It’s Koji time.
Breslow got Martinez to ground out, albeit on a hot shot to first, and Koji Uehara now comes on for a five-out save. He’ll face Peralta and Infante here in the eighth.
Middle 8th, 4-3 Red Sox: The Boston bats have gone cold, and it’s all on the bullpen now.
Napoli struck out, Gomes grounded out and Drew popped out to send the game to the bottom of the eighth at 4-3.
End 7th, 4-3 Red Sox: Breslow gets the job done, as Fielder grounds out to Pedroia to end the inning.
This one’s getting good.
Bottom 7th, 2 Outs, 4-3 Red Sox: Junichi Tazawa ran into some trouble in the seventh, and the Red Sox’ lead is just one.
Jose Iglesias went down and got a 2-2 pitch that was headed toward the dirt for a leadoff single to center field. Torii Hunter then was able to hit a sharp single to right field, allowing Iglesias to get to third base with nobody up.
In stepped Miguel Cabrera, the game’s best hitter, and on a 1-0 count, with “M-V-P” chants echoing throughout Comerica Park, Cabrera grounded to Pedroia for a 4-3 double play.
Iglesias scored on the play to cut the lead to 4-3, but all things considered, the Red Sox have to be happy that the damage wasn’t worse with Cabrera at the plate.
That’s the night for Tazawa, as Craig Breslow is on to face Prince Fielder.
End 7th, 4-2 Red Sox: A two-out infield single by Dustin Pedroia and a steal of second doesn’t get the Sox anything in the seventh, as David Ortiz flies out to right to end the inning.
Leyland used Phil Coke to get Ellsbury out to start the inning before bringing in Jose Veras, who struck out Victorino before Pedroia’s at-bat.
It’s Iglesias followed by the top of the order for the Tigers due up in the seventh, so this may be the crucial inning here.
End 6th, 4-2 Red Sox: Tazawa allows a run to score on his first pitch, which Brayan Pena sent into left field for an RBI single. However, the damage stopped there, as Tazawa got Jackson to roll one to third base. Bogaerts fielded and thew to Pedroia, who had the humongous Pena bearing down on him. Pedroia leaped and fired to first, and Napoli was able to make a great backhand scoop to his right while keeping his toe on the corner of the bag for a huge inning-ending double play.
Bottom 6th, 1 Out, 4-1 Red Sox: Jon Lester’s night is over, and the tying run is coming to the plate.
Victor Martinez led off the inning with a walk, though Lester’s 3-1 pitch appeared to be a good one that was called a ball by Dale Scott. Lester then got Peralta to chase a curveball away, but Infante’s bloop to shallow center fell just in front of a diving Ellsbury.
It will be first and second with one out for Junichi Tazawa.
Lester allowed just one run in 6 1/3 innings in Game 1, and though he threw one fewer inning tonight, he’s hoping the earned run number is the same. It’s up to Tazawa now.
Middle 6th, 4-1: The Sox go down 1-2-3 in the sixth for the first time all night. Drew struck out, Bogaerts popped out, and Ross struck out.
That’s likely it for Sanchez, who did a much better job at recovering from a bad inning than Jake Peavy did last night. As a result, his team is still just one swing away from tying the game or taking the lead.
It’ll be Martinez, Peralta and Infante in the sixth for the Tigers, with Lester at 82 pitches.
End 5th, 4-1 Red Sox: The Tigers are on the board, but Lester was able to minimize the damage.
With Austin Jackson (he doesn’t make outs anymore, apparently) on second base after a single and a sac bunt by Iglesias, Miguel Cabrera hit a 3-2 fastball into left-center field for a long RBI single to get the Tigers on the board.
Prince Fielder, struggling mightily, grounded out after that to end the inning.
That sac bunt was very nearly trouble, as Lester bobbled it but flipped to first just in time to retire Iglesias at first. Iglesias and the Tigers argued the call, but the shortstop was indeed out by a half-step.
Middle 5th, 4-0 Red Sox: Jhonny Peralta is not a left fielder, and that was evident when he was unable to get to a moon shot bloop off the bat of David Ortiz. Instead of ending the inning, the ball fell. Napoli then singled to extend the inning, but Gomes grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
Sanchez is now at 92 pitches, so it will be bullpen time sooner than later for Jim Leyland.
Meanwhile, Lester’s got Jackson, Iglesias and Hunter coming up in the fifth. If Lester can get through these next two innings without allowing more than a run, he and the Sox will be in good shape.
End 4th, 4-0 Red Sox: That inning was a lot more difficult than it needed to be, but Stephen Drew and Mike Napoli came through for Jon Lester when he needed it.
With Victor Martinez on first with one out in the inning, Brayan Pena — inserted for the injured Alex Avila — got ahead 3-0 in the count. Lester threw strike one before getting Pena to weakly tap one back to the mound. Lester fired to second but was way off target, but Drew was able to lean back, make the catch, tap the base and fire to first. His throw was in the dirt, but Napoli made the scoop look easy for the inning-ending double play.
Lester, as you can imagine, was fired up, and the Sox keep that 4-0 lead intact through four. It at the very least saved Lester from throwing more pitches, and he’s at 65 through four innings.
Middle 4th, 4-0 Red Sox: David Ross is officially off Alex Avila’s Christmas card list.
After Ross ran over Avila two innings ago, he stepped up in the fourth and hit a foul tip that rocked Avila right in the mask. Avila shook it off, but he’s having a rough night back there.
Ross ended up singling to left field, his second hit of the night, which qualifies as quite the shocker. Ross had just four multi-hit games all year long, so he picked a good time to break out.
It didn’t amount to anything though, as Ellbury hit a hot shot to second base, and Iglesias’ hard throw and Fielder’s nice scoop were enough to turn an inning-ending double play.
End 3rd, 4-0 Red Sox: Lester makes short work of the Tigers in the third. Hunter’s at-bat lasted just three pitches and ended in a ground out to third, Cabrera struck out looking on five pitches and Fielder grounded out to short in a one-pitch at-bat.
Lester is in decent shape, at 47 pitches through three innings.
Middle 3rd, 4-0 Red Sox: Mike Napoli is a streaky hitter, and he’s going hot right now. He sent a high changeup from Sanchez down the left field line for a one-out ground-rule double. He advanced to third base on a Gomes ground out to the pitcher, and he scored on a wild pitch with two outs and two strikes to Stephen Drew.
It would have been a bigger inning for Boston if not for an insane catch by Jose Iglesias to rob David Ortiz of a hit to lead off the inning. Ortiz sent a sky-high pop-up into shallow left field, and Iglesias bolted all the way from the other side of the bag to make a sweeping catch with his glove that probably zero other MLB shortstops make. It was quite the play, and it likely saved some runs for the Tigers.
End 2nd, 3-0 Red Sox: Jon Lester keeps the Tigers from cutting into the lead right away, getting two quick outs from Infante and Avila (who may be out of it after getting bowled over by David Ross). One of those outs wasn’t so easy, as Jonny Gomes initially broke in on Avila’s fly ball to left before having to make an incredible recovery by going back to make the catch just in front of the warning track.
After a single by Austin Jackson, Lester won the battle with Jose Iglesias, getting the shortstop to chase a pitch in the dirt for the final out of the inning.
Middle 2nd, 3-0 Red Sox: It’s a different night in Detroit, that’s for sure.
Mike Napoli led off the inning with a solo homer on a fastball that he sent about 475 feet to center field. It was absolutely mashed, and it gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead. But that was just the beginning.
Miguel Cabrera, who’s having a bad night thus far, misplayed an easy ground ball off the bat of Jonny Gomes, allowing him to reach. Xander Bogaerts then showed the offensive potential that got him his spot in the lineup, doubling to left field. David Ross, the unlikeliest of candidates to hit a ball off the wall, did exactly that to bring home Gomes. Bogaerts should have scored on the play but made a base-running error by standing near the bag to tag instead of getting halfway to third.
It didn’t matter, because Ellsbury followed up with a line drive off the pitcher’s glove that just died in the middle of the infield. Bogaerts scored, and it was 3-0 Red Sox.
Victorino then hit a hard ground ball to Omar Infante at second base, and he fired home. Ross, perhaps still displeased with Cabrera’s forearm to the head in the first, went in full speed on Alex Avila. The catcher hung on to the ball for the out, but he was clearly shaken up. Any and all close plays at the plate are sure to be interesting the rest of the way in this series.
End 1st, 0-0: The game remains tied because Miguel Cabrera is not a very fast man. Cabrera was on second after a five-pitch walk, which Lester wasn’t too pleased about. He did hit the edge of the plate on two pitches that were called balls three and four, so he had a fair gripe.
Prince Fielder followed that up with a chopped single up the middle. Jhonny Peralta stepped up after a Victor Martinez flyout to center, and Peralta singled cleanly into left field. For whatever reason, Cabrera was given a green light to run home, and Gomes’ throw beat him by a good three steps.
Cabrera threw an elbow into David Ross’ face, but Ross held on and seemed to take pleasure in showing Cabrera that he still had it.
It was a foolish decision on the base paths for the Tigers, which was a theme of Game 1 as well, and it keeps the game tied 0-0.
Middle 1st, 0-0: The good news for the Red Sox is that Anibal won’t be throwing a no-hitter tonight, because Dustin Pedroia sent a two-out single through the hole on the left side for the game’s first hit.
Pedroia’s at-bat came after Shane Victorino batted left-handed for the first time in months. As he dealt with a hamstring injury all summer, he switched to being strictly a right-handed hitter. Yet he stepped up to bat lefty in the first, and he hit a broken bat grounder to first. Prince Fielder flipped to Sanchez for the out, which followed an Ellsbury swinging strikeout.
Top 1st, 0-0: Anibal Sanchez’s first pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury is a called strike on the outside edge, and Game 5 has begun.
8:05 p.m.: Just about time for baseball. Will the Sox get a hit before the ninth tonight?
6:31 p.m.: Here’s what manager John Farrell had to say about his decision to start Xander Bogaerts tonight at third base.
“As we talked about last night, the need for the potential for increased production from the left side of the infield. And then the brief number of at‑bats that Xander has had for us, he’s been very much under control, puts a good swing on the ball last night against [Joaquin] Benoit, has not expanded the strike zone,” Farrell said. “And I think more than anything, just the maturity that he shows and the offensive potential that he has, I felt like it was time to make a change.”
Farrell said that despite Middlebrooks’ struggles at the plate, it was no easy decision to pull the kid from the lineup.
“I wouldn’t expect him to be pleased with not being in the lineup today. That’s just who he is, and that’s the overriding attitude in our clubhouse,” Farrell said. “But for us to continue through this series and advance it’s going to take everyone on our roster to contribute in some form or fashion, and I would expect that Will would find his way back in the field in these remaining games, particularly in this series. In the conversation with him, yeah, he’s not real happy.”
And lastly, Farrell laid out his philosophy regarding managerial decisions, and the criticism that comes with making them.
“If you didn’t have thick skin and if you didn’t recognize that you’re in a position where scrutiny is going to come under play or you’re going to be under scrutiny, you’re probably in the wrong business. So I’m sure that there’s going to be something tonight that is going to come up that will be questioned and you fully expect that,” Farrell said. “But I think if you believe and trust in your process, the decisions that you make, then you can sleep a little bit more readily at night, and that’s what it goes back to. You’re not going to be right every time, and still I probably share some of the same view as Jim [Leyland] that this game will always be about the players. It’s not about me. It’s not about our coaches, even though we’re here for them. This is clearly centered on those guys between the lines.”
6:23 p.m.: It was a rainy day in Detroit, but it’s expected to be dry for tonight’s game. The big storm system has moved through the area, and it looks like smooth sailing tonight, provided the power stays on.
4 p.m.: Wednesday night was without a doubt a bad one for the Red Sox, but it’s officially in the past. It’s now tonight, where the Red Sox will try to beat the Tigers and take a 3-2 lead in the ALCS.
That will not be easy, just as nothing has been all series. Anibal Sanchez will be on the mound for the Tigers, and the Red Sox couldn’t muster a hit off him in Game 1. They did show patience in working a half-dozen walks, but Sanchez worked around them, struck out 12, and left the game after six no-hit innings.
Jon Lester was nearly as good, and he’ll try to match Sanchez tonight. Lester allowed one run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings.
The Boston lineup will look a little different tonight, with David Ross behind the plate for Lester and Xander Bogaerts in for Will Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks is just 4-for-23 this postseason, so infusing Bogaerts, who’s reached base on three of his four postseason plate appearances, might do them some good.
Here is the full Red Sox lineup for tonight:
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jonny Gomes, LF
Stephen Drew, SS
Xander Bogaerts, 3B
David Ross, C
— Jon Lester, P
Jonny Gomes is also back in the lineup for Boston. The good news with that is the Red Sox are 4-0 this postseason when Gomes plays, and just 1-4 when he doesn’t.
It’s gotta be that beard.
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