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Final, 5-2 Red Sox: Koji Uehara throws nothing but strikes, and the Red Sox are American League champions.
What a game, what a series.
Wednesday night, Game 1, Fenway Park. See you then.
End 8th, 5-2 Red Sox: Nothing in the eighth for Boston, but here comes Koji.
Avila, Infante and Jackson are due up for Detroit, and the Red Sox are just three outs away from reaching the World Series.
Middle 8th, 5-2 Red Sox: Craig Breslow made short work of the Tigers in the eighth, retiring Fielder (4-3), Martinez (K) and Kelly (4-3) in order.
The Red Sox are now just three outs away from the World Series. But they probably wouldn’t mind adding a few runs here in the bottom of the eighth, just for good measure.
End 7th, 5-2 Red Sox: Pedroia struck out and Ortiz grounded out to short to end the inning, but boy, the damage was already done.
Breslow is on to pitch to start the eighth, and Koji Uehara will likely be ready shortly.
Bottom 7th, 1 out, 5-2 Red Sox: Grand slam! Shane Victorino!
The guy was hitting .087 in this series and fell behind 0-2, but he mashed a Jose Veras offering over the Monster down the line in left for a grand slam that changes this game completely.
Wow. Fenway Park is at maximum volume right now. That was an incredible moment.
Bottom 7th, 1 out, 2-1 Tigers: Jose Iglesias has immense talent defensively, but he just botched a possible double play ball up the middle, setting up a bases loaded situation for Victorino with one out.
It may have been tough for Iglesias to turn two, given how fast Ellsbury is, but failing to even get one out by bobbling the ball was huge.
That’s why sports are sports. You really can’t predict ‘em.
Jose Veras is on to face Victorino and Pedroia.
Bottom 7th, 1 out, 2-1 Tigers: Jonny Gomes missed the game-tying home run by less than a foot. But he’ll take the double, which he hit in a 1-2 count to lead off the inning.
Up stepped Stephen Drew, who’s been unable to do much at all in the plate. And that continued, as he failed to get down a bunt on a 2-1 count and ended up striking out. And that’s why everyone wants him out of the lineup. It’s a delicate balance, clearly.
Xander Bogaerts stepped to the plate and in what is becoming typical Bogaerts fashion worked the count full before earning a walk to chase Scherzer and set up Ellsbury with another RBI opportunity. He came through last time, but this time he’ll be facing a lefty in Drew Smyly.
Middle 7th, 2-1 Tigers: That is why Stephen Drew remains in John Farrell’s lineup.
Cabrera sent a grounder back through the middle on Tazawa’s second pitch, and it looked like it might be trouble. But Drew made a diving stab and then hopped to his feet to fire to first to beat the slow Cabrera with time to spare.
Would Bogaerts have made the play? Who knows, but Farrell does know that Drew made it, and that’s why he remains in the lineup despite the struggles at the plate.
The Red Sox have Gomes, Drew and Bogaerts coming up in the bottom of the seventh. Only nine outs to work with now.
It would be worth wondering if Middlebrooks may be used to pinch hit for Drew, but if Scherzer is still in the game, that wouldn’t be the best time for it.
Top 7th, 2 outs, 2-1 Tigers: The Red Sox should be out of this inning, but Brandon Workman dropped the ball after fielding Torii Hunter’s two-out bunt, and instead, Junichi Tazawa will come on with two on and two outs here in the seventh.
It’s already been quite the eventful inning. After Infante flew out to center, Jackson singled on a line drive up the middle. But Workman caught Jackson leaning the wrong way and picked him off for a huge second out.
Workman should have been out of the inning when Iglesias followed it up with a ground ball that would have been a routine out to second. But Workman got his glove on it and essentially made it sit right in the middle of the infield where nobody could get it, giving Iglesias an infield hit.
Now it’s Tazawa vs. Cabrera. Hold onto your hats.
End 6th, 2-1 Tigers: The Red Sox had their chance, with two on and nobody out again, but they get absolutely nothing out of it.
After Victorino was hit by a pitch and Pedroia walked on five pitches, David Ortiz stepped to the plate. But Ortiz, who’s struggled this series aside from the grand slam in Game 2, flew out to left field. (Don Kelly made a catch that Peralta likely wouldn’t have in left field. Point to Leyland.)
Up stepped Napoli, and the runners advanced to third and second on a wild pitch. Needing just a fly ball to tie the game, Napoli couldn’t do it, and he struck out with a feeble swing on a pitch darting toward the dirt.
Saltalamacchia came up with two outs, and he popped out to shortstop to end the inning. Another lost opportunity for Boston.
Workman is back on the mound for the Red sox.
Middle 6th, 2-1 Tigers: Workman was indeed able to get that ground ball, and Prince Fielder did indeed try to score. Well, sort of. Pedroia fielded the chopper from Peralta and took two steps forward, ready to fire home after Fielder broke from third. Pedroia was able to force Martinez out of the base paths for a tag out and then fired home with Fielder standing still between third and home.
Saltalamacchia, who isn’t exactly Usain Bolt, chased down Fielder, who belly-flopped on a diving attempt to third base and was tagged out. It was as bad a base running play as you can see, but it’s to be expected with Fielder.
Peralta took second on the rundown, leaving Workman to face Avila with two outs. Workman got Avila to look at strike three go by to limit the damage at 2-1.
Great job by Workman. Awful job by Morales. On to the bottom of the sixth.
(Don Kelly entered the game for Jhonny Peralta on the base paths. Curious move by Leyland, as Peralta’s been perhaps Detroit’s most dangerous hitter this series.)
Top 6th, 0 out, 2-1 Tigers: Franklin Morales just put forth one of the worst pitching performances you’ll ever see in baseball.
He threw four straight balls to Prince Fielder and didn’t even come close on any of them. Up stepped Victor Martinez, and Farrell should have seen that Morales had absolutely nothing out there on the mound. Yet the manager let the lefty face Martinez, and the DH made the Red Sox pay by smoking a ball off the Monster in left to drive in two runs and give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
Brandon Workman’s now on, still with nobody out and with runners on the corners. Fielder probably won’t break home on a ground ball, because he’s probably the slowest player in the league, so a ground ball would do Workman and the Red Sox a lot of good.
Buchholz’s line: 5 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2BB, 4 SO.
Top 6th, 1-0 Red Sox: After being given a 1-0 lead, Buchholz didn’t handle it well, and his night is now done.
He walked Torii Hunter to lead off the inning and then gave up a sharply hit single to Cabrera that made its way through the left side of the infield.
Franklin Morales is now on with the task of trying to keep this 1-0 lead intact. He’ll face Prince Fielder with two on and nobody out.
Buchholz threw 85 pitches, 56 for strikes, and is sitting uncomfortably in the dugout hoping those runners don’t make their way around the bases.
End 5th, 1-0 Red Sox: The Red Sox have struck first, and they did it all with a two-out rally that began with yet another great at-bat by Xander Bogaerts.
The rookie fell behind 1-2 and then patiently worked the count full. With the crowd risen to its feet, he then turned on a 93 mph offering from Scherzer and crushed it deep to left-center field on a line. It would have been a homer in most ballparks, but Fenway’s got that big ol’ wall you may have heard about. The ball bounced off the Monster right near the Boston Strong logo, and Bogaerts cruised into second with a double.
Fenway sensed blood in the water, and Ellsbury made this place erupt with an RBI single to right field that scored Bogaerts ahead of Hunter’s throw to the plate.
Ellsbury got caught stealing to end the inning on an iffy call, but the Sox are on the board. Let’s see how Clay pitches with the lead here in the sixth.
Middle 5th, 0-0: Dustin Pedroia finds himself on a much more preferable end of a double play in the fifth, this time fielding a ground ball from Iglesias near the second base bag, taking a step to his left to tag the bag and firing to first to just beat Iglesias at first base for an inning-ending double play.
Austin Jackson had worked a one-out walk following a ground out by Omar Infante, but he was erased on the double play, which prevented the Tigers from turning the lineup over in the fifth.
Buchholz has done a great job of managing his pitch count after it looked to be a potential problem early on. He’s at 74 through five, which has him in position to at least pitch into the seventh.
End 4th, 0-0: Max Scherzer isn’t having too many problems tonight, and he sat them down quickly in the fourth.
David Ortiz popped out on the first pitch of the inning, and Napoli and Saltalamacchia both went down swinging. Scherzer needed just nine pitches to get through the inning, and he’s at 63 through four.
Scherzer and Buchholz, two of the AL’s best, are living up to the bill tonight.
Middle 4th, 0-0: Clay Buchholz is rolling along, with a little help from his shortstop. Victor Martinez hit what could have been a two-bagger, but Stephen Drew was positioned perfectly to make a leaping catch on a laser that was headed for left-center field for the first out of the inning.
Buchholz then induced a routine ground out to shortstop for the second out, before Alex Avila grounded out to Bogaerts in the shortstop hole with the shift on.
After needing 20 pitches to get through each of the first two innings, Buchholz threw 10 pitches in the third and 11 in the fourth.
End 3rd, 0-0: What a huge swing in this game. After Pedroia missed a three-run homer by about three inches, he ends up grounding into a 5-3 double play to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.
The big missed opportunity there wasn’t in the decision to have Victorino bunt, but in the lack of execution by Victorino. You simply cannot pop that bunt up, and it’s what led to that squandered opportunity. Victorino hasn’t been able to do anything at the plate this series, as he’s now 2-for-23. That’s an .087 average, and it is ugly.
Bottom 3rd, 1 out, 0-0: Shane Victorino popped up a bunt with two on and nobody out, and Fenway was very sad. Dustin Pedroia then stepped up and hit what looked to be a three-run home run to left field, and Fenway was very happy.
But then it was called a foul, and Fenway was upset again.
The umpires are currently reviewing the play, but it looks like the ball did pass in front of the foul pole. UPDATE: It was ruled foul after replay review.
The Sox got two men on via walk, first Xander Bogaerts and then Jacoby Ellsbury.
Here’s a thought on Xander Bogaerts from beloved former Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler.
Fun to compare XB to Yasiel Puig. Both guys w undeniable physical gifts, Puig's undoubtedly more electrifying. I'll take patience, bball IQ.—
gabe kapler (@gabekapler) October 20, 2013
When’s Gabe going to throw out the first pitch?
Middle 3rd, 0-0: That’s a much better inning for Buchholz, who surrendered a leadoff single to Iglesias but got Hunter to fly out on just one pitch in the next at-bat. Buchholz then got Cabrera to go down swinging with a changeup low and away before getting Fielder to ground out to first to end the inning. As badly as some Red Sox are going, Prince Fielder may be going worse than anyone this series. He just can’t hit anything at all right now.
It was a 10-pitch inning for Buchholz.
End 2nd, 0-0: Max Scherzer is pretty good at his job. He just got Saltalamacchia to strike out swinging on five pitches, Gomes to go down swinging on three pitches, and Drew to strike out swinging on five pitches. He threw just three balls all inning.
If Farrell is going to be questioned for anything, it may be starting Gomes over Nava tonight. A three-pitch strikeout by Gomes is a good way to make that part of postgame conversation, if it comes to that.
Middle 2nd, 0-0: We don’t know who is going to win tonight, but we do already know that this game is going to take a while.
Buchholz retired Peralta and Avila quickly, but things slowed down when he allowed a soft flare to right field by Infante. Pedroia tried to make a leaping catch but came up a few inches short. Buchholz then got Austin Jackson to make some weak contact, and Buchholz ran to his right and fired a strike to first for the third out.
Buchholz is at 40 pitches through two innings, which is something he’ll want to try to improve he wants to work deep into tonight’s game.
End 1st, 0-0: The Red Sox didn’t score in the first, but they still did a lot of good after it looked like Scherzer was picking up where he left off last Sunday. Scherzer struck out Ellsbury in just three pitches, and then got Victorino to ground out to shortstop in just three pitches. Scherzer then got ahead of Pedroia 0-2, and it looked like the Sox would be back on the field after a very brief half-inning.
Yet Pedroia took two balls before singling through the left side, and David Ortiz worked the count full before taking a walk. Mike Napoli then stepped up and, not surprisingly, didn’t get any fastballs anywhere near the plate. He couldn’t get a hit, as he grounded out to shortstop, but the Sox did force Scherzer to work a bit and get his pitch count up to 21. They also got a rest for Buchholz, who had to work quite a bit in that first inning.
Middle 1st, 0-0: Clay Buchholz was deliberate, and he may have been too concerned with Torii Hunter on first base, but he was also pretty darn good in the first inning.
After Hunter reached on an infield single between third and short, Buchholz went to work. He got Miguel Cabrera to go down swinging at a 92 mph fastball on the outside edge, and he got Prince Fielder to do the same on a 92 mph fastball that was up and away to the lefty. With two outs, Buchholz got ahead of Martinez 0-2 before eventually getting the DH to fly out to center field to end the inning.
Buchholz did need a lot of pitches to get through the inning, with his pitch count at 22 after the first. He also threw over to first base five times to check on Torii Hunter, who had all of three steals on five attempts this season. That was straight out of the rookie playbook from Buchholz, but given the outcome of the inning, the Red Sox will take it.
Ellsbury, Victorino and Pedroia are coming up for the Sox, and they’ll be looking to have their best at-bats of the year. If they’re going to get it done tonight, I think they’d prefer starting early.
Top 1st, 0-0: Clay Buchholz’s first pitch to Torii Hunter is right down the pipe for strike one, and Game 6 is officially under way here at Fenway Park. Here we go.
8 p.m.: The Red Sox are pulling out all the stops tonight. The Dropkick Murphys were here to perform the national anthem, and now they’re putting on a live performance of “Shipping Up To Boston.” It’s a bit unorthodox for a baseball game, but hey, the crowd’s into it.
7:58 p.m.: We’ve seen Nomar Garciaparra, and we’ve seen Dave Roberts, and now the Red Sox have Bill Mueller at Fenway to throw out the first pitch of the game. Mueller, the 2003 AL batting champion, threw to David Ortiz. The real first pitch is now just minutes away.
7:41 p.m.: We’re closing in on game time, the seats are filling up and the park is buzzing. It’s definitely been cool watching it all build up over the past few hours.
There’s a chill to the air but I don’t think it could really be considered cold. It’s 59 degrees out right now, and it should drop a few degrees as the night goes on. But it’s October baseball in Boston, and that’s to be expected.
5:48 p.m.: Just took in some Red Sox batting practice down on the field, and they seem to be a loose yet focused bunch. Jacoby Ellsbury in particular had his game face on early, but the Sox overall didn’t seem tense but also didn’t appear to be doing much goofing. They’ve got a job to do tonight, and they don’t want to put anything off for tomorrow.
Clay Buchholz certainly didn’t look like a nervous man either, as he stood and chatted with Will Middlebrooks at second base. They could have been talking about anything, but with Middlebrooks unhappily riding the pine for the second straight game, tonight’s starting pitcher might have been imparting some of the wisdom he gained during his up-and-down first few seasons in the league.
Manager John Farrell also had some pregame comments.
On Xander Bogaerts managing his nerves: “It’s been really fun to see, actually. The smile on his face never goes away. There’s never the look on his face, there’s no deer in the headlights, any kind of those descriptions you might come up with. He’s a very mature and poised young man.”
On the approach to Max Scherzer the second time around: “There’s a recent outing against him, some familiarity, even though he dominated us in the seven innings he was in there. I know one thing, come that first pitch our guys are going to be ready. It’s just a matter of how consistent his stuff is. We know we’re going to get powerful stuff thrown at us.”
On managing the bullpen tonight: “There’s probably five guys that can go one‑plus innings, and Koji [Uehara] is available for that tonight. So I don’t want to go into tonight playing for tomorrow, either.”
And here’s what Jim Leyland had to say.
On whether he’ll speak to the Tigers prior to the game: “No, I don’t really do that so much. I might say something to the players individually, but I don’t really have a meeting or anything. We’re a long way into the season now. They know what’s at stake here, and they know if we want to move on we’ve got to win tonight. There’s no special speeches or anything. Just enjoy it and leave it on the field and see what happens.”
On whether he changes his managing style in an elimination game: “No, I don’t do anything different. We just had an elimination game last week with Oakland. If we didn’t win we were eliminated. So we’ve got three Game 5′s in the LDS, the last three times we were there. We were fortunate enough to win them. No, there’s no secret to this. You’ve got your team. They’ve got their team. You’re going to play a game. You don’t want to downplay it, obviously it’s a huge game. But it’s another baseball game with a lot of significance.”
4:45 p.m.: It’s a huge night here at Fenway Park, as a trip to the World Series can be one right here in a matter of hours.
Jim Leyland and his Detroit Tigers, however, don’t plan on letting that happen, and we’ll see the two best teams in the American League battle it out tonight in Game 6 of the ALCS.
The odds are in the Red Sox’ favor of earning a trip to the Fall Classic, as something like 75 percent of teams in history have ended up winning the series when they’ve won Game 5 and head home with a 3-2 series lead. However, none of those teams faced a challenge quite like the possibility of facing VerSherzerLander in Games 6 and 7.
That’s obviously a monstrous nickname for the two-headed pitching threat of Max Scherzer, who will win the AL Cy Young this year, and Justin Verlander, who’s been the best pitcher in baseball for four years. It won’t be easy for the Red Sox, but then again, nothing has for them in this series or the whole year for that matter.
Whatever happens, it’ll all be right here in the live blog.
For starters, here are … the starters:
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
7. Jonny Gomes, LF
8. Stephen Drew, SS
9. Xander Bogaerts, 3B
1. Torii Hunter, RF
2. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
3. Prince Fielder, 1B
4. Victor Martinez, DH
5. Jhonny Peralta, LF
6. Alex Avila, C
7. Omar Infante, 2B
8. Austin Jackson, CF
9. Jose Iglesias, SS
For the Sox and John Farrell, it would have been impossible to sit down Xander Bogaerts. And with Stephen Drew’s defense up the middle still incredibly valuable, it’s Will Middlebrooks who gets the tough-luck benching. It’s notable that Napoli is in there too, as he didn’t get the start against Scherzer in Game 2. But with the way he’s hitting bombs, I don’t think there was any way to keep him out tonigtht.
For the Tigers, Alex Avila is back after getting run over and beaten up in Game 5. He’s a catcher, and catchers are tough, so you shouldn’t be surprised by that.
I’ll have some pregame comments from the managers to pass along shortly.
Stay tuned all night long, because tonight is sure to be a good one.