October 15, 2013

ALCS3: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0

Red Sox - 000 000 100 - 1  4  0
Tigers  - 000 000 000 - 0  6  1

John Lackey (6.2-4-0-0-8, 98) outdueled Justin Verlander (8-4-1-1-1-10, 120) and Mike Napoli hit a solo home run as the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the ALCS on Tuesday afternoon.

When Napoli walked to the plate with one out in the seventh inning, he was 0-for-6 in the series, with six strikeouts. He worked the count full and then got the barrel of the bat on a high fastball, Verlander's 100th pitch of the day. The first ball Napoli put into play in the ALCS went out to deep left, finally landing in the Boston bullpen. (The home run was the first run Verlander had allowed in his last 34 innings, dating back to September 18.)

After Lackey departed in the bottom of the seventh with a man on first and two outs, the Red Sox bullpen was superb in the clutch. Detroit put two runners on base in the seventh and eighth innings and the leadoff man on in the ninth, but Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara repelled all threats.

Lackey allowed two of his four hits in the first inning, when Torii Hunter singled with one out and went to third when Prince Fielder singled with two outs. Lackey bore down and got Victor Martinez to fly out to center, ending a seven-pitch at-bat - and the early threat.

Lackey struck out two Tigers in both the second and third innings, part of a stretch of retiring ten batters in a row through the end of the fourth. Jhonny Peralta opened the fifth with a double to the gap in left-center. Alex Avila's grounder to second moved Peralta to third. Again, Lackey tightened in the pinches. He battled Omar Infante for eight pitches and struck him out swinging, and got John Dirks on a first-pitch grounder to second.

For the Red Sox, it was much the same in the early innings as it had been in Games 1 and 2: no hits and a lot of strikeouts. Verlander retired 14 of the first 15 batters, fanning eight of them. He walked David Ortiz to begin the second, but then struck out the side, getting Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Jonny Gomes all swinging. Then Verlander struck out Stephen Drew, Will Middlebrooks, and Jacoby Ellsbury in the third. (The six consecutive strikeouts tied a postseason record.)

After Verlander fanned the first two batters in the fifth, Boston collected its first hit, a soft single up the middle from Gomes. He was stranded at first, however. Ellsbury singled with one down in the sixth and advanced to second on a two-out wild pitch, but Dustin Pedroia grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.

With a 1-0 lead, Lackey retired Prince Fielder on a line drive to Gomes, who made a tumbling catch in left. Martinez singled up the middle and Peralta flied out to right. Manager John Farrell came out to make a change, which seemed to both shock and anger Lackey. Breslow came in and walked Avila on five pitches. With runners on first and second, he got Infante to ground to Pedroia, who flipped to Drew for an inning-ending fielder's choice.

Breslow started the seventh by striking out Dirks on three pitches and walking Austin Jackson. Farrell called on Tazawa (it looked like Uehara was also ready, if needed). Hunter lined a single to right, with Shane Victorino cutting the ball off before it went into the corner; Jackson sprinted to third.

First and third, one out, with Miguel Cabrera and Fielder due up, in a one-run game.

Tazawa threw nothing but heat at Cabrera: the Detroit slugger swung and missed a 94 mph heater, chased a fastball away at 95, laid off another outside fastball, then whiffed on 94 just a bit outside of the zone. With two outs, Farrell brought in Uehara, who needed only three pitches to dispense with Fielder and the Tigers' threat. Fielder fouled a ball to the screen, lunging at and missed an outside fastball, and swung over a splitter at 81 that dropped off the table.

Two strikeouts, on seven pitches!

In the bottom of the ninth, Martinez lined a single to left-center and Hernan Perez pinch-ran. Uehara got what looked like a gift called strike on a low 1-1 pitch to Peralta, and on his next offering, Peralta grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Uehara used seven pitches (six of them splitters) to strike out Avila to secure the victory.

(After the Red Sox batted in the second, the game was delayed 17 minutes because of a power outage.)
John Lackey / Justin Verlander
Ellsbury, CF
Victorino, RF
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Napoli, 1B
Saltalamacchia, C
Gomes, LF
Drew, SS
Middlebrooks, 3B
Doug Miller, MLB.com:
Game 1 was crazy and Game 2 was even crazier, so if the American League Championship Series keeps this up, there's no telling what kind of full-on insanity might take place on Tuesday afternoon in Game 3 at Comerica Park. ...

"Complete change of momentum," Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks said. "That's exactly what it is."
Steve Buckley, Herald:
The face of the franchise has a gap-toothed smile and an enduring flair for the dramatic. If Ortiz' grand slam Sunday night was the not the greatest moment in Red Sox postseason history, it sure was the most clutch. ...

What we saw was a guy who gets better when the moment gets bigger. What we saw was a player who doesn't just enjoy the attention of being a Red Sox star — he likes the pressure, the steaming cauldron of intensity that is Fenway in October. No one is better in that moment, no one has ever been better in that moment, than David Americo Ortiz. This is our (expletive) city, he once declared, and this is his (expletive) time.

In 52 postseason plate appearances in close and late situations, Ortiz has a .538 on-base percentage and an OPS of 1.282 ...
Justin Verlander:
I've seen some pitches that he got hit on that were strikes. I just think whoever is the home plate umpire needs to be aware that he's up there. Anything on the inner half, occasionally he's looking to get hit.
Shane Victorino:
It's not like the umpires don't know that I'm close to the plate. ... The only part that disappointments me is (Verlander) thinks I'm getting hit by strikes. If he can prove to me and show me which one he thought was a strike, that was a legitimate strike that I got hit on, then . . . I'm not mad.
Victorino is now the first batter to be hit by a pitch five times in a single postseason. ... The Tigers became the first team to record two games of 16-plus strikeouts in a single postseason (16 in ALDS1, 17 in ALCS1).

How unlikely was Boston's Game 2 comeback? Teams leading by 5+ runs in the postseason had been 459-14 (.970). ... The Red Sox became only the sixth team in postseason history to overcome a four-run deficit in the eighth inning or later to win.


Tom DePlonty said...

Fun factoid in Extra Bases - the Ortiz slam is the first time in the postseason that four different pitchers were charged with a run on the same play.

Michael said...

WOW. Lackey - W. Verlander - L. So that happened.
Unbelievable performance from John. Tazawa right on the money with the perhaps the biggest K of the series so far. Koji being Koji.
And Mike Napoli!

What a game.

9casey said...

Great win. The Tigers have no depth. When Iggy is the only pinch hitter you bring up in that game.

We had a .300 hitter , a upcoming rookie, and a catcher with some pop, all on the bench.

allan said...

Peavy, on the Ortiz GS: "They just inducted him into the Hall of Fame. I thought we should have had an induction ceremony yesterday after that. That just solidifies this guy's legacy. He's a stud and has a flair for the dramatic, and wants to be in that situation."

Kathryn said...

By the way, I LOVE John Lackey! ;)

allan said...

What's not to love?

Boston's improvement from 69 to 97 wins was remarkable, but even more so is Lackey's change from most hated man in Boston to stud and ace.

allan said...

Two tweets from the Herald's Scott Lauber:

Pedroia on Lackey: "Lack kind of finally figured out that we're only going to give him one run. He should have learned from the whole year."

Ortiz: "We're having dinner last night and (Lackey) didn't say a word. He's been like that since last night. I was like, 'Damn, son.'"

Tom DePlonty said...

I was like, 'Damn, son.'

Fantastic. Here's hoping Peavy comes up just as big tomorrow. Go 3-1 and put them on the ropes.

hrstrat57 said...

Took a couple years but today's performance was exactly what the sawx had in mind when they signed Lackey.

Gritty, tough and able to execute pitches at the most difficult time.

Well played Mr. Lackey, well played indeed!!!

Koji is absolutely filthy!!!!

Tom DePlonty said...

Two tidbits on the SoSH game thread - another Lauber tweet:

Scott Lauber ‏@ScottLauber36m
Inside joke among #RedSox when weird stuff (like lights going out in ALCS) happens to them: "It's not going to work, Showalter," Peavy said.

The other (I didn't see this myself) is that when Fox interviewed Gomes, they wanted to talk to him about Verlander, and his response was something like "no, let's talk about my teammate, the *winning* pitcher..."