Peavy Gets Rocked, Tigers Get Even In ALCS

The Red Sox had the Tigers on the ropes. With a temperamental pitcher on the mound, and a seemingly desperate lineup shuffle by Tigers skipper Jim “Don’t call me Joe” Leyland, the Sox looked poised to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Then came a bases loaded walk, then a bobble that would have been a double-play, and like that the Tigers stung with a 7-3 rout that pulled the American League Championship Series even at two all.

Unlike the previous three games, the Sox threatened early against Doug Fister, as Dustin Pedroia didn’t hang around long to put a one in the hit column, dumping a two out single to right with two down in the first. David Ortiz was unable to do anything, and Boston had to be content with just ending a no-hitter while there was still some twilight in the sky.

Jake Peavy looked good in retiring the side in order in the first, but was absolutely unglued in the second. After a single and two straight walks, the Tigers had the bases juiced with no outs. One out later, Austin Jackson came up as the eighth man in the lineup, being bumped from his leadoff perch following a 3-33 slump (with 18 strikeouts that would fit in well in the Red Sox lineup) from his usual leadoff perch. So naturally, the control-conscious Peavy walked Jackson on four straight to force in a run, and begin a nasty chain of events that resulted in a 5-0 Tigers lead by the time the second came to a halt.

“It felt good to contribute to a win,” Jackson said, unconcerned about his drop in the lineup. “Just get a chance to go out there and not put so much pressure on yourself, just have fun.”

It was a frustrating night for the Red Sox batters, as they were finally able to make contact against Detroit, ending with 12 hits, including five for extra bases. However, only two hits came with men in scoring position, and the 5-0 early hole spelled doom for a team that was able to eek out two straight wins following brilliant efforts by the Tigers top two hurlers in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.

A Mike Napoli leadoff double in the second went for naught as Daniel Nava grounded to second, Jarrod Saltalamacchia fouled out, and the badly slumping Stephen Drew struck out looking. The inability to capitalize cost the Sox a chance to take the first lead of the game, setting up the disastrous bottom half that followed.

Tigers DH Victor Martinez led off the second with a single, followed by a four-pitch walk to Jhonny Peralta – who has arguably been the most consistent threat for Jim Leyland this postseason. Peavy looked ready to rebound, as he set up catcher Alex Avila at 1-2. Avila was able to work the count full, and earned an eight pitch walk for his efforts to load the bases for Omar Infante. Infante lineda 1-1 pitch to center that Jacoby Ellsbury made a brilliant catch on, preventing Martinez from scoring and bringing up the strikeout prone Austin Jackson.

You know the rest, Peavy looked unraveled as he delivered not only a rare third walk in an inning, but for the second time delivered one on four straight out of the zone as Martinez crossed the plate. Old friend Jose Iglesias then came up and smoked the first pitch he saw to second for what seemed an easy double-play to the sure-handed Pedroia. Pedroia couldn’t handle the bounce cleanly, and had to settle for just a force play at second as Peralta scored for a 2-0 Tigers advantage.

Following the botched play, Torii Hunter took full advantage by lacing a double down the left field line to score Avila and Iglesias, and Comerica Park reached decibel levels too high to chart. Struggling MVP-favorite Miguel Cabrera got in on the action with an RBI single that would be the last damage of the inning, but it was more than enough.

Peavy was pulled in the fourth following an Austin Jackson RBI hit that brought home Infante who had led off with a ground-rule double. Brandon Workman relieved Peavy, and allowed an RBI single to Cabrera to finish Peavy’s awful line at 3+ IP, 5H, 7ER, 3BB, 1K. The Tigers caught the Red Sox napping a bit as Cabrera stole second base, though nothing came of the surprising steal (Just 39 in his career including postseason play).

Austin Jackson had reason to be pumped, as his drop in the order resulted in a 2-2, 2BB, 2 RBI night.

Austin Jackson had reason to be pumped, as his drop in the order resulted in a 2-2, 2BB, 2 RBI night.

The Red Sox finally broke through in the sixth when Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia amassed three straight singles with one out in the inning, Salty’s driving home Napoli to make it 7-1. The Sox could have done more damage, but Drew struck out again and pinch-hitter Mike Carp grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the threat.

The Sox relief efforts were again solid, as the combination of Workman, Ryan Dempster, Franklin Morales and Felix Doubront gave up nothing to Detroit over a combined five innings.

Ellsbury went 4-5 in the game, finishing a homer shy of the cycle. He came around to score in the seventh when he led off with a single off lefty reliever Phil Coke. Shane Victorino doubled him home, but again no more damage could be inflicted as another runner was stranded in scoring position.

Xander Bogaerts relieved Will Midlebrooks at third and came through in his only at-bat in the ninth, leading off with a deep double to right that nearly left the yard. Bogaerts came home on Ellsbury’s fourth hit – a triple – to bring the Sox to within four runs at 7-3. Closer Joaquin Benoit got Victorino and Pedroia on back-to-back strikeouts, and exacted his revenge on David Ortiz (who had hit the game-tying grand slam in game two off Benoit) with a fly-out to end the game.

The Sox and Tigers get back to it Thursday night in a rematch of game one, with Jon Lester opposing Anibal Sanchez, who allowed no hits through six innings in game one while amassing 12 strikeouts.

Asked later if he would consider a similar lineup shakeup for his team, Sox manager John Farrell was non-committal.

“The one thing that we’ve maintained is a constant approach with the lineup and not creating further uncertainty,” Farrell said. “I think our guys have responded well to that.”

Maybe so John, but at this point, it’s hard to argue for starting Drew and Middlebrooks while not replacing one of them with Xander Bogaerts.

Inside the Game

-Dating to game four of the ALDS, the Red Sox have now struck out 10 or more times in five straight games.

-Tigers starter Doug Fister allowed just one earned run, the fifth straight game a Tigers starter allowed one run or fewer.

-Usually difficult to strike out Dustin Pedroia, he has now fanned eight times in eight postseason games.

-The Red Sox went just 2-16 with RISP.

Jay Coorey – Senior MLB Contributor – Title Town Sports

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