Who: Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox
Where: Fenway Park, Boston
When: 8:07 PM, ET – Fox
Series record: 0-0
While I won’t say the Boston Red Sox had an easy time defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in their Divisional Series win, I’m sure the Detroit Tigers would have much preferred their scenario. After winning the first two games in Boston, the Red Sox went to Tampa looking for a sweep – never facing elimination in any of their contests. The same couldn’t be said for Detroit, who after winning Game 1 of their ALDS against the Oakland Athletics was quickly put on the brink of elimination in both Game 4 and Game 5, but the Tigers refused to break countering every punch the Athletics dealt en route to their third consecutive American League Championship series.
Like their previous two trips to the ALCS, the Tigers will be forced to open on the road, this time at Fenway Park where they’ll meet the awaiting Red Sox. On the mound for Boston will be ace Jon Lester who was fantastic in his lone postseason start, Game 1 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays. Lester gave up just two earned runs in that contest, pitching nearly eight innings, striking out seven in the process. His splits against the Tigers haven’t been as pleasurable this year as Detroit has hit Lester around, giving up twenty baserunners in less than thirteen innings, allowing six of them to score, good for a 4.26 ERA.
Meanwhile for Detroit, they’ll counter with American League ERA leader Anibal Sanchez after using Max Scherzer in relief for Game 4 against Oakland and Justin Verlander in the winner-take-all Game 5. Sanchez did make a playoff start against the Tampa Bay Rays, though it’s one he’d like to forget as Tampa torched him for five earned runs in 4.1 innings of work, the lone loss for Boston this postseason.
If there is a potential advantage coming into Game 1 for the Tigers it’s that Sanchez has yet to face the Red Sox this season, so it may take a turn or two through the lineup for Boston to feel more comfortable against the Tigers starter. Sanchez has one career start against the Red Sox, which came all the way back in 2006. This will be his first career appearance at Fenway Park (at least on the mound).
In regards to head-to-head matchups, the Tigers won the season series against the Red Sox four games to three, though were outscored 35-43 in the process due to Boston’s 20-4 victory on September 4th. The Red Sox went 2-1 against the Tigers at Fenway Park during the 2013 regular season.