Where: Fenway Park, Boston
When: 8:07 PM, ET – Fox
Series record: 1-0, Detroit
After having to use both Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in Game 4 and Game 5 of their NLDS against the Oakland Athletics, things couldn’t have aligned worse for the Detroit Tigers as they opened up the 2013 American League Championship Series. On the flip side, Boston, who smashed their way through the Tampa Bay Rays in just four games, was able to align their pitching rotation perfectly with ace Jon Lester on the mound at home. Perfect scenario for the Red Sox, right?
Sure – but that was assuming they could win, which they were unable to do after Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez kept them without a hit until he departed in the sixth inning. Sanchez was effectively wild, striking out twelve but walking six in his six innings of work.
The Detroit bullpen picked up where Sanchez left off, keeping Boston off the board (both runs and hits), though closer Joaquin Benoit did allow a ninth inning single which not only broke up the no-hitter but put the game tying run in scoring position after a stolen base. The Tigers were able to avoid disaster though as that runner was stranded on second base come the final out.
So now Boston sits with the task of salvaging Game 2, hoping for a split before they pack up and head to Motown for Games 3, 4 and 5.
Looking to do just that will be Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz who has yet to face the Tigers this season. Buchholz, who missed a large chunk of the season went 12-1 this year, posting an extremely impressive 1.99 ERA at Fenway Park during his nine home starts. He’s also found some success against the heart of the Detroit lineup, holding Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter and Prince Fielder to a combined 9 for 54 for their careers.
Opposing Buchholz will be the aforementioned Max Scherzer, who is coming off two relief innings in Game 4 of the Tigers’ NLDS against the Oakland Athletics. The 23-win Scherzer was downright filthy against the Red Sox this season, giving up just four runs in 14 innings of work, good for a 2.57 ERA including a win at Fenway Park.
A loss for Boston would force the Red Sox to win four of the next five, not the most enviable position so while not officially categorized as a ‘must-win’, it’s about as close as you could get. Meanwhile, Detroit will look to return home (where they’ll play the next three games) with a 2-0 stranglehold on the series.