While the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers set the stage in regards to elite pitching earlier today in Game 2 of their NLCS, both the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox continued the trend this evening as they opened up their American League Championship Series.
But could they top it? They damn sure got close as the Tigers were just two outs away from throwing the first combined no-hitter in Major League Baseball postseason history and just the third postseason no-hitter overall. It also would have become the first road no-hitter in postseason history along with the first ever in LCS play.
More than just top notch pitching was the historic nature of what took place tonight, namely from Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez. The American League ERA leader was seemingly breaking records left and right, starting with striking out four Boston Red Sox hitters in the first inning, becoming the first Detroit Tiger to ever do such and the second overall to do so in the postseason (the first coming from Orval Overall of the Chicago Cubs in the 1908 World Series). As if that wasn’t enough, Sanchez, who struck out twelve hitters, left the game after the sixth inning – yet to give up a hit. With his removal, the native Venezuelan will go down in postseason history as the player having thrown the most innings without giving up a hit before being removed. Sanchez also shared some of the glory with his teammates as he and Justin Verlander, who tossed six plus innings of no-hit ball against the Oakland Athletics in Game 5 of the NLDS, became the first teammates in postseason history to toss back-to-back no-hitters of at least six innings.
Needless to say, it was quite a special night for the 29-year-old pitcher.
That said, Red Sox starter Jon Lester, while not as impressive still held his own, only giving up a single run in his 6.1 innings of work. Unlike Sanchez, who despite giving up no hits, walked six, Lester’s command was on point this evening, walking just one.
The lone mistake Lester made came courtesy of the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta, who hit a bloop into center field that dropped just feet in front of the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury who did everything he could to make a catch. The RBI single allowed Miguel Cabrera to score, who, you guessed it, walked earlier in the inning.
As for Boston’s normally strong offense, they were shut down by the Tigers’ pitching staff all night, obviously – striking out 17 times. They were also staring the wrong side of history in the face until the bottom of the ninth inning when Daniel Nava, with one out in the inning, singled to center field, ending the 8 1/3 innings of no hit ball thrown by the Tigers pitching staff.
Things got dicey for Detroit after Nava’s single as Quintin Berry pinch ran and with two outs, stole second, putting him (the tying run) in scoring position. Unfortunately for Boston, rookie Xander Bogaerts, who stretched out a 3-2, two out at-bat with Berry in scoring position, popped up to end the game.