Get the Athlon Sports Newsletter
The Tigers need to win last game in Detroit before series moves back to Boston.
American League Championship Series – Game 5
Boston at Detroit
8:07 ET Fox
Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75) vs. Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57)
Manager Jim Leyland’s lineup shift paid dividends for Detroit in Game 4, evening the series at 2-2. The veteran manager moved leadoff hitter Austin Jackson down to No. 8 and the Red Sox couldn’t get him out. With 12 hits, Boston showed signs of emerging from its own offensive funk. Jacoby Ellsbury led the way with four hits, a home run shy of a cycle. The remaining three games should feature the same pitching matchups as the first three games, which were dominated by starting pitchers on both sides. Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez was seen leaving the mound after six no-hit innings in Game 1. Boston’s Jon Lester was fairly sharp as well, allowing only one run after a walk, hit-by-pitch and soft single.
Keys for Detroit
In some ways, this game is much more critical for the Tigers than for the Red Sox. Going back to Boston down a game versus up a game could be huge for Detroit. The lineup must continue to produce like last night, but the difference between last night and Game 2 was that the Detroit relievers were able to hold on to a big lead. The Tigers can’t afford another bullpen meltdown.
Keys for Boston
After much was made over David Ortiz’s grand slam in Game 2 and how clutch he seems to be in the postseason, that game-turning home run remains his lone hit in this series. Without him contributing, it’s extremely difficult for the Sox to win. The bottom of the order needs to perk up as well. Starters in the 7-8-9 spots are 6-for-35 (.171) in this series with two walks and 14 strikeouts.
Tigers to Watch
Jackson struggled through the first three games, reaching base only twice in 14 plate appearances and striking out five times, not numbers you want from a leadoff hitter. He drew a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded in his first time up, then chased starter Jake Peavy with a single in his next at-bat. Another single and an eight-pitch walk followed to cap his perfect night.
Red Sox to Watch
With Ellsbury getting on base consistently, it’s time for Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz to step up their games. Boston expects more run production from the middle of the order, but Pedroia and Ortiz have combined for just four hits and five RBIs, with four of those coming on one swing from Big Papi.
With essentially every player moving up a spot in the order, last night’s game was the first in the leadoff position for Torii Hunter since his days with the Twins in 1999…Miguel Cabrera batted second for only the third time in his career, and first since 2004 when he was a member of the Florida Marlins…Jackson now has a better OBP (.231) in this postseason than Hunter (.225), who will bat leadoff again tonight for the Tigers…With nine this postseason, Ellsbury has scored 25 percent of Boston’s runs…Since Detroit acquired Sanchez from Miami midway through 2012, the Tigers are 13-7 when he starts at home, including 10-4 this season…The Red Sox lost 12 of Lester’s 20 road starts this season.