This is what Red Sox Nation feared. Jon Lester put his best foot forward and the Red Sox offense went missing. Now, the team finds itself in a 1-0 hole in the ALCS with Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander on tap for the Tigers.
For two offenses that finished first and second in Major League Baseball in five of the seven top offensive categories, Saturday night’s 1-0 affair wasn’t quite expected. Pitching usually is what carries a team through the postseason and typically trumps offense, but Boston and Detroit were nowhere near their offense prowess in Game 1.
Certainly things can change quickly, but if the Red Sox want to head to Detroit without the thought of being swept, they have to turn it around ASAP. Clay Buchholz looks to follow Lester’s performance and improve on his own this season. Buchholz went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA, while pitching six innings of three-run ball in Game 3 of the ALDS. Each of Buchholz’ last four starts have been quality starts and Boston hopes to get a fifth tonight, if not better.
Here is the Red Sox lineup tonight (first pitch – 8:15 pm EDT; TV – FOX):
1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Victorino, RF
3. Pedroia, 2B
4. Ortiz, DH
5. Carp, 1B
6. Gomes, LF
7. Saltalamacchia, C
8. Drew, SS
9. Middlebrooks, 3B
Scherzer was the winningest pitcher in baseball this season with a 21-3 record and a 2.90 ERA. He added to that with two wins in the ALDS against Oakland. In Game 1, Scherzer went seven innings and allowed two runs on three hits with 11 strikeouts. He came on in relief in Game 4 to pitch two innings, allowing one run on three hits. He did, however, pitch out of a bases loaded, no outs situation that fired up his team and propelled the Tigers to victory, setting up their Game 5 clincher.
Saturday looked oddly familiar
In Game 1 of the 2004 ALCS, Mike Mussina pitched six perfect innings against the Boston Red Sox before the Yankees wound up holding on for an 8-6 win. That led to New York taking a 3-0 lead on the heels of a 19-8 victory at Fenway Park.
I know the scenarios are vastly different, but the reality is there is no need to panic after last night’s near no-hit bid by Anibal Sanchez. Boston has proven time and time again this season that it can bounce back when faced with adversity and we fully expect the same going forward in this ALCS.
No Mike Napoli. No Daniel Nava. No David Ross. That’s a third of the Game 1 lineup out. Mike Carp, Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will fill in, just as they have numerous times before this season. This is nothing new. Manager John Farrell is looking to shake up a lineup that produced one hit and it keeps the lineup and bench balanced with lefties and righties available.
Expect small ball
Runners need to get on base any way they can, and the Red Sox put some on via walks Saturday. However, those runners need to be advanced. With Scherzer on the hill, expect Farrell to implement his small ball strategy. The Red Sox will (should) bunt, steal, hit-and-run, and manufacture a run any way they can tonight.
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