Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap.
Last night’s 1-0 loss for the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the ALCS was one of those times.
The Red Sox offense was overpowered by the work of the Detroit Tigers pitching staff to put it simply. Anibal Sanchez carved them up through 6 innings, allowing zero hits while mowing down 12 Red Sox batters. In fact, the Sox didn’t even grab their first hit until the bottom of the 9th inning, when Daniel Nava slapped a single to center field to avoid the no-no.
Jon Lester pitched a very good game, but it was overshadowed by Sanchez’s performance. Lester came out firing in the first few innings, reaching 96 mph on a few pitches. His fastball and cutter were sharp, and he was mixing in his curveball throughout the evening. He gave Boston a strong 6 1/3 innings, allowing only 1 run on 6 hits, but Sanchez was just that much better on this night. Home plate umpire Joe West was absolutely dreadful all night, but he was bad on both sides, so there’s no excuses from me on that front
Maybe it’s just me, but in the Tampa series, I felt like Boston could kind of sit on fastballs because the likes of David Price and Matt Moore didn’t really have their off-speed pitches working. With Detroit, that clearly isn’t going to be the case.
Sanchez threw his slider and change-up a combined 45.7% last night according to the pitch results on TexasLeaguers.com. The Sox could not pick either one up very well, resulting in a lot of swing-and-misses at pitches in the dirt, or out of the zone. Nothing was squared up, or even hit remotely hard by anyone in Boston’s line up, but that didn’t stop them from creating opportunities.
That’s what I love about this team. If you didn’t watch the game, you wouldn’t realize that the Sox, despite having one hit, had plenty of opportunities to get some runs on the board. They left 8 runners on base, and went for 0-6 with runners in scoring position. There’s not many teams in the league that could have no hits going into the 9th and potentially still be winning the game.
If Boston has shown anything this year, it is that they always bounce back. The Tigers have an excellent starting rotation, everybody knew that going in, but so does Boston. With Buchholz set to take on Scherzer tonight for Game 2, I’d get ready for another close game in the works. Expect the Red Sox to come out swinging and try to do some damage early to keep Scherzer out of a rhythm. If they can do that, and get to the Tigers middle relief early, the series should be tied 1-1 heading to Detroit.