ALCS Game 4: Red Sox on top in Detroit

Former Cy Young Jake Peavy tries to pitch Sox to 3-1 lead

Not much changed in the story of this series. The Detroit Tiger starting pitchers continued their absolute dominance in Game 3. This time Justin Verlander pitched eight very strong innings in which he allowed just four base hits and became the third straight Tiger starter to strike out at least ten – he struck out exactly 10 – Red Sox.

The unexpected part of this game was the fact Boston starter John Lackey matched him and eventually even outpitched him. Lackey went 6.2 innings without surrendering a run, allowed four hits and struck out eight. One of the four hits Verlander allowed turned out to be a very important home run by Mike Napoli. After all was said and done Napoli’s roundtripper represented the game’s only run as the Sox edged out the Tigers in Comerica Park: 1-0.

It was Napoli’s second career home run off Justin Verlander. His first came in his first career at bat when he played for the Los Angeles Angels. The Tigers were threatening late in the game, but a timely double play ended all threats in the ninth as the Red Sox closer Uehara pitched 1.1 scoreless inning for the save.

Time for a slugfest

I’m a huge fan of pitching duels, but this is getting out of hand. At this point the hitters might as well walk up to the plate and leave their bats in the dugout. It’s time both offense break out and Game 4 is the perfect opportunity for this. Both teams are starting their fourth starters. Historically the current Red Sox have done very well against tonight’s starter Doug Fister, the only ones that have not had success against Fister are the big hitters David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia. These are ordinarily the batters that have to knock in the runs for the Sox. 

The Tigers have had a little less success against Red Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy. The first six batters in the lineup though, that is if Peralta plays again today, have all hit at least .275 off Peavy  with seven home runs. Prince Fielder could very well be a key player in this game, as he has hit reasonably well against the righty in the past. He is, however, still looking for his first RBI in his last postseason at bats.

Game 4 pitching matchup

Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67 ERA) vs. Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 ERA)

Jake Peavy had a very bad track record in two postseasons with the San Diego Padres in the previous decade and after a solid 5.2 inning start against the Rays in the ALDS in which he allowed just one run his playoff resume still looks pretty bad: 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA with 24 hits and 14 runs in 15 innings.

Doug Fister on the other hand has had some success in the postseason, especially in his ALCS starts in 2011 and 2012. In 13.2 ALCS innings he has only surrendered two runs, good for a 1.32 ERA. So while Peavy has the better overall track record, Fister has handled the pressure of the postseason a lot better in the past.

Money line

Based on the home field advantage and the starting pitching matchup, and on the fact the Tigers have outhit the Red Sox so far, I believe the Tigers should be able to tie the series at two tonight. The bookies agree as the Tigers are the favorites at -125, but the Sox are close at +115.

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