Finally! After three tightly contested games in which runs were scarce and hits were at a premium, this game saw both teams break out the bats. The Red Sox got 12 hits, while the Tigers saw 9 batters get on base via a hit. The Tigers made the most of it though, scoring seven runs and saw Boston struggle to score three.
Jim Leyland surprised everyone before the game when he decided to bat his best hitter, Miguel Cabrera, second in the lineup. It worked out fine, since Cabrera went 2-4 with 2 RBI, raising his average to .268. The two other players most affected by this change in the batting order, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter, also performed well. Hunter went 1-5 as the team’s new leadoff hitter and drove in two runs with a double. Jackson, the former leadoff guy, batted eighth and hit 2-2 with two walks and two RBI. The best hitter for the Red Sox was Jacoby Ellsbury who, with his four hits, accounted for a third of his team’s hits.
Back to domination?
The chances of this many runs scoring again tonight is a lot smaller as we’ll see the same starting pitchers that – combined – allowed just one run on six hits in Game 1. Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez actually did not give up a single base hit in the six innings he pitched in that game and has good success against the Red Sox hitters over his career. The Red Sox will hope Big Papi will lead their offense against the Venezuelan hurler that led the league in ERA this season. Ortiz has three hits in six at bats off Sanchez and is the only Red Sox hitter with a lifetime average of over .250 against Sanchez. In fact, he is one of only five Red Sox with one or more hits off the righty.
Jon Lester will start for the Red Sox and will face a Tiger lineup that has hit .361 off him. The one batter he – like any other pitcher in the league – will have to fear the most is MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera. Miggy has eleven hits in only twenty-one lifetime at bats, only three of those were for extra bases.
Game 5 pitching matchup
Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA)
This could well be another great pitching duel. Anibal Sanchez has the better numbers, is pitching at home and was literally unhittable in his last and only outing ever against the Red Sox. Not only did he no-hit the Sox for six innings, he struck out thirteen over that span.
Lester on the other hand pitched 6.1 very strong innings against the Tigers his last time out. It was probably the best game he’s ever pitched against these current Tigers, seeing as how their numbers against him are very good. He has been the one pitcher the Sox have always been able to lean on in big games and this is a very big game. The lefty could send the Sox back home with a 3-2 lead.
The odds in this one are a bit closer than I expected them to be. This probably has everything to do with the close Game 1 that was started by the same pitchers. The Tigers are the slight favorites in this one (-116), while the Red Sox are listed at +106.
I expect the Tigers to jump on Lester early and win this game and eventually the series.