Another Mike Napoli home run gave the Red Sox a lead they would not lose in Game 5. The Sox have won two out of the three games played in Detroit and are now heading back to Boston with a 3-2 lead. While the Sox couldn't get a hit off Anibal Sanchez in Game 1, they cracked his code quickly in Game 5 on Thursday. Both teams got ten hits, but the Mike Napoli solo home run in the second inning proved to be the difference in a 4-3 game.
Napoli went 3-4 with two runs scored and led the charge for the Bosox, who also saw Pedroia get multiple hits. Jon Lester only went 5.1 innings and gave up two runs, but the bullpen was great again for Boston. Closer Koji Uehara, who is having a terrific season already, pitched 1.2 perfect innings, striking out two, to get the save and send the Red Sox back home with a 3-2 series lead.
Repeat of the 2004 World Series?
If the Red Sox win tonight we will see a repeat of the famous 2004 Fall Classic when the Sox won their first title in over 80 years. They are, however, in a strange position. The Red Sox have never won an ALCS in which they had the lead. In 2004 they beat the Yankees in dramatic fashion after having been down (and almost out) 3-0 and in 2007 they trailed the Indians 3-1 and came back to win the World Series eventually.
To get to the World Series this year they will have to beat either Max Scherzer today or Justin Verlander tomorrow. Not an impossible task, but a tough one nonetheless.
Game 6 pitching matchup
Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90 ERA)
We had the same pitching matchup in Game 1 when the Red Sox beat the Tigers thanks, in part, to the game-tying grand slam by David Ortiz. Clay Buchholz had a very bad start, giving up five runs in 5.1 innings. Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila both homered off Buchholz to give the Tigers a 5-1 lead.
Max Scherzer struck out 13 in seven one-run innings, but saw his bullpen blow the lead and eventually the game in the eight and ninth innings. He will most likely give the Tigers a good chance to win once again. Manager Jim Leyland will definitely hope that he can go the full nine innings so he won't have to go to his unreliable bullpen.
The Red Sox are up in this series and should be the favorites to win the series, but the Tigers still have their two best pitchers available to get to their second consecutive World Series. Tonight the bookies see the Red Sox as slight favorites at -112, with the Tigers very close at +102.
I think the Red Sox clinch tonight. They will grind out at bats against Scherzer and beat the bullpen again. If Scherzer can go the full nine, the Tigers should win this one though.