Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 196: Pitchers' Duel Goes Tigers' Way

Just as I thought it would, the ALCS kicked off with a nerve-wracking, nail-biter of a contest on Saturday night at Fenway Park. Game one had the potential to be a low scoring affair with Jon Lester matching up against Anibal Sanchez and that's exactly what happened. And unfortunately, the Red Sox found themselves on the short end of that 1-0 score.

Not only were the normally loud Sox bats quieted, but they barely escaped being no-hit by a collection of five Tigers pitchers. They also struck out... a lot. Seventeen times to be exact. Their lone hit came in the bottom of the ninth when Daniel Nava singled on a soft line drive to center. Despite their dismal night at the plate, it's not like the Sox didn't have their chances.

In the first inning, after a Jacoby Ellsbury strike out, Shane Victorino struck out swinging but reached on a wild pitch. Dustin Pedroia followed with a walk. But then David Oritz and Mike Napoli both struck out to end the threat. Sanchez became the 67th pitcher to strike out four batters in one inning, but only the second in major league history to do it in a postseason game. Kind of set the tone for the night...

The Red Sox had the bases loaded (all on walks) in the sixth inning, but also failed to score. Something else weird happened too... Anibal Sanchez was taken out after the sixth inning with a no-hitter going, but he also had thrown 116 pitches. So if there was going to be a no-hitter, it would be a no-no by committee. Thankfully that didn't happen because getting no-hit in the ALCS could be embarrassing.

As great as the Tigers' pitchers were, the Sox were almost as great. Jon Lester held the Tigers lineup, that had the best average in baseball during the regular season, to just one run over 6.1 innings. Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Koji Uehara all followed with scoreless outings. Just one of those games. Depressing really. I might need to drown my sorrows in brownies today.

The two teams are back at it tonight at Fenway... Clay Buchholz and Max Scherzer square off... and it starts at 8pm which means I will be in a constant battle with my eyelids, willing them not to slam shut. But I don't have to work on Monday and I plan on napping often today to make sure I win that battle.

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