Veteran Manager Jim Leyland brings his Detroit Tigers to Fenway Park on Saturday, trailing the Boston Red Sox 3-2 in the American League Championships Series.
Detroit needs two wins, right?
No, corrected Leyland.
“We have to win one game,” Leyland said. “We have to win one game and take it from there.”
True. A Red Sox victory Saturday would send Boston to its third World Series in 10 years.
So Detroit must win to force a deciding game Sunday night.
This is relatively new territory for the Red Sox. In their past four appearances in the ALCS (2003 through 2008), they always fell behind: 3-2, 3-0, 3-1 and 3-1 before forcing a Game 7.
Now Boston controls its fate.
“Our guys are well aware of where we are,” Manager John Farrell said. “But at the same time the beauty of (these players) is to not get ahead of themselves.”
Detroit may have no room for error but also has two of the best pitchers in the American League – Max Scherzer on Saturday and if there is a Sunday game, Justin Verlander.
In their first ALCS starts, Scherzer held Boston to two hits and one run over seven innings, striking out 13. Verlander allowed four hits and one run over eight innings, striking out 10.
“Fenway Park is a fun place to pitch in,” Scherzer said.
Boston will counter with Clay Buchholz on Saturday. He faded in Game 2, allowing eight hits and five runs over 52/3 innings.
Buchholz gave up one run through five innings but when the Tigers were coming through their lineup for a third time, they scored four in the sixth.
“There were a couple of innings when I left the ball up in the zone and they hit it out of the park,” Buchholz said.
Farrell said, “I don’t think it’s fatigue. Consistency of execution against these types of lineups is never more important.”
Buchholz has the stuff to compete, but how long will he last?
THE RED SOX lineup will again feature rookie Xander Bogaerts at third base,” Farrell said Friday.
Stephen Drew will start at shortstop although he’s batting .059 in this series. Drew’s defense has been stellar, including the catch of a tough throw from Jon Lester and relay to first for a double play to end the fourth, when Detroit was threatening.
Drew also went 0 for 4 on Thursday with two strikeouts.
“There’s been a lot of people calling for Stephen’s head,” Farrell said, “but he’s a very good player. And in these games, defense is a premium. He shores up the middle of our infield so well, I’m certainly going to preserve that.”
Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be back as the starting catcher after David Ross handled Lester.
DETROIT’S LINEUP isn’t expected to be much different, although Leyland doesn’t know if catcher Alex Avila will be ready. He strained his left knee Thursday in a collision with Ross and eventually left the game.
“We’ll just have to see how he is (Saturday),” Leyland said.
Leyland did say he isn’t going to mess with first baseman Prince Fielder’s spot, although Fielder is batting .211 with one extra base hit (a double).
“We’ve got a few guys we’ve got to get going,” Leyland said.
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