Friday October 18, 2013 | 05:36 AM

Greetings from Detroit Metro Airport, awaiting Southwest Flight 285 to Baltimore. Then it will be on to Manchester, N.H., a stop at Fenway, and home to Maine.

Jim Leyland was his usual honest self after the Tigers 4-3 loss to the Red Sox. Detroit muffed a golden chance in the first inning, when Miguel Cabrera tried to score from second base on a single to left field. Out by a mile, as they say.

Initially, third base coach Tom Brookens was waving Cabrera in, but then put up the stop sign as Cabrera rounded third. Too late. Cabrera kept going and was thrown out.

Leyland said the natural move for a coach is to look to score a runner with two outs. But Cabrera is slowed by a groin injury.

"With Miggy, you've got to hold him right away," Leyland said. Then "he held him too late.

"It was a touchy one, but with Miguel's status right now, you pretty much almost have to play safety first. You can't really take chances."

Leyland said he had no problem with the way Boston's David Ross collided with his catcher, Alex Avila, who eventually had to leave the game with a strained knee.

"David really did the only thing he could do," Leyland said.

Avila also said he understood and probably would have done the same thing if he was the runner.

Xander Bogaerts made his first post-season start and doubled in his first at-bat. He scored the team's third run in the second inning. Bogaerts also played fine defense at third base.

"I was a bit nervous before the game," Bogaerts said. But "I controlled my emotions pretty good."

And to think, Bogaerts began the year with the Portland Sea Dogs.

"Wow, it's a crazy year," he said. "Very blessed. I mean sometimes I can't even believe I'm here. At 21 and starting (the season) in Double-A, and now here in the ALCS, one game away from the World Series.

"Sometimes it's hard to believe. But it's good so far."

Boston starter Jon Lester said he was not happy to come out of the game after only 5 1/3 innings, "but in that situation, that's John (Farrell's) decision. I may not like it, but that's his job. I respect every decision he makes."

Lester gave up seven hits and walked three. He left the game with a 4-1 lead, with two runners on base (one of whom scored).

Thursday was Lester's ninth post-season start, tying him with Roger Clemens and Tim Wakefield for the second-most in team history. Pedro Martinez has started 11.

Lester could get one or two more starts if the Red Sox reach the World Series.

For more on Thursday's game, see our game story. For the challenges that the Tigers rotation still presents, see today's column.


About this Blog

Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.

Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases

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