Sunday, March 9, 2014
A look at the best-of-seven American League championship series between the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox:
Jon Lester, who won the opener of the Boston-Tampa Bay series, will be on the mound Saturday when the Red Sox host the Tigers.
The Associated Press
Designated hitter David Ortiz has been one of Boston's postseason performers, batting .385 with 2 homers, 3 RBI and 5 walks in the four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Associated Press
SEASON SERIES: Tigers won 4-3.
TIGERS: CF Austin Jackson (.272, 12 HRs, 49 RBIs), RF Torii Hunter (.304, 17, 84), 3B Miguel Cabrera (MLB-leading .348, 44, 137), 1B Prince Fielder (.279, 25, 106), DH Victor Martinez (.301, 14, 83), LF Jhonny Peralta (.303, 11, 55), 2B Omar Infante (.318, 10, 51), C Alex Avila (.227, 11, 47), SS Jose Iglesias (.303, 3, 29 with Boston and Detroit).
RED SOX: CF Jacoby Ellsbury (.298, 9, 53, 92 runs, MLB-best 52/56 SBs), RF Shane Victorino (.294, 15, 61), 2B Dustin Pedroia (.301, 9, 84, 42 doubles, 17 SBs), DH David Ortiz (.309, 30, 103, .959 OPS), 1B Mike Napoli (.259, 23, 92), LF Daniel Nava (.303, 12, 66), C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.273, 14, 65), SS Stephen Drew (.253, 13, 67, 8 errors), 3B Will Middlebrooks (.227, 17, 49).
TIGERS: RH Anibal Sanchez (14-8, AL-best 2.57 ERA), RH Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90, 240 Ks), RH Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46), RH Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67).
RED SOX: LH Jon Lester (15-8, 2.75, 2131/3 IP), RH Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74), RH John Lackey (10-13, 3.52, 2 CG), RH Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 with White Sox and Red Sox).
TIGERS: RH Joaquin Benoit (4-1, 2.01, 24/26 saves), LH Drew Smyly (6-0, 2.37), RH Jose Veras (0-5, 3.02, 21/25 saves with Houston and Detroit), LH Jose Alvarez (1-5, 5.82 in 14 games, 6 starts), RH Al Alburquerque (4-3, 4.59, 70 Ks, 34 BBs in 49 innings), RH Rick Porcello (13-8, 4.32, 32 appearances, 29 starts), RH Luke Putkonen (1-3, 3.03).
RED SOX: RH Koji Uehara (4-1, 1.09 ERA, 21/24 saves, 101 Ks, 9 BBs, 73 games), RH Junichi Tazawa (5-4, 3.16, 71 games), LH Craig Breslow (5-2, 1.81), RH Brandon Workman (6-3, 4.97 in 20 games, 3 starts), RH Ryan Dempster (8-9, 4.57 in 32 games, 29 starts), LH Franklin Morales (2-2, 4.62), LH Felix Doubront (11-6, 4.32 in 29 games, 27 starts).
• Charter members of the American League, the Red Sox and Tigers were AL East rivals from 1969-97 until Detroit shifted to the Central. They have never met in the playoffs before.
• Both clubs were involved in one of the most significant trades before the July 31 deadline, a three-team deal with the White Sox that sent Peavy from Chicago to Boston, and Iglesias from the Red Sox to the Tigers. Iglesias, a slick-fielding rookie, was obtained to play shortstop in place of Peralta, a two-time All-Star suspended 50 games as part of baseball's Biogenesis drug investigation. Once he returned, Peralta was shifted to left field. But when the Tigers played a decisive Game 5 in their division series against Oakland, Manager Jim Leyland started Peralta at SS instead of the slumping Iglesias. Don Kelly was inserted in LF. Peralta batted .417 in the series with a crucial home run and 5 RBI. Iglesias went 1 for 12 (.083). It will be interesting to see how Leyland plays it against Boston's high-powered bats.
• Another offensive force for the Tigers was Martinez, who played 11/2 seasons with the Red Sox from 2009-10. The four-time All-Star got a $50 million contract from Detroit and batted .450 (9 for 20) in the ALDS with a tying homer late in Game 4.
• The Tigers took three of four at home against Boston in June, then the Red Sox won two of three during the Fenway Park rematch in early September. Fister beat Lackey 3-0 in the opener before Lester edged Scherzer 2-1 in the middle game. Boston busted loose for a 20-4 rout in the finale, with Ortiz hitting two of the team's eight homers.
• Sanchez did not face the Red Sox this season. Ortiz, though, is 3 for 3 with two homers against the AL's ERA leader. Big Papi has three homers in 15 at-bats against Scherzer, and two against Verlander.
• Hunter (.433), Cabrera (.526) and Martinez (.429) all have had success against Lester. The trio have a combined for nine extra-base hits and 10 RBI. Peralta has two homers and five RBIs. Even though the Tigers lost twice to Lester this year, they hit .321 against him -- the highest average by any team the lefty faced more than once this season.
• Other than Peralta (seven RBI in 17 at-bats), Buchholz has shut down the Tigers' big bats.
TIGERS: Detroit (93-69) won the AL Central by one game over Cleveland, but that slim margin was deceiving. The Tigers were in control from mid-August on. After clinching the division, Detroit lost its final three regular-season games at lowly Miami, totaling only three runs. Henderson Alvarez threw a no-hitter against the Tigers in the finale. But they bounced back quickly, beating the AL West champion Athletics in the division series for the second consecutive year behind another Game 5 gem from Verlander in Oakland.
• Tigers pitchers set a major league record with 1,428 strikeouts this season.
• Scherzer was baseball's lone 20-game winner, and the Tigers have the same excellent depth in their rotation as they did when they won the pennant last year.
RED SOX: Boston (97-65) returned to the postseason for the first time since 2009 after one of the most tumultuous periods in franchise history.
• The Red Sox finished with the best record in the AL, earning home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The AL's victory in the All-Star game gives the American League champion the extra home game in the World Series.
• The Red Sox became the second AL team in the three-division era to go from worst to first. Then they defeated the wild-card Rays 3-1 in the division series, winning both home games.
• This is Boston's first AL East title since 2007 and just the second since 1995.
• Ortiz is the only player remaining from the 2004 World Series title team. Pedroia, Lester and Ellsbury were also on the 2007 champions.
• The Red Sox never lost more than three games in a row this season, the first major league team to do that since the 2005 Cardinals. Boston has dropped three straight only twice since May.
• The Red Sox led the majors with 853 runs. They were successful on 86.6 percent of stolen base attempts, the best in AL history since baseball started keeping track of caught stealings in the 1920s. Boston was successful on its final 39 tries during the regular season and 6 of 7 in the ALDS.
• Former Tigers OF Quintin Berry provides a spark off the bench.
• This is the fourth time OF Jonny Gomes has been a part of a big turnaround. The 2008 Rays won 31 more games than the year before; the 2010 Reds won 13 more, the 2012 Athletics won 20 more and this year's Red Sox won 28 more than the previous season.
-- The Associated Press