The Detroit Tigers rotation boasts a Cy Young winner, and the American League leaders in wins and ERA in Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Anibal Sanchez.
But that trio has had plenty of trouble with Boston’s hard-hitting and playoff-clutch DH David Ortiz.
As reported by the Boston Globe, Ortiz has seven home runs, 14 RBI, and 20 hits with a .444 average in 51 career plate appearances against the Tigers key rotation players. Those numbers might be in the back of Tigers manager Jim Leyland’s mind as Game One of the AL Championship series begins on Saturday night at Fenway Park.
Sanchez gets the starting nod against Boston’s Jon Lester, who led the Red Sox in wins and strikeouts and gave up two earned in his victory over Tampa in the ALDS last week.
Lester also went 2-0 against Detroit this season, allowing six earned runs, two home runs, and striking out 12. While Sanchez didn’t face Boston this season, he got stronger as the season wore on, posting a 2.05 ERA and 39 strikeouts in September.
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Boston sewed up the Rays in four games, with Ortiz hitting .385 for two home runs, four runs, and driving in another three RBI. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia led the Red Sox with five RBI, and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury totaled nine hit in the series.
Down 1-2, the Tigers needed all five games and an 8.0 inning shutout by Verlander in the deciding game to drop Oakland in their opening round. Third baseman Miguel Cabrera also broke out of his mini-slump and hit a two-run homer that proved enough offense for the 3-0 Game Five win. It was Cabrera’s first home run since Sept. 17, a surprising dip from the player that was second in the majors with 44 dingers.
Victor Martinez powered the Detroit line up with two doubles and a home run highlighting a nine-hit, 14-total base ALDS. The 34-year-old Martinez has now hit safely in eight of his last nine playoff games.
While the Red Sox rotation of Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Jake Peavy might not be as imposing as Detroit’s, their bullpen has proven far superior in the last four games. Boston’s pen has a 1.64 ERA, with two saves and two earned runs given up over 11.0 innings, a sharp contrast to the four earned and 12 hits the Tigers relief staff has served up.
Leyland might have more confidence in his bullpen with Phil Coke making his return to the roster. The reliever served as Detroit’s closer for last year’s playoff run, but a groin injury caused a slip to the minors this year. He’ll join Drew Smyly and Jose Alvarez as three lefties coming in for the Tigers in relief, and could help against lefty Oritz in tight situations.
This will be the first time Boston and Detroit have faced each other in the postseason.
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
Betting Odds: Detroit-155, Boston+135
TV Channel: FOX
Live Stream: Postseason.TV
Prediction: Detroit 6, Boston 4