After a memorable Game Two at Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox travel to Detroit to face the Tigers at Comerica Park on Tuesday afternoon for Game Three of the American League Championship Series. The best-of-seven series is tied, 1-1.
On Sunday, Boston avoided a second consecutive loss at home by coming back from being down five runs with an improbable rally. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz hit a grand slam to tie the score in the bottom of the eighth, 5-5. In the bottom of the ninth, Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in Jonny Gomes with a single to left field to give Boston the 6-5 victory.
It was a particularly painful loss for the Tigers given the pitching performance of their starter. Max Scherzer conceded just one run off two hits, and struck out 13 in seven innings, but five relievers failed to protect what seemed to be a comfortable lead.
Manager Jim Leyland will turn to a former Cy Young award winner to regain the series lead. Justin Verlander returns to the mound after two exceptional pitching performances against the Oakland A’s in the AL Division Series. The 30-year-old has not allowed a run in 15 innings, while striking out 21 and allowing just six hits and two walks.
Verlander finished the 2013 season with a 3.46 earned-run average, but has regained his former dominate form lately with a very strong September. The right-hander had a 2.27 ERA in nearly 40 innings of the final regular-season month.
John Lackey takes the mound for Boston. The veteran right-hander allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays in his only 2013 postseason start. Lackey, who didn’t pitch in 2012 after a miserable 2011 season, has looked more like the pitcher who starred for the Los Angeles Angels for eight seasons. The 34-year-old finished the 2013 season with a 3.52 ERA in over 189 innings.
“He was a big-game pitcher,” Tigers right-fielder Torii Hunter told the Boston Globe. Hunter played alongside Lackey in Los Angeles for two seasons.
“Lackey was one of those guys you knew was going to keep you in the game. They loved him with the Angels.”
Ortiz has been the hot bat for Boston. He has accounted for all three of Boston’s home runs in the first in the postseason, and has seven runs batted in. Centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has been effective, as well, with a .375 batting average in 24 at-bats, and four stolen bases.
Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta has swung a hot bat in the postseason by batting .450 with a home run. The Tigers seem to be waiting for Miguel Cabrera to break out. The frontrunner for the AL MVP award is batting just .259 in the postseason with a .310 on-base percentage.
Overall in the postseason, the Tigers are batting .237 in seven games, while the Red Sox are batting .240.
Coverage of the game begins at 4:00 pm Eastern Time on FOX. A live stream is available at Postseason.TV.
An IB Times staff reporter contributed to this report.