Saturday night’s ALCS game 1 didn’t feature any of the offensive fire power that I had predicted in my game 1 preview. In fact, I didn’t just get the amount of offensive production wrong, I completely whiffed on who would win. The Tigers took game 1 by a score of 1-0 and nearly no-hit the Red Sox behind Anibal Sanchez and four relief pitchers. It didn’t help that the Red Sox struck out 17 times as a team on Saturday night. These seems like an anomaly that isn’t about to repeat itself anytime soon. Then again, we’ve seen how accurate my prediction powers have been in the past.
The Unsung Hero: There were two heroes on Saturday night for the Tigers. As mentioned in my game 1 preview, Sanchez and how he would respond to the hostile Fenway environment would be the x-factor. Well, the proved that right when he pitched six innings and struck out 12 while not allowing a hit. He was as dominant as it gets and if not for throwing 116 pitches, might have been in line for a truly historic performance. The other hero for the Tigers was Jhonny Peralta. In the process of going 3-4, he drove in the only run of the night for the Tigers and also handled the usually difficult left field in Fenway with relative ease.
Key Moment: The Key moment of the game proved to be Jhonny Peralta’s at bat with two on and two out in the top of the sixth inning. His single to shallow center pushed the game’s only run across the plate. Honestly, there isn’t much left to say about it. It was a great at bat against a great pitcher that proved to be the game winner.
Who’s Starting Game 2: Things won’t get any easier for the Red Sox tonight. The Tigers have the luxury of sending Max Scherzer to the mound to start game two. All Scherzer did this season was go 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA, .97 WHIP and 240 strikeouts. He’s your likely AL Cy Young Award winner and on any other team would be the ace of the staff. It just so happens that he shares a rotation with Justin Verlander. Oh yeah, he’s expected to start game three. Have fun with that Boston.
As for the Red Sox, they will counter with Clay Buchholz. The lanky right-hander went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 2013. It was a real bounce back year after posting a 4.56 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 2012. This won’t be an easy match-up for the Tigers by any stretch of the imagination. Buchholz is just as capable as Anibal Sanchez or Max Scherzer to put up a dominant pitching performance.
X-Factor for Game 2: I’m going to go out on a limb here and say David Ortiz. I know, some limb, right? Here’s the thing. In 15 career at bats against Max Scherzer, Ortiz is batting .467/.556/1.689 with 3 home runs and 6 RBI. Yes, it’s a small sample size and could be complete and total luck on his part, but those are impressive numbers against a pitcher that is usually dominant. Another player to keep an eye on is Dustin Pedroia. While his slash line against Scherzer isn’t that impressive, he has tagged him for 2 home runs and 5 RBI in his career against him. The bottom line in all of this is that the Red Sox have been able to hit Scherzer hard in the past. Can they do it tonight?
As for the Tigers, keep an eye on catcher Alex Avila. He has had the best performance against Buchholz out of everyone in the Tigers’ lineup. He is batting .375/.545/.625. If he is up in a big spot, don’t be surprised if he comes through.
Game 2 Prediction: As I have already said, my predictive powers aren’t worth a crap. With that in mind, it’s time for yet another awesome prediction. Tonight, Max Scherzer and Clay Buchholz will engage in another epic pitcher’s duel. The game will be decided in the later innings by the bullpens. The Red Sox bullpen will come through in a couple of tough spots and their offense will break out of yesterday’s funk and deliver some clutch hits late. The Red Sox will win this game, and avoid an almost insurmountable 0-2 series hole, by a score of 3-1. They will head to Detroit for Tuesday’s game 3 tied 1-1.