Tigers sweep Red Sox, 6-2
The Tigers have done a lot of impressive things already this season, but sweeping the Red Sox at Fenway might just go to the top of the list.
In 1983, just 15 years after the 1968 World Series, the Tigers swept a four-game series from Boston in early June. They finished second in the AL East that year, six games behind Baltimore, then went on to win the World Series in 1984.
Now, 31 years later, they have finally done it again. This time, it Sunday’s 6-2 win only gave them a three-game sweep, but it took Detroit’s road winning streak to 11 games, the longest since a 17-game in, of course, 1984.
"Our coaches and our staff make sure we get out there ready to play," said Miguel Cabrera, who had three of Detroit’s 15 hits. "You always want to have that — that’s the way to play. You feel more comfortable on the field."
Cabrera was hardly the only one contributing with the bat. Ian Kinsler had four hits, Victor Martinez hit his 10th homer of the season, against just nine strikeouts, and Torii Hunter launched a ball over the Green Monster, out of Fenway Park, through a parking lot and out onto the Mass Pike.
"With the top of their order, any mistake we made, we paid for it," Boston manager John Farrell said. "They came in swinging the bats well, and when Jake (Peavy) missed his location, that lineup made us pay for it."
The most impressive thing about the sweep is that Detroit’s starting pitchers held the Red Sox to just three runs, a far cry from the offensive explosions they saw last October. Sunday, it was Anibal Sanchez with a strong start in his return from the 15-day disabled list. Sanchez allowed two runs, only one of which was earned in five innings.
"He was actually pretty crisp. Fastball, changeup, slider all looked pretty good," Ausmus said. "Command around the zone was pretty good. We wanted to stop him around 85ish pitches. He got us through five. A pretty good first start back off the DL."
Robbie Ray, who is staying with the Tigers in order to make a spot start on Thursday, got two outs as the first of five Tigers relievers who shut Boston out on one hit in the last four innings. Ray now has an ERA of 0.75 in three major-league games, and Ausmus has enough confidence in him to give him the ball against Texas in the first game of a four-game series. That will allow Rick Porcello to take two extra days before his next start — a precautionary move due to the stiffness he has experienced in his side in his last two outings.
The much-maligned bullpen retired the last 11 Red Sox batters, and lowered its ERA in May to 2.16 compared to April’s 5.37. On Sunday, Evan Reed, Al Alburquerque, Ian Krol and Joba Chamberlain finished off the game with ease, meaning Joe Nathan could watch comfortably from the bullpen.
Now the Tigers head for Cleveland for three games to finish what has already been an extraordinary road trip, featuring sweeps at Camden Yards and Fenway Park. Detroit now has a seven-game lead in the Central Division, with the Indians in last place, 10.5 games back.
Even though it is only May, the red-hot Tigers have the chance to virtually eliminate the Indians from the division race with a fourth straight road sweep. If the Royals, Twins and White Sox don’t find a way to slow Detroit down, the title could be locked up long before autumn hits Comerica Park.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.