ALCS Game 4 preview
All the Detroit Tigers have to show for three stellar performances from their starting pitchers is a 2-1 deficit in the AL championship series.
Boston's offense has struck in clutch moments over the past two contests, and the Red Sox will look to come within a victory of reaching another World Series by winning Game 4 on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.
Detroit's starters -- Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander -- have allowed two runs and six hits while striking out 35 in 21 innings, including six frames of no-hit ball from Sanchez in a 1-0 victory in Game 1.
The resilient Red Sox, though, haven't been fazed. They ended the combined no-hitter and put the tying run in scoring position in the ninth in their lone defeat, then capped a five-run comeback with David Ortiz's eighth-inning grand slam and Jarrod Saltalamacchia's walk-off single for a 6-5 win in Game 2.
With Verlander dealing Tuesday, Mike Napoli homered in the seventh to give Boston a 1-0 victory - the fourth 1-0 decision and seventh shutout in 27 games this postseason.
"The runs are pretty stingy,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "This is what it's about in postseason, is good pitching.''
The Red Sox got some of their own solid pitching in Game 3 from John Lackey, who struck out eight and allowed four hits in 6 2-3 innings before the bullpen shut down the Tigers the rest of the way.
"We won a game with four hits," outfielder Jonny Gomes said. "It says a lot about this team."
Miguel Cabrera, who homered in Game 2, failed to reach base for the first time in 32 postseason games for Detroit and struck out with Austin Jackson on third and one out in the eighth. Prince Fielder then whiffed to end the inning.
"We got opportunities to try to score and we didn't do our job,'' Cabrera said.
Detroit, which is 5 for 33 (.152) with runners in scoring position over its last four games, will look to even the series while providing some run support for Doug Fister in his second postseason start.
Fister (0-0, 4.50 ERA) allowed three runs in six innings as the Tigers beat Oakland 8-6 in Game 4 of the Division Series on Oct. 8. He gave up six runs and 11 hits while lasting just 3 1-3 innings in a 10-6 home loss to Boston on June 21, but held the Red Sox to four hits in seven innings of a 3-0 victory at Fenway Park on Sept. 2.
"I think a lot of it is the fact of just executing - keeping the ball down, mixing pitches and not getting in any sort of routine," Fister said. "Their hitters are very smart, very intelligent. And you know, we've seen each other a lot."
Napoli is 2 for 14 off the right-hander in his career. Shane Victorino, however, is 4 for 5 with a homer off Fister this season.
Boston manager John Farrell said Fister presents different challenges than Detroit's previous starters in the series.
"He might not have the sheer power and velocity the other three guys have in this rotation, but he does it a little differently," Farrell said.
The Red Sox will counter with Jake Peavy, whom they acquired in a three-team trade with Detroit and the Chicago White Sox in July that sent shortstop Jose Iglesias to the Tigers.
Peavy (0-0, 1.59) gave up one run in 5 2-3 innings in Game 4 against Tampa Bay in the Division Series on Oct. 8 as Boston eliminated the Rays with a 3-1 victory. His last start for Chicago came against Detroit on July 25, as he allowed four runs and four hits in seven innings and picked up an 8-4 victory.
"I do know those guys well," Peavy said. "It comes down to (Wednesday) night, executing the game plan that we think we're going to go with and get those guys out. It's a huge challenge with the way they swing the bat."
The right-hander went 12 days between appearances in his first postseason start, and he'll be pitching on seven days' rest against the Tigers.
"You like to pitch every five days, we're creatures of habit and we like to do that," Peavy said. "There will be no excuses (Wednesday) night for not being sharp. And I don't think that's going to be the case."
Torii Hunter is hitting .182 in the postseason, but he's 7 for 16 with a homer lifetime off Peavy.