One of the great rallies in postseason history Sunday by the Red Sox not only evened the ALCS at 1-1, but also boosted Boston back ahead of Detroit as the Bovada AL favorite to win the World Series at 9/4, with Detroit at 5/2. St. Louis had taken over the favored role overall at 8/5 entering Monday’s Game 3 of the NLCS.
Things don’t get any easier for Boston on Tuesday as they are a +132 underdog against Detroit’s Justin Verlander. There will be Live Betting. The Sox have done nothing against Detroit’s two starting pitchers thus far, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer. Sanchez no-hit the Sox for six innings in Game 1, and became the first pitcher in postseason history to be pulled after throwing at least six innings and with a no-no intact. He struck out a record-tying four batters in the first inning.
Scherzer was charged with one run over seven innings in Game 2, striking out 13. Closer Joaquin Benoit gave up the tying grand slam to David Ortiz, the latest game-tying slam in playoff history. It’s easy to see 20/20 in hindsight, but it’s worth wondering why Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn’t go to lefty specialist Phil Coke against Big Papi. Ortiz is 2-for-18 in his career off Coke.
If there’s a bright spot about facing Verlander it’s that it is in the ALCS and not the ALDS. He didn’t allow a run over 15 innings and struck out 21 while giving up six hits in two ALDS starts against Oakland. He is 4-0 in seven career ALDS starts with a 1.79 ERA. In four ALCS starts, Verlander is 3-1 with a 4.32 ERA in four starts.
Verlander faced Boston on June 23 at Comerica Park, allowing four runs and seven hits in five innings while striking out four. Detroit won 7-5. Verlander is 3-4 with a 3.63 ERA in 11 career starts against Boston. Ortiz is hitting .370 with two homers in 27 at-bats off Verlander. Mike Napoli is 7-for-23 with a homer. Those are the only two Red Sox to have gone yard off the right-hander. Stephen Drew is 3-for-15 with 10 strikeouts.
The Sox counter with John Lackey. He wasn’t great in his ALDS start against Tampa Bay, allowing four runs and seven hits in 5.1 innings, although Boston won that Game 2 7-4. Lackey pitched against Detroit twice this season. On September 2 at Fenway, he allowed three runs and seven hits in 7.1 innings of a 3-0 loss. On June 20 in Detroit, Lackey allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings of a 4-3 loss. Jhonny Peralta hit a walk-off two-run homer off Andrew Bailey in the bottom of the ninth.
Lackey is 6-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 12 career starts against Detroit and 4-1 with a 3.83 ERA in six starts at Comerica Park. Miguel Cabrera, who appears to have re-found his power stroke with homers in two of the past three games, is 4-for-12 with a homer in his career off Lackey. Prince Fielder is hitting .444 with two doubles in nine at-bats off Lackey. Torii Hunter has faced Lackey more than any other Tiger, going 13-for-56 with two homers.