Final, Red Sox 4-3: The Red Sox are one win away from advancing to the World Series.
Koji Uehara tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning to complete a five-out save, and the Red Sox held off the Tigers 4-3 in Game 5 of the ALCS. The series now shifts back to Boston with the Red Sox leading 3-2.
The Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning of Game 5. Mike Napoli opened the scoring with a monster home run to center field. David Ross then smacked an RBI double, and Jacoby Ellsbury plated a run with an infield single.
The Sox increased their lead to 4-0 in the third inning when Anibal Sanchez delivered a wild pitch. Napoli had hit a ground-rule double with one out, and had advanced to third base when Jonny Gomes grounded back to the mound.
The Tigers didn’t go down without a fight. Detroit scored one run in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings before Boston’s bullpen was able to nail down the victory. Junichi Tazawa induced a couple of big double plays in the sixth and seventh, Craig Breslow recorded two big outs and Uehara was perfect in 1 2/3 innings.
The Red Sox also benefited from a big double play in the fourth inning. Brayan Pena grounded back to the mound, and Jon Lester snuffed out the Tigers’ threat with a 1-6-3 twin killing.
Lester went 5 1/3 innings while earning the win. He gave up two runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three. Lester threw 98 pitches (60 strikes.) Sanchez, meanwhile, gave up four runs (three earned) on nine hits over six innings while suffering the loss.
Napoli led the way offensively for Boston. He finished 3-for-4 with a home run, double, single and two runs scored. Ross and Dustin Pedroia added two hits. Xander Bogaerts went 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and a run scored.
The Red Sox and Tigers will pick things up at Fenway Park on Saturday. If the Red Sox win, they’re going to the World Series. If the Tigers win, we’ll have a winner-take-all Game 7 at Fenway Park on Sunday.
What a series it’s been so far. Good night, everyone.
Mid 9th, Red Sox 4-3: The Red Sox came up empty in the ninth inning despite an excellent chance to add an insurance run.
Xander Bogaerts walked to begin the ninth. Al Alburquerque almost struck out Bogaerts, but the rookie managed to barely check his swing on a slider out of the zone.
Will Middlebrooks pinch ran for Bogaerts at first base and immediately made his presence felt. David Ross dropped a sacrifice bunt down to third base. Miguel Cabrera made the play and tossed to first for the out, but no one was covering third base, so Middlebrooks kept on running. Catcher Brayan Pena finally arrived at the bag as Fielder fired across the diamond, but Middlebrooks slid in safely. Third base umpire Rob Drake actually got in the way of Pena’s attempted tag.
The Tigers intentionally walked Jacoby Ellsbury with one out, and Ellsbury swiped second base. Alburquerque escaped the jam by striking out Shane Victorino and retiring Dustin Pedroia on a fly ball to center field.
End 8th, Red Sox 4-3: The Red Sox are three defensive outs away from taking Game 5.
Koji Uehara fell behind in the count, 3-1, versus Jhonny Peralta upon entering. But Uehara battled back and struck out Peralta with a splitter on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.
Uehara only needed three pitches to strike out Omar Infante. Infante also went down swinging on a splitter.
Xander Bogaerts, David Ross and Jacoby Ellsbury are due up for Boston in the ninth inning. Al Alburquerque will be the new Detroit pitcher.
11:27 p.m., Red Sox 4-3: Craig Breslow retired Victor Martinez on a chopper to first base. The Red Sox will now turn to Koji Uehara for a five-out save.
Mid 8th, Red Sox 4-3: Jose Veras worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning for Detroit.
Mike Napoli, who is a triple shy of the cycle, struck out to begin the eighth. Jonny Gomes then grounded to short, and Stephen Drew popped out into shallow left field.
Jose Iglesias made another excellent defensive play on Drew’s popup into shallow left. The Tigers shortstop needed to run a long way to track it down.
End 7th, Red Sox 4-3: Craig Breslow retired Prince Fielder on a ground ball to second base, and the Red Sox lead 4-3 through seven innings in Detroit.
This marks the second time that Junichi Tazawa has retired Miguel Cabrera in a big spot. Tazawa struck out Cabrera in the eighth inning of Game 3. He got the reigning AL MVP to ground into a crucial double play in the seventh inning of this game.
Tazawa recorded two big double plays upon entering, but he also surrendered a run. It was interesting to see Tazawa pitch more than one inning.
“[Tazawa] is probably better suited for one inning,” John Farrell said back on Sept. 28.
11:08 p.m., Red Sox 4-3: The Tigers keep chipping away.
Jose Iglesias and Torii Hunter led off the seventh inning with back-to-back singles against Junichi Tazawa to make it first and third for Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera bounced into a double play, which the Red Sox will certainly take in that situation. Iglesias scored on the play, but Boston is more than willing to trade a run for two outs there.
John Farrell will now turn to Craig Breslow with Prince Fielder coming up.
Mid 7th, Red Sox 4-2: The Tigers used two pitchers to work a scoreless seventh inning.
Phil Coke began the frame by retiring Jacoby Ellsbury on a flyout to center. Coke then gave way to Jose Veras.
Veras struck out Shane Victorino swinging on a breaking ball, but Dustin Pedroia reached on an infield single. Pedroia hit a high chopper toward second base, and hustled his tail off to beat out Omar Infante’s toss to first. (It’s worth noting that Victorino batted right-handed with Anibal Sanchez out of the game.)
Jim Leyland stuck with Veras against David Ortiz, and his faith was rewarded. Pedroia swiped second base, but Ortiz flied out to right-center field to end the inning. Ortiz has just two hits in this series — one, of course, being the game-tying grand slam in Game 2.
End 6th, Red Sox 4-2: Brayan Pena cut the Red Sox’ lead to 4-2, although things could have been much worse for Boston.
Pena hammered Junichi Tazawa’s first pitch into left field to score Victor Martinez from second base. Tazawa then rebounded to induce a huge 5-4-3, inning-ending double play.
Austin Jackson had reached safely in six straight plate appearances before hitting a ground ball to Xander Bogaerts with one out in the sixth. Bogaerts made the play and fired to second base, where Dustin Pedroia hung in there with Pena bearing down on him to spin the double play.
The sixth-inning run was charged to Jon Lester, who exited with one out after Omar Infante blooped a single into center field. Lester gave up two runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three in 5 1/3 innings of work. He threw 98 pitches (60 strikes).
It was a curious decision by John Farrell to turn to Tazawa in that situation. Pena hit .325 (40-for-123) with four home runs and 16 RBIs versus right-handers during the regular season. He hit .264 (28-for-106) with no home runs and six RBIs against left-handers.
Farrell has also said in the past that Tazawa is more effective when he’s limited to just one inning of work, so turning to the righty with 11 outs to go in the game is an interesting call.
10:32 p.m., Red Sox 4-1: Jon Lester exits with one out in the sixth inning.
Victor Martinez walked to begin the frame. Omar Infante then dropped a one-out single into center field.
John Farrell will now turn to Junichi Tazawa.
Mid 6th, Red Sox 4-1: Anibal Sanchez tossed six no-hit innings in Game 1. It took him until the sixth inning to enjoy a hitless frame in Game 5.
Sanchez retired Stephen Drew, Xander Bogaerts and David Ross in order in the sixth inning. He struck out Drew to begin the inning and Ross to end it.
Sanchez has thrown 108 pitches, so his night is probably done. It was a grind for the right-hander, but the Tigers are still in this ballgame.
End 5th, Red Sox 4-1: Miguel Cabrera has put the Tigers on the scoreboard in Game 5.
Austin Jackson led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a single into center field. Jackson, who is 2-for-2, has now reached safely in his last six plate appearances.
Jose Iglesias dropped down a bunt with Jackson on first base, and Jon Lester initially failed to glove it. Lester stayed with it, though, and somehow managed to flip it to first base with his glove just in time to retire Iglesias. Iglesias disputed the call to no avail.
Torii Hunter popped out to David Ross in foul territory for the second out, but Lester couldn’t pull off another great escape. Cabrera singled into left-center field to drive in Jackson with Detroit’s first run.
Mid 5th, Red Sox 4-0: The Red Sox produced a couple of bloop singles with two outs, but couldn’t add to their four-run lead.
Anibal Sanchez retired Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia to begin the fifth inning. Victorino grounded to first base, and Pedroia flied out to Austin Jackson in center field.
David Ortiz lifted a fly ball to left field with two outs. It probably would have been caught by any left fielder in baseball, but Jhonny Peralta couldn’t make the catch. Peralta charged in and slid, but the ball dropped out of his reach for a two-out single.
Mike Napoli then dropped a single into center field. Napoli is now a triple shy of the cycle, although he only has two triples this season and eight in his career, so it’s unlikely that he’ll accomplish the overrated feat. There has never been a cycle in the postseason, in case you were wondering.
Jonny Gomes grounded to the left side to end the inning.
End 4th, Red Sox 4-0: The Tigers started to put something together in the fourth inning before a huge double play ended their threat.
Victor Martinez led off with a single, and Omar Infante worked a one-out walk.
Jon Lester then fell behind in the count, 3-0, to Brayan Pena, who pinch hit for Alex Avila. Avila has been banged up in this game. He was visibly rattled following a collision with David Ross in the second inning, and then took a foul ball off the mask with Ross batting in the third inning.
Pena, who had been 7-for-17 (.412) in his career against Lester, grounded back to the mound for a 1-6-3, inning-ending double play. Lester nearly threw the ball into left-center field, but Stephen Drew made an excellent stretch at second base. Mike Napoli also deserves credit for a nice scoop at first base.
Mid 4th, Red Sox 4-0: David Ross came to play.
Ross singled into left field with one out in the fourth inning. He now has a double, a single, an RBI and has been going all out on the bases. In addition to colliding with Alex Avila at home plate in the second inning, Ross had a nice takeout slide on Jose Iglesias with two outs in the fourth.
Jacoby Ellsbury grounded to second base, where Omar Infante made the play and flipped to Iglesias. Iglesias then made a very quick turn while avoiding Ross to deliver a throw to first. Prince Fielder scooped the throw in the dirt to complete the double play.
End 3rd, Red Sox 4-0: Jon Lester was shaky in the first inning. He has since settled down nicely.
Lester retired Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in order in the third inning. He needed just nine pitches to do so.
Hunter and Fielder both put the ball on the ground. Hunter grounded to Xander Bogaerts at third base, and Fielder grounded to Stephen Drew, who was pulled over because of the shift.
Cabrera struck out looking in the third. Lester painted the outside corner with a nasty cutter.
Mid 3rd, Red Sox 4-0: Jose Iglesias made a jaw-dropping catch in the third inning to rob David Ortiz of a hit. But the Red Sox still added a run.
Ortiz led off with a popup into shallow center field. Iglesias, who was pulled over to the right side of second base because of the shift, ran about four miles to make a sensational grab. Iglesias completely outstretched his glove hand and made the running catch about waist-high. Even Ortiz applauded the shortstop’s effort.
The Red Sox refused to go down easy, though. Mike Napoli, who homered in the second inning, ripped a ground-rule double down the left field line. He advanced to third base when Jonny Gomes grounded back to Anibal Sanchez.
Sanchez uncorked a wild pitch with Stephen Drew batting, and that allowed Napoli to race home with Boston’s fourth run.
End 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: It’s safe to say that Austin Jackson’s struggles are behind him.
Jackson singled into center field with two outs in the second inning. Jackson has now reached safely in five straight plate appearances after starting the 2013 postseason 3-for-33 with 18 strikeouts. Jim Leyland’s decision to drop Jackson to eighth in the order after Game 3 has certainly paid off for the Tigers.
Jackson moved up to second base when a pitch got away from catcher David Ross. Jose Iglesias chased a 2-2 curveball in the dirt, though, and Jon Lester exited the inning unharmed.
The Red Sox flashed some leather in the second inning before Jackson’s two-out knock. Stephen Drew made a nice play on a line drive to the left side, and Jonny Gomes raced back to make a running grab when Alex Avila struck a fly ball to deep left field.
Mid 2nd, Red Sox 3-0: The Tigers used a big second inning to propel themselves to a victory in Game 4. The Red Sox are hoping that a similar fate awaits them in Game 5.
Boston scored three runs in the second inning to take control of Game 5.
It all started with a mammoth home run from Mike Napoli. Napoli absolutely crushed his second homer of the series to center field. It traveled well beyond the 420-foot marker.
Jonny Gomes then reached on an error by third baseman Miguel Cabrera, which kickstarted some more damage.
Xander Bogaerts, who was inserted into the starting lineup in the hopes of providing a spark, doubled down the left field line with one out after Stephen Drew struck out swinging. That set up runners at second and third for David Ross, and really fired up the Red Sox’ dugout in the process.
Ross responded with a double over the head of left fielder Jhonny Peralta. Gomes scored easily, but Bogaerts was held up at third base because he started back toward second base to tag up on the fly ball to left. It was a rookie mistake, and Bogaerts knew it.
Jacoby Ellsbury knocked in Bogaerts, though. He hit a comebacker that kicked off the mound and over toward second base, resulting in an RBI infield single.
The Tigers’ infield was pulled in for Shane Victorino’s at-bat, and Ellsbury swiped second base. Victorino hit a chopper to Omar Infante, and the Tigers second baseman fired home to throw out Ross, who was off on contact. Ross collided with Alex Avila at the plate, but Avila hung onto it. Avila was, however, a little shaken up after the collision.
Dustin Pedroia grounded into an inning-ending forceout, but the damage was certainly done. The Red Sox’ offense is off and running in Game 5.
End 1st, 0-0: Miguel Cabrera was thrown out at the plate to end the first inning.
Jon Lester gave up two hits and a walk in the first, but came away unscathed because Cabrera failed to score from second base on a base hit to left field. Cabrera, who has been hobbled all series, ran threw the stop sign put up by third base coach Tom Brookens. He was out by a mile.
Cabrera had reached via a one-out walk. Prince Fielder followed with a single into center field that had a whole bunch of topspin on it. That set up runners at first and second for Victor Martinez, who flied out to center field.
Jhonny Peralta singled into left with two outs, at which point Cabrera tried to give the Tigers their first run of the game. Jonny Gomes fired home to David Ross, who withstood a minor collision.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Anibal Sanchez started Game 5 with — what else? — a strikeout.
Jacoby Ellsbury worked the count full, but ultimately whiffed on a changeup located on the outside corner.
Shane Victorino switched things up in his first at-bat of the night. Victorino, who has batted mostly right-handed since August, batted left-handed in the first inning. He broke his bat while grounding to first base. Prince Fielder avoided the shattered lumber while making the play, and flipped to Sanchez to record the out. The flip was relatively low, but Sanchez went down and got it.
Dustin Pedroia singled into left field with two outs. The Red Sox then put the wheels in motion, but David Ortiz fouled off a pitch with Pedroia running. Ortiz chopped the next pitch right to Fielder at first base.
8:08 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury takes a strike on the outside corner. We’re underway in Game 5.
8:05 p.m.: The rain has stopped at Comerica Park, and we’re just about ready for baseball.
8:02 p.m.: Much of the attention leading up to Game 5 is centered on Xander Bogaerts. But let’s be real here. It’s the veterans who need to step up to make sure that the Red Sox fly back to Boston with a 3-2 series lead.
David Ortiz had that all-important grand slam in Game 2, but he hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire. In fact, that remains his only hit of the series. Ortiz is 1-for-15 in the ALCS, and he ended three separate innings in Game 4. That’s got to change.
Dustin Pedroia, in addition to his botched double play in Game 4, is just 3-for-14 in the series. He’s hitting .226 (7-for-31) in the postseason.
Jacoby Ellsbury finally broke out in Game 4 after starting the series 1-for-10. Shane Victorino, however, is still trying to get comfortable. Victorino is 2-for-16 with seven strikeouts in the series.
7:40 p.m.: It’s expected to be all hands on deck in Game 5 as far as Red Sox relievers are concerned. And Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara should be well-rested after not pitching in Game 4.
The Red Sox’ bullpen is in the midst of an impressive stretch right now. The unit hasn’t surrendered a run in 16 2/3 consecutive innings, and owns a 0.74 ERA this postseason.
“The one thing that ‑‑ with the exception of last night — our starters have done, I think, a fairly good job of working deep in the games — enough to where we haven’t had to bridge too much either to get to Breslow or Tazawa and then ultimately to Koji,” John Farrell said Thursday. “But I think the game has unfolded in a way those guys can anticipate their usage, and they’ve responded accordingly. They’ve been outstanding the entire postseason. And that’s not to single out three guys. That’s to say the whole bullpen has pitched very well.”
7:17 p.m.: Thursday marks a busy day in Boston sports. Not only are the Red Sox battling the Tigers in a crucial game in Detroit, but the Bruins are facing Tim Thomas and the Panthers down in Florida.
NESN has you covered every step of the way. Bruins coverage is currently airing on NESN, while Red Sox pregame coverage is currently airing on NESNplus.
To find out your NESNplus channel listing, all you’ve got to do is check out the link below.
6:56 p.m.: The decision to insert Xander Bogaerts into the starting lineup seems like an easy one. Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks are a combined 2-for-23 (.087) with 11 strikeouts in the series, and a combined 7-for-51 (.137) with 17 strikeouts this postseason.
Bogaerts, meanwhile, has taken advantage of his limited opportunities, which suggests that he could spark the Red Sox’ offense. Obviously, one guy can only do so much, but a good performance from Bogaerts out of the No. 8 spot would really help lengthen the Red Sox’ lineup. Right now, there isn’t much production coming out of the bottom of the order.
“Yeah, as we talked about last night the need for the potential for increased production from the left side of the infield,” John Farrell said Thursday. “And then the brief number of at‑bats that Xander has had for us, he’s been very much under control, puts a good swing on the ball last night against Benoit, has not expanded the strike zone. And I think more than anything just the maturity that he shows and the offensive potential that he has, I felt like it was time to make a change.”
According to Farrell, the decision for Bogaerts to replace Middlebrooks rather than Drew stemmed from Drew’s consistent approach at the plate and a desire to keep an additional left-handed bat in the lineup.
6:08 p.m.: Xander Bogaerts will indeed be in the Red Sox’ starting lineup for Game 5. He’ll replace Will Middlebrooks at third base and bat eighth.
Jonny Gomes will also be in the starting lineup, as John Farrell really likes the intangibles that Gomes brings to the table in these intense playoff games.
David Ross, as expected, will be behind the plate with Jon Lester toeing the rubber.
The rest of Thursday’s Game 5 lineups are below.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Shane Victorino, RF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Jonny Gomes, LF
Stephen Drew, SS
Xander Bogaerts, 3B
David Ross, C
Jon Lester, LHP
Torii Hunter, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 3B
Prince Fielder, 1B
Victor Martinez, DH
Jhonny Peralta, LF
Omar Infante, 2B
Alex Avila, C
Austin Jackson, CF
Jose Iglesias, SS
Anibal Sanchez, RHP
3:15 p.m.: We’ll find out the lineups soon, but it’ll be shocking if Xander Bogaerts isn’t penciled into John Farrell’s starting nine.
Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks have been struggling this postseason, and Bogaerts has the potential to jumpstart the Red Sox’ sputtering offense.
“I think if this guy does get into the lineup, there’s going to be an infusion of energy,” Red Sox assistant general manager Mike Hazen said of Bogaerts on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan on Thursday. “We’ve seen a couple of really, really good at-bats during the postseason. He’s obviously a talented kid. I think John is looking for ways to continue to spark the offense.”
Bogaerts absolutely has the potential to spark the Red Sox’ offense. He has shown tremendous poise in his young career, and has so far taken advantage of his limited opportunities in the postseason. Bogaerts roped a double in the ninth inning of Game 4, and has reached safely in three of his four playoff plate appearances. He has also scored four runs.
The question likely isn’t whether Bogaerts will be in the lineup, but whether it’s Drew or Middlebrooks who comes out. Since Drew has more experience against Anibal Sanchez, it seems likely that Middlebrooks will be the guy sent to the bench to begin Game 5. We’ll find out soon enough.
8 a.m. ET: It’s a best-of-three series.
The Red Sox and Tigers are all squared up in the ALCS after Detroit rolled to a 7-3 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday. Now, it’s a matter of which team can win two of the next three games. Jon Lester and Anibal Sanchez will take the ball in the first of those three tilts Thursday.
The ALCS will head back to Boston no matter what, but whichever team locks down a win in Game 5 in Detroit will certainly have the upper hand. The winner will be one win away from a World Series berth, while the other will be pushed to the brink of elimination. And while the Red Sox will have home-field advantage on their side for Games 6 and 7, the Tigers will have the benefit of rolling out Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
Since Scherzer and Verlander are waiting in the wings, it’s important for Lester to bring his A-game in Game 5. Lester pitched well when he and Sanchez squared off in Game 1, but the Red Sox’ offense was unable to get anything going. That’s been a trend throughout this series, although Boston did manage 12 hits in Game 4. The issue Wednesday was Boston’s inability to do anything with its baserunners.
Sanchez didn’t give up a hit in Game 1, but the Red Sox drove up his pitch count enough to knock him from the game after six innings. Expect the Sox to take a similar approach in Game 5, although they’ll need to make their chances count to ensure that they fly home with a 3-2 series lead in their back pocket.
Game 5 in Detroit is scheduled to kick off at 8:07 p.m. Stick around here for updates, including whether Xander Bogaerts finds his way into Boston’s starting lineup.