The Detroit Tigers fell into a hole early in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.
After failing to climb out of it, the Tigers have a bigger hole to climb out of down 3-2 to the Boston Red Sox as the best-of-seven ALCS heads back to Fenway Park starting with Game 6 Saturday night.
Boston has a chance to punch its ticket to the World Series when Clay Buchholz takes the hill against AL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer. If the Los Angeles Dodgers force a Game 7 in the NLCS with a win Friday, Boston will host Detroit at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. If the St. Louis Cardinals close out the Dodgers Friday, the ALCS Game 6 will be pushed back to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Boston rallied for three runs off Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez in the second inning and took a 4-0 lead in the third inning when Mike Napoli scored on a Sanchez wild pitch. Detroit plated single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh inning but Red Sox closer Koji Uehara was lights out again, picking up five outs to preserve the 4-3 victory Thursday in Detroit.
After Detroit had a first inning rally attempt cut short when slugger Miguel Cabrera ran through a late stop sign from Tigers third base coach Tom Brookens and was thrown out at the plate by Jonny Gomes, Napoli led off the second inning with an awe-inspiring 460-foot blast of a home run.
Gomes then reached base when Cabrera couldn’t come up with a grounder at third base and after a Stephen Drew strike out, rookie shortstop Xander Bogaerts doubled to left to put runners on second and third with one out. David Ross then doubled to plate Gomes and Jacoby Ellsbury’s infield single scored Bogaerts for the 3-0 lead.
Sanchez’s wild pitch that allowed the Red Sox a 4-0 lead in the third inning was the first time a Tiger’s pitcher allowed a run to score on a wild pitch since Jack Morris threw one in Game 4 of the 1984 World Series.
Cabrera got Detroit on the board in the bottom of the fifth when his two-out single scored Austin Jackson.
The Tigers cut the Red Sox lead to 4-2 when Brayan Pena singled off Junichi Tazawa to score Victor Martinez but Tazawa got out of the inning when he got Jackson to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Detroit looked to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh when Jose Iglesias and Torii Hunter singled to put runners on the corners with no outs and Cabrera at the plate. But Tazawa, who struck out Cabrera in a key at-bat to help preserve a Game 3 win, got the hobbled star to bounce into a double play that allowed Iglesias to score and narrow the lead to 4-3. The threat ended when Craig Breslow got Prince Fielder to ground out to second to end the seventh.
Uehara closed out the ninth with a 1-2-3 inning as Pena flew out to left, Jackson flew out to center and Iglesias popped out to second base.
Jon Lester picked up the win, allowing two earned runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Sanchez suffered the loss, giving up three earned runs on nine hits and five strikeouts with no walks in six innings of work. The Tigers bullpen pitched three scoreless innings.