BOSTON RED SOX (102-67)
at DETROIT TIGERS (97-73)
AL Championship Series, Game 4 - Boston leads series 2-1
First pitch: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Detroit -120, Boston +110, Total: 7.5
The Tigers play a crucial Game 4 at home on Wednesday night as they try to even the ALCS at two games apiece, but the Red Sox will look to ride their momentum and take a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Boston has won two straight in the series and now sends right-hander Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.07 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) to the mound in his first ever League Championship Series appearance. Detroit will counter with its own right-hander, Doug Fister (14-9, 3.71 ERA, 1.31 WHIP). Both of these hurlers pitched to a no-decision in their lone starts during the ALDS, with Peavy allowing only one run in 5.2 innings in Bostonís 3-1 series-clinching victory in Game 4 and Fister giving up three runs over six innings in the Tigers' 8-6 win in Game 4, tying up that series. With Bostonís 1-0 victory at Comerica Park on Tuesday, the two teams have split 10 meetings (5-5 each) on the season. Detroit continued its amazing starting pitching in the ALCS, as Justin Verlander threw eight innings and struck out 10 batters, with Mike Napoliís solo home run in the seventh inning his only mistake. In the series, Detroit starters have combined to pitch 21 innings and allow only two runs on six hits (.087 opponents' BA) while striking out an astronomical 35 batters. Unfortunately for Detroit, its offense has only gone 23-for-102 (.225 BA) in the series at the plate with 25 strikeouts and just seven walks. The Tigers are now 52-32 (.619) at home this season and Boston improved to 46-38 (.538) away from Fenway Park this year.
Jake Peavy, the three-time All-Star and former Cy Young Award winner, has started 305 regular-season games over his career (132 wins) but will be pitching in his very first LCS game on Wednesday night, looking to lower his 8.22 ERA and 1.83 WHIP in three career postseason starts. This season, Peavy faced the Tigers once and earned a win in a July 25 game where he allowed three home runs (four runs total) and struck out seven over seven innings as the Red Sox won 7-4. Wednesday nightís start will be Peavyís 13th in his career against the Tigers, in which he has gone 4-5 (team is 4-8) with a 4.83 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. Stud 3B Miguel Cabrera (13-for-45, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 14 K's), OF Torii Hunter (7-for-16, 3 XBH, 7 RBI) and OF Austin Jackson (9-for-28, 3 XBH, 9 K's) have all had past success against Peavy, but have also struck out 25 times in their combined 89 at-bats. C Alex Avila and OF Johnny Peralta have had their troubles against the Boston righty in the past though, producing a combined .200 BA (11-for-55) with 13 strikeouts, although each does have a home run in the head-to-head matchup. Bostonís bullpen has been stellar thus far in the playoffs, going 2-1 with three saves, an 0.93 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. This is not a surprise though since the bullpen has a 3.60 ERA and 1.31 WHIP throughout the entire 2013 season. With three saves in the playoffs so far and one run allowed in 6.1 innings with 9 K's and no walks, closer Koji Uehara (21 saves, 1.09 ERA, 0.57 WHIP in regular season) has been extremely reliable, and will be trusted in the future to close all the rest of the games.
Doug Fister looks to continue the success that Detroit starting pitching has had in this series. Fister does not look to put up the type of strikeout numbers that the other Tigers pitchers did in this series though, as he recorded only 6.9 K/9 this year. On the season, Fister faced the Red Sox twice with completely different results. On June 21 at home he allowed 11 hits and six runs in just 3.1 innings as the Tigers lost 10-6. He seemingly made adjustments for his next start against the Sox at Fenway Park on Sept. 2, pitched seven innings of four-hit ball, allowing no runs and striking out four in a 3-0 Detroit win. OF Shane Victorino (4-for-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI) and C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (5-for-11, 1 HR) have each had success against Fister in their careers, but star DH David Ortiz, has not done well against Fister in his career, going 5-for-20, with no homers and 5 K's. The Tigers' bullpen has not fared well this year, owning a 4.02 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, but has converted 74% of its save opportunities overall, which includes a 79% success rate at home. Their troubles have followed them into the playoffs where they are 1-2 and have given up nine runs (8 ER), 18 hits and eight walks in 16.2 innings pitched, equating to a 4.32 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. Closer Joaquin Benoit (24 saves, 2.01 ERA, 1.03 WHIP in regular season) has converted 3-of-4 save opportunities in the postseason, but has given up three runs in 4.2 innings, and allowed the grand slam to David Ortiz in Game 2 which could be the turning point of the entire series.