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With one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, left fielder Daniel Nava roped a ball up the middle for a single. Although few in the Fenway crowd would have expected it, this was Boston’s first and only hit in a showcase of masterful pitching by Detroit that guided the Tigers to a 1-0 win. Detroit now leads the ALCS 1-0 over the Red Sox.
Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez set the tone in the early going as he managed to become the second pitcher in history to strike out four batters in one inning during a post season. After striking out Jacoby Ellsbury, Sanchez threw a wild third strike that allowed Shane Victorino to reach first base. Then, Sanchez eventually got David Ortiz and Mike Napoli on strikes to cap off the four strikeout inning.
Although Sanchez didn’t strike out four batters every inning the rest of the way, Detroit pitching combined for 17 punch outs, including 12 by Sanchez. The Red Sox still managed to create opportunities on the offensive end by drawing six walks. They had men in scoring position in four out of nine innings but were just unable to convert. After Sanchez’s 6 masterful no-hit innings, the Detroit bullpen held the Red Sox hitless until Nava’s ninth inning single off Joaquin Benoit, who retired Xander Boagerts with pinchrunner Quintin Berry on second for the save.
Boston starter Jon Lester was magnificent as well, holding the Tigers to one run and six hits through 6.1 innings of work. However, a lazy fly ball by Jhonny Peralta that dropped for a single proved to be sufficient for the Tigers as it drove in the game’s only run. Peralta was the only offensive standout on either team as he recorded three hits.
Despite the loss, the Red Sox can be encouraged by another strong outing by their bullpen. Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow, and Koji Uehara did a good job keeping Boston within striking distance as they combined for 2.2 innings of shutout baseball.
However, for the first time in a long time, the Red Sox offense could not find a way to get the job done. Detroit now holds a 1-0 lead in the ALCS heading into Game 2 on Sunday night. Unfortunately, offense won’t get any easier for the Red Sox, as likely Cy Young winner Max Scherzer takes the mound for the Tigers opposite Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz.