(SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Red Sox are on the cusp of their first World
Series appearance since 2007. To get there, though, they may have to get past
the best pitcher in the American League this season.
Max Scherzer will try to keep the Red Sox's champagne on ice and extend the
Detroit Tigers' season on Saturday, as the American League Championship Series
shifts back to Fenway Park for Game 6.
Scherzer could be on his way to an AL Cy Young Award after going 21-3 this
year with a 2.90 ERA. It's been more of the same for him in the postseason, as
he has won twice and has pitched to a 2.25 ERA in three appearances.
"You just go out there and pitch your game," Scherzer said. "Baseball is still
the same, sixty feet and six inches (from the mound to home plate), and you
have to throw strikes. The expectations and pressure doesn't mean you change.
"That's something that's always been instilled in me, and doesn't matter what
the situation or what the game means, I'm always going to approach the game
the same way."
Scherzer was terrific in Game 2 against the Red Sox, as he limited them to a
run, two hits and struck out 13 over seven innings. However, after exiting
with a four-run lead, he had to watch the beleaguered Tigers' bullpen implode
in a 6-5 loss.
"I told them I was done," Scherzer said after that one. "They wanted me done.
They had it all lined up how they wanted to approach the eighth inning."
Now Scherzer will be tasked with staving off elimination for the Tigers, who
dropped two of three at home to the Red Sox, including Thursday's pivotal Game
5 contest at Comerica Park.
Mike Napoli had three hits, including a home run, and scored twice and the Red
Sox reached Anibal Sanchez for four runs, then held on for a 4-3 win.
Boston managed nine hits off of Sanchez after not getting one off of him in
six innings in Game 1. In fact, the Red Sox had tallied just 14 hits and three
runs off Detroit starters through the first four games combined.
Jon Lester (1-1), who lost Game 1, was charged with two runs in 5 1/3 innings
to get the win, as he gave up seven hits, three walks and struck out three.
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara continued to impress, as he retired every batter he
faced in a five-out save, his first since Sept. 20.
"Maybe it's the same five outs numbers-wise, but it was completely different
because it was the playoffs," said Uehara, who has pitched five scoreless
innings this series.
Miguel Cabrera had an RBI single for Detroit but was thrown out at home in the
first inning and grounded into a double play in the seventh that scored a run
but killed a potential rally.
"We were fortunate we got a couple of ground-ball double plays ... none bigger
than the first and third with nobody out to Miggy," said Red Sox manager John
Prince Fielder's drought continued for the Tigers, as the first baseman has
now gone 17 straight postseason games without an RBI.
"We have to go to Fenway and we have to fight hard enough to win a game," said
Cabrera. "If we do that, we have to keep fighting and get the next one. We've
done this before, and we've got great pitchers."
To make matters worse for the Tigers, they lost catcher Alex Avila with what
the team said was a left knee patellar tendon strain. Avila was hurt in a
collision at the plate with Red Sox catcher David Ross in the second inning
and was taken out after four.
There have been four one-run games in the series, which already matches the
ALCS record, set by the Orioles and Indians in 1997.
"I just think that's playoffs," said Boston outfielder Jonny Gomes.
"Especially the Sox and Tigers. That's about as even as it gets right there."
Hoping for a little more of a cushion on Saturday will be Boston righty Clay
Buchholz, who was 12-1 during the season with a 1.74 ERA, but has pitched to a
6.17 ERA in two starts this postseason.
Buchholz was spared a loss in his Game 2 assignment, but was not sharp, as he
allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. Of course, David Ortiz got
him off the hook with a game-tying grand slam, as the Red Sox rallied from
five runs down in a 6-5 win.
"There were a couple of innings I let the ball get out of the zone and they
hit it out of the park," Buchholz said. "I need to minimize the damage a
little bit better. Both video and talking to whoever it is on the staff, you
can sort of pick each other's brain and see what I was feeling, what I could
have done differently and how to get better from it."
Recent history is not in the Red Sox favor, as the last four series that have
featured a 3-2 lead, the team losing Game 5 has gone on to win the ALCS.
If necessary, Game 7 will be on Sunday.
The Sports Network