John Lackey pitched 6.2 shutout innings and Mike Napoli provided the game’s only run with a solo shot to left in the seventh.
After another fingernail-chomping game, here are a few random thoughts:
–Whatever animosity Red Sox Nation still felt coming into this postseason with Lackey should be gone. Manager John Farrell could not have asked for a better performance from his veteran.
Lackey’s command was outstanding. He mixed his pitches and hit his spots, keeping Tigers hitters off balance.
In 97 pitches, Lackey threw 66 strikes. Tiger hitters swung and missed 14.
–Perhaps the best sign in the return of Lackey, however, is that the bulldog mentality has returned.
When the lights went out before the bottom of the second, Lackey looked ready to bite someone’s head off.
When Farrell removed him with two outs in the seventh, he bit Farrell’s head off.
Any manager is going to be thrilled to see that intensity. Red flag’s go up in manager’s heads when they see a starter relieved about being yanked.
Lackey wanted the ball. He is back.
–Napoli’s home run was the first time in the ALCS he hit the ball out of the infield.
As with most of the Red Sox offense, he struck out swinging before that shot.
You know who saw the most pitches Tuesday for Boston? Napoli, with 22.
–Alex Avila saw 24 pitches for the Tigers, half of those were balls.
–Speaking of the Tigers, manager Jim Leyland has not had a good series.
His decision to bring in Phil Coke to face David Ortiz in the ninth was a real head-scratcher.
If Leyland did not trust Coke with a four-run lead Sunday, then why would he bring him in down a run Tuesday?
For the record, Ortiz grounded out. The move worked.
The larger issue is Leyland’s lack of trust in his bullpen. If Leyland uses Coke Sunday and gets that same groundout into the shift, we are talking Wednesday about why the Tigers have a 3-0 lead in the series.
–What must Verlander and Max Scherzer be thinking to themselves?
They pitched no-hit ball into the middle part of the game and did not win either start.
You cannot look much better than Verlander did and lose.
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.
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