Napoli’s second inning solo home run to center travelled nearly 450 feet and gave Boston a lead they would not lose.
As the teams recover in Boston, here are a few observations from last night:
–Lester was not sharp.
He did not trust his changeup and could not establish his fastball for strikes.
In his 98-pitch outing, Lester walked three and surrendered seven hits. In his 60 strikes, five were swung on and missed.
With the way he nibbled around the strike zone, it is amazing he threw that high a percentage of strikes.
–Xander Bogaerts addition to the lineup was the right call for manager John Farrell.
Before being pinch ran for in the ninth, Bogaerts went one-for-three with a walk and a run scored. He also played a good game defensively at third, which is not his natural position.
Expect him in the lineup when the series resumes Saturday.
–Dustin Pedroia is heating up.
His eye at the plate improved from Game 4 as he stroked two singles and made up for his crucial botched double play Wednesday by turning two Thursday.
There are times when he tries to do too much. When he relaxes, like Thursday, good things happen.
–Shane Victorino and Stephen Drew are struggling.
Combined, in Game 5, they went 0-for-nine with four strikeouts. As a team, Boston batters struck out eight.
Perhaps shuffle Victorino down in the order Saturday?
–Every postseason series has a “Bill Buckner Moment.” That is the one play you see and realize the series is over.
Recent examples that actually worked in favor for the Red sox include St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jeff Suppan being doubled off third in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series (by David Ortiz, no less) and Josh Beckett shutting down the Cleveland Indians in Game 5 of the 2007 ALCS.
Miguel Cabrera running through third base coach Tom Brookens’ stop sign to end the first may have been that moment.
Boston followed up what surely would have been a deficit if Cabrera holds—or Brookens did not initially wave him home—into a three-run lead in the top of the second.
–Hopefully Tigers catcher Alex Avila is not seriously hurt after being bowled over by David during at a play at the plate in the second.
Avila twisted his knee when the burly Ross tried to score on a grounder to second.
There was no animosity after the play and Ross patted Avila on the behind after.
Avila is not having a great series offensively, but does a tremendous job calling pitches for Detroit’s pitchers.
If he cannot go Saturday, it would be a blow for the Tigers.
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.
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