The Red Sox and Tigers gave us baseball's second 1-0 game of the day in Game 1 of the ALCS, following the Cardinals' victory by that score over the Dodgers earlier Saturday. With its win, Detroit takes a 1-0 lead in the series. However, the Red Sox and Tigers may have one-upped their National League counterparts in terms of drama.
Anibal Sanchez and four Detroit relievers combined to take a no-hitter into the ninth inning, until Boston's Daniel Nava broke up the gem with a single into center field. It would have been the first combined no-hitter in postseason history. Sanchez pitched six innings, striking out 12 Red Sox batters while walking six. Jose Veras, Al Alburquerque and Drew Smyly kept the no-hitter going until Joaquin Benoit gave up Nava's single with one out in the ninth.
Potential no-hitter aside, the Tigers had a slim margin to protect as the Red Sox pitchers were yielding very little themselves. Jon Lester allowed one run and six hits over 6.1 innings, while Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Koji Uehara threw 2.2 innings of scoreless baseball to give their team a chance to win.
Detroit scored the game's lone run in the sixth inning on a RBI single by Jhonny Peralta. Peralta continued his strong postseason by batting 3-for-4. He was a surprising starter in left field for Game 1. Not only had Peralta appeared to win his shortstop job back with his hitting, but asking him to play left field at Fenway Park seemed to be flirting with danger.
Despite not getting a hit until the ninth inning, the Red Sox had several opportunities to score earlier in the game, thanks to Sanchez's wildness. Following a Jacoby Ellsbury strikeout, Shane Victorino struck out but reached first base on a wild pitch. He stole second base and Dustin Pedroia walked. Sanchez then struck out David Ortiz and Mike Napoli to end the inning.
If you're keeping count, you're correct: Sanchez had four strikeouts in that first inning. As the New York Times' Tyler Kepner pointed out, Sanchez was the first pitcher with a four-strikeout inning in the postseason since 1908, when Orval Overall (what a name!) did it for the Cubs. (Perhaps it's worth mentioning that Sanchez was once a Red Sox prospect, traded to the Marlins in the 2005 deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston.)
Boston's best scoring chance may have been in the sixth when Sanchez walked the bases loaded with two outs. He struck out Stephen Drew on five pitches to end the threat, however. The Red Sox really never got a better opportunity, though Quintin Berry — pinch-running for Nava — did steal second base with two outs in the ninth. Xander Bogaerts popped out to shortstop to end the game, however.
Game 2 of the ALCS is on Sunday at 8:07 p.m. ET. Max Scherzer starts for the Tigers and the Red Sox will counter with Clay Buchholz, who's flipping spots with John Lackey in Boston's postseason rotation. The game will be telecast on FOX.