After a 7-3 loss to the Tigers in Game 4 of the ALCS, the Red Sox bounced back to take a 4-3 victory in Game 5 on Thursday. With the win, Boston takes a 3-2 lead in the series and can close out the series Saturday at Fenway Park.
Mike Napoli led off the second inning with a home run off Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez to begin the scoring for the Red Sox. Jonny Gomes then reached base on an error by Miguel Cabrera. Gomes moved to third on a double by Xander Bogaerts and another double from David Ross drove him home. Bogaerts came in to score on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and the Red Sox opened up a 3-0 lead.
Sanchez managed to last six innings despite allowing those three runs in the second, but was hardly the same pitcher that didn't allow a hit to the Red Sox in Game 1 of this series. Overall, he gave up four runs (three earned) and nine hits, while striking out five batters. Boston scored its fourth run in the third inning on a wild pitch that enabled Napoli to score. The Red Sox first baseman batted 3-for-4 in the game, adding a double and single to that home run.
Tigers catcher Alex Avila may have been inhibited from blocking Sanchez's wild pitch due to a strained knee that he suffered in a home-plate collision with Ross in the second inning. He left the game in the fourth inning and was replaced by Brayan Pena.
The Tigers slowly chipped away at the Red Sox lead, scoring one run in both the fifth and sixth innings. Detroit had their best chance to tie the game or even take the lead in the seventh when Junichi Tazawa gave up back-to-back singles to Jose Iglesias and Torii Hunter. Iglesias came around to score when Cabrera grounded into a double play. But that effectively killed any chance for a Detroit rally. Craig Breslow took over for Tazawa and finished the inning by getting Prince Fielder to ground out.
Fielder was a constant target of boos from the Comerica Park crowd as he continues to show no extra-base power. He's batting .210 (4-for-19) in the ALCS with no home runs or RBI. After his first-inning single, Fielder grounded out in his remaining three plate appearances. In those three at-bats, he saw a total of five pitches.
Red Sox manager John Farrell made a seemingly curious decision to bring in closer Koji Uehara with one out in the eighth inning. Uehara had pitched a five-out save only one other time this season. But he made it look relatively easy against the lower half of the Tigers' batting order. Uehara struck out Jhonny Peralta and Omar Infante to end the eighth inning. And in the ninth, he recorded three straight flyouts against Pena, Austin Jackson and Iglesias (who fought through a nine-pitch at-bat) to close out the ballgame.
As MLB.com's Jason Beck points out, the last four times an ALCS was tied 2-2 after four games, the winner of Game 5 went on to win the series. In three of those four instances, the Game 5 winner finished off the series in six games.
Game 6 will be Saturday in Boston and televised on FOX. The game will start at 4:37 p.m. ET if the NLCS between the Dodgers and Cardinals goes to a Game 7. If the Cards close out their series on Friday, the Tigers and Red Sox will play at 8:07 p.m. ET. Max Scherzer pitches for the Tigers, while Clay Buchholz takes the mound for the Red Sox.