Whatever caused the 17-minute second inning power outage at Comerica Park last night appeared to have a ripple effect on the Tiger offense, as they fell to Boston 1-0 to go down two games to one in the ALCS.
Coming off a tough 6-5 loss to Boston on Sunday night, the Tigers’ woes continued as they were shut out by John Lackey and three Red Sox relievers. They managed a paltry six hits, only one of which was for extra bases.
Lackey was superb throughout his six and two-third innings, relying mainly on a diving curveball to neutralize the Tiger attack. He struck out eight along the way.
Tiger starter Justin Verlander was also very effective, but gave up a homer to left to Mike Napoli on a center-cut fastball in the seventh inning that tagged him with the loss. It was another stingy postseason performance for the tough luck righthander, as he yielded only four hits, walked one, and struck out ten.
The Tigers were not without their offensive chances. Torii Hunter and Prince Fielder singled in the first to bring up Victor Martinez with runners on first and third and two out. His fly to center ended the threat.
Jhonny Peralta doubled up the alley in left to start the fifth inning, and Alex Avila advanced him to third base with a splintered-bat rollout to second. Omar Infante struck out and Andy Dirks, getting his first start in left field since last month, grounded out to end the inning.
The Tigers had two base runners in the seventh after a Martinez single and Avila walk, but Infante grounded into a force play to retire the side.
The Bengals’ biggest opportunity came in the eighth inning as Boston lefty Craig Breslow walked Austin Jackson with one out.
After Boston manager John Farrell replaced Breslow with righty Junichi Tazawa, Hunter slashed a single to right, sending Jackson to third and bringing Miguel Cabrera to the plate and the crowd to its feet.
Unfortunately for Tiger loyalists, Tazawa was up to the challenge. He attacked Cabrera with outside fastballs, striking him out with four pitches for the second out.
Closer Koji Uehara was then called upon to face Prince Fielder, and was equally efficient as he struck out the cleanup hitter with three pitches.
After Detroit relievers Jose Veras, Phil Coke and Al Alburquerque retired the Sox in order in the top of the ninth, Victor Martinez lined a single to left to lead off the bottom half. Martinez seemed to hurt his leg as he pulled up around first base, and was replaced by pinch runner Hernan Perez.
After a flagrantly called low strike on Jhonny Peralta by home plate umpire Ron (mea?) Kulpa, Peralta grounded into a double play. Avila ended the game by striking out on a full count pitch, dashing the Tiger hopes for a late inning comeback similar to the one Boston produced Sunday night.
This has been a tense, well-pitched series, with each game decided by a single run. The two teams meet again for Game 4 on Wednesday night.
Let’s hope the Tigers turn the power back on.