Oh how quickly the narratives change.
The Tigers’ pitchers were steamrolling the Red Sox in Game 2 of the series with their second near no-hitters until David Ortiz struck with a game-tying grand slam in the eighth inning. Boston clearly had all the momentum, but that momentum only allowed them to eek out a 1-0 win over the Tigers in Game 3. It was clear that Detroit couldn’t hit at this point — and they probably were never going to hit again, ever — so obviously they jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first four innings of Game 4.
Boston eventually got on the board with two runs of their own, but the Tigers cruised to a 7-3 final score to even the ALCS at two games apiece. The story of the game is going to be Jim Leyland jump-starting the offense by mixing things up — Austin Jackson was dropped to eighth in the order and everyone else was moved up a spot — but for all we talk about “needing to do something different”, the order of the hitters probably wasn’t an actually large factor in the run scoring. I don’t want to completely discount the psychology of sport, but, although we pretend like these types of moves can make a 3-4 run difference, the reality is that slumping teams and players break out without “mixing things up” all the time.
What needed to happen was for the hitters to hit, and they did just that on Wednesday night. 16 baserunners (in 8 innings) provided plenty of run-scoring opportunities — opportunities of which they took advantage. A particular tip of the cap goes out to Austin Jackson who got on track with two singles and two walks in four plate appearances.
But let’s not forget Doug Fister who was excellent as Detroit’s starter. He’s not a power strikeout pitcher like Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Anibal Sanchez, so many thought Boston could jump on him, but he did his part to keep them off balance with seven strikeouts, one walk, and one run allowed in six innings of work. Two runs were tagged on against the bullpen — one against Benoit in the ninth, which is concerning — but they were able to eventually close it out this time.
The only thing we know after four games in this series is that we know nothing about this series. Except probably that it’s going to continue to be really, really good.