Desperate to awaken his dozing offense, Master Chef Jim Leyland tinkered with the recipe. He retained the basic ingredients but changed their order of appearance, resulting in a savory 7-3 victory for the Tigers over the Red Sox on Wednesday night in Detroit.
Leyland demoted scuffling center fielder Austin Jackson to the eighth spot in the batting order, moving everyone else up one spot. The gamble paid off, as dueces were wild–Jackson had two hits, two walks and two RBI’s.
He started the scoring in the bottom of the second. Exercising great plate discipline, he coaxed a bases-loaded walk off former Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jake Peavy to get the Tigers on the board, 1-0.
Boston then failed to turn what would have been an inning-ending double play. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia bobbled Jose Iglesias’s hard ground ball, forcing Jackson at second base but failing to get the swift Tiger shortstop on the relay to first. Jhonny Peralta scored on the play for the inning’s second run.
Torii Hunter followed by smashing a ground ball double down the third base line, clearing the bases to bring the tally to 4-0.
Miguel Cabrera then flipped a soft line drive over Pedroia at second to score Hunter and complete a five run inning, the Tigers’ heaviest offensive outburst of the postseason.
The Tigers continued to abuse Peavy in the fourth. Omar Infante stroked a long ground-rule double to left to lead off and scored on Jackson’s hard single off the glove of Pedroia into right field.
Jackson promptly stole second base off relief pitcher Brandon Workman and scored on Cabrera’s single to center, bringing the score to 7-0.
Meanwhile, Tiger starter Doug Fister was busy holding the Boston offense in check with a variety of offspeed pitches and well-located fastballs. He held them scoreless through five innings, yielding one hit in each inning.
The Red Sox finally broke into the scoring column in the sixth as Jarrod Saltalamachhia singled to center to drive in Mike Napoli.
Phil Coke replaced Fister to begin the seventh and gave up a line drive single to left by Jacoby Ellsbury. Al Alburquerque relieved Coke to face Shane Victorino, who doubled in Ellsbury to make the score 7-2.
Drew Smyly was brought in to stem the rally and retired sluggers David Ortiz and Napoli to prevent further damage.
Smyly continued his perfect outing by retiring the Sox in order in the eighth.
Joaquin Benoit entered the game in the ninth and gave up a double to Xander Bogaerts and a triple to Ellsbury to start the inning. Ellsbury’s triple, his fourth hit of the night, was a hot shot down the first base line which appeared to take a bad hop over a diving Prince Fielder.
With nervous Tiger fans fearing a reprise of Sunday night’s late-inning debacle, Benoit quickly steadied himself to strike out Victorino and Pedroia. Facing Ortiz for the first time since giving up Sunday’s grand slam, Benoit got him to fly out to right on a full count pitch, sealing the Tiger win, 7-3, and evening up the ALCS at two games apiece.