Can the Detroit Tigers force a game seven in their best-of-seven American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox? I believe they can and will win game six on the road on Saturday.
It will all start with the respective performances of the two teams’ batting lineups. Despite being down three-games-to-two, the Tigers offense has been much better than Boston’s. Detroit has a .256 batting average and a .333 on base percentage; in contrast, the Red Sox have put up a .206 batting average and a .268 on base percentage.
If you take away one inning in game five of this series (a three-run second inning by Boston), the Tigers win easily. Tiger starter Anibal Sanchez lacked his normal control and bite on his pitches. The fact that he only yielded three earned runs in six innings of that game is largely a reflection on how the Red Sox are currently swinging the bats poorly as a unit.
Don’t expect Max Scherzer, who will get the start in this game for Detroit, to be as generous with opportunities for Boston batters. Scherzer looked plenty comfortable pitching at Fenway Park in game two of this series, going seven innings, allowing one run, two hits and two walks, while striking out an eye-popping 13 batters. That performance served as a direct contrast to the work Clay Buchholz did on the pitcher’s mound in the same game. He was smacked for eight hits and five runs in just 5 2/3 innings pitched. He’ll start here again and there is no reason to anticipate a different outcome.
Now the big X factor in this contest is the relief pitching for Detroit. It has consistently pitched poorly following great starts by the Tigers’ ace rotation. That said, don’t expect them to be a problem in this game. The reason: they likely won’t get a chance.
With the Tigers’ facing elimination, manager Jim Leyland has been willing to junk normal ideas about using relievers and throw out the best arms possible. For example, in the do-or-die game five of the American League Division Series against the Oakland A’s, he used Scherzer as a reliever rather than relying on the bullpen fully.
As a result, not only with Scherzer try to last as long as possible in this contest (because if they lose he doesn’t have to save his arm) but also expect someone like Doug Fister (who held the Red Sox to two runs in six innings in game four to pitch) or even Justin Verlander, who would be the game seven starter to come out of the bullpen if absolutely necessary.
Bottom line: The season is on the line and the Tigers won’t let bad relief pitching end their campaign for a spot in the World Series.
Take Detroit, on at 2.00, to win.
Back the Detroit Tigers at 2.00
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