The Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers finished first and second, respectively, in runs scored per game in the American League during the regular season.
In game four of the American League Championship series in Detroit on Wednesday they’ll show why they were both so prodigious. Neither starting pitcher – Doug Fister for the Tigers nor Jake Peavy for the Red Sox – is well-positioned to keep run scoring down.
Fister was simply mediocre in his American League Division Series against the A’s. He gave up seven hits and three runs in six innings. He also struck out just one batter. The fact that he couldn’t overpower A’s hitters (and likely will not be able to do the same against the Red Sox) augurs well for the Boston lineup.
After running the gauntlet of Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander – all of whom can throw a fastball in the mid-90 mile per hour range – the Red Sox get a pitcher in Fister who has a fastball that averages 88 mph. Boston ranked eleventh out of fifteen American League teams in terms of hitting against power pitchers like the ones they faced earlier in this series. Against softer throwers, they’ve done much better. In fact, the Red Sox batters have a combined lifetime batting average of .304 versus Fister.
As for Peavy, he pitched well in his one appearance in the American League Championships series, going 5 2/3 innings while yielding five hits and one run against the Tampa Bay Rays. Nevertheless, his overall track record in the post-season is not very good. In three starts total he owns an 8.22 ERA in 15 1/3 innings pitched. Not to mention much of the Tigers everyday lineup have done well in the past against Peavy.
Torii Hunter (.438 batting average), Austin Jackson (.321), Miguel Cabrera (.289, 3 home runs), Victor Martinez (.286) and Prince Fielder (.278) have gotten the better of him on numerous occasions. Finally, Peavy has been below average at Comerica Park in his five previous starts there. He’s gone 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA.
Finally, keep in mind that Comerica Park was the top ranked offensive stadium in the American League this year, according to ESPN.com’s MLB Park Factors. Lest you think that’s just a reflection on the Tigers potent hitting. Despite the Red Sox’s excelling production at the plate, Boston’s Fenway Park ranked twentieth in the Major Leagues in terms of run scoring.
Best bet: Expect the total run scoring to exceed 7.5 runs and take that proposition at 1.97.