The Tigers escaped the ALDS against the A’s despite scoring more than three runs just once in five games. They’re going to need to do better than that against the Red Sox, and it will have to start at the top with leadoff man Austin Jackson.
Looking lost at the plate, Jackson went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts on Thursday to finish the ALDS 2-for-20 with 13 strikeouts and just one walk. He scored one of Detroit’s 17 runs in the series.
Jackson fared far better in the regular season against the Red Sox, batting .478 and scoring seven runs in the six games in which he played. Overall, the Tigers were 4-3 against the Red Sox, despite being outscored 43-34.
(20 of those runs the Red Sox scored came in one game, the last played by the two teams back on Sept. 4. The Tigers’ starter in that one, Rick Porcello, isn’t part of the postseason rotation.)
The rotations for the ALCS have yet to be announced, but they’ll probably shake out like this:
Games 1 & 5: Anibal Sanchez vs. Jon Lester
Games 2 & 6: Max Scherzer vs. John Lackey
Games 3 & 7: Justin Verlander vs. Clay Buchholz
Game 4: Doug Fister vs. Jake Peavy
Those pitching matchups are obviously the Tigers’ biggest advantage in the series, while the Red Sox hold edges offensively and defensively.
One way for the Tigers to even those up would be to have Jackson starting getting on base in front of Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers were 43-24 when he reached base twice in a game this year, which is actually a better winning percentage than they had when Miggy homered (.642 to .625).
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.