The Tigers were twice in good position to break a scoreless tie against Jon Lester and the Red Sox in the fifth inning of Game 1 of the ALCS, but poor base running decisions left them with nothing at the end of the inning. Jhonny Peralta led off with a double to left-center. Omar Infante followed up with a sharp grounder to Mike Napoli at first base, who fired to second base as Peralta had initially broken towards third base. Shortstop Stephen Drew applied the tag on Peralta just before his foot got back to the bag, leaving the Tigers with a runner on first base and one out.
They continued to threaten, however, as Alex Aliva lined a single to right field. Infante was able to advance to third base when Shane Victorino hilariously kicked the ball in front of himself. With runners on the corners and one out, the Tigers score in a number of ways — any kind of hit, a fly ball of moderate depth, and most non-double play ground balls. Jose Iglesias hit a slow curve on the ground to third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who fired home to catcher David Ross, nailing Infante with plenty of room to spare. Austin Jackson meekly flied out to right field to end the frame, the Tigers still scoreless.
The Tigers were, by far, baseball’s worst base running team during the regular season, according to Baseball Prospectus.
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez is pitching extremely well, having racked up ten strikeouts in five innings of work. He has yet to allow a hit, though he has walked three batters. For the Tigers, it is imperative they provide him a modicum of run support, but to Lester’s credit, he has looked quite strong on the mound as well, blanking the Tigers on five hits and no walks while striking out five.
Twins third baseman Miguel Sano has been suspended one game for his role in Saturday’s altercation with the Tigers, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Sano will appeal his suspension, so he’ll be eligible to play until that is resolved.
On Saturday, Tigers outfielder JaCoby Jones was hit in the face by Twins pitcher Justin Haley. The Tigers’ Matt Boyd threw behind Sano when he came to the plate in the fifth inning, seemingly exacting revenge. Sano took exception, catcher James McCann pushed his glove into Sano’s face, and the benches emptied. Both Boyd and Sano were ejected from the game.
Sano has hit well in the early going, batting .241/.413/.569 with four home runs and 14 RBI with an MLB-best 17 walks in 75 plate appearances. Losing Sano for only one game won’t be the biggest deal for the Twins. Eduardo Escobar would get the start at third base to fill in for Sano if he loses his appeal.
Boyd was fined an undisclosed amount and not suspended, per MLB.com’s Jason Beck.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes has been suspended four games and fined an undisclosed amount for throwing at Orioles third baseman Manny Machado on Sunday. Barnes was exacting revenge for Machado’s slide which injured second baseman Dustin Pedroia on Friday, and was ejected immediately after throwing the pitch at Machado.
Barnes is appealing his suspension, so he will be able to participate in games until the issue is resolved. The 26-year-old right-hander has a 3.60 ERA and an 11/6 K/BB ratio in 10 innings so far this season.
The suspension is rather light considering Barnes’ intent. Barnes missed, thankfully, as he hit Machado’s bat rather than his helmet. Had he hit his intended target, though, baseball might’ve been out one superstar third baseman. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports wrote today that Major League Baseball needs to beef up its punishment for players attempting to injure other players. And he’s totally right about that. The punishment is neither enough to deter players from attempting to injure their peers, nor is it enough for teams to deter their own players from doing so.