Tigers break out the lumber in the sixth inning, take 5-0 lead in ALCS Game 2

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Through the first 14 innings, the ALCS had been a pitcher-dominated affair. Anibal Sanchez and the Tiger bullpen held the Red Sox hitless through eight and two-thirds innings in Game 1 and Scherzer has held the Sox hitless through five in Game 2. To their credit, the Sox pitching has been nearly as good — that is, until the top of the sixth inning.

With one out, facing starter Clay Buchholz with a narrow 1-0 lead, Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera launched a solo home run over the Green Monster in left field for what was, at the time, an insurance run. Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez followed up with back-to-back doubles, the latter scoring the former. Later in the inning, with two outs, Alex Avila laced a 91 MPH Buchholz fastball well over the fence in right field for a two-run homer, putting the Tigers up 5-0.

Omar Infante then lined a single to left-center, ending Buchholz’s night. Red Sox manager John Farrell called on Brandon Workman to see them through the end of the sixth. After walking Don Kelly, Workman got Austin Jackson to ground out to, at long last, end the inning.

Oh, and about that no-hitter Scherzer has going? He has nine strikeouts to go along with it. Red Sox batters have swung and missed at 15 of his 76 pitches thus far. This could get interesting.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.