Tigers ace Justin Verlander whiffed 10 batters and allowed just one run on four hits over eight innings in Tuesday’s ALCS Game 3 against the Red Sox, becoming the first pitcher in postseason history to fan 10 batters and yield four-or-fewer hits in three consecutive outings. But that’s not the story here.
The Red Sox got a solo home run from first baseman Mike Napoli in the top of the seventh inning to snap Verlander’s shutout bid and rode that to a 1-0 win over host Detroit at a cold and gray Comerica Park.
Boston starter John Lackey did his own Verlander impression, yielding just four hits over 6 2/3 frames while fanning eight. He did not issue a walk and was visibly frustrated when Boston manager John Farrell decided to go to the bullpen with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. But that move worked out.
Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara combined to keep the Tigers scoreless, navigating in and out of a couple tight jams. The Red Sox — who battled back from a 5-0 deficit to win Game 2 at Boston’s Fenway Park — now boast a 2-1 lead in this best-of-seven American League Championship Series.
Game 4 of the ALCS is scheduled to get underway Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.