The American League Championship Series is 2-2.
Tigers starter Doug Fister delivered six innings of one-run ball and the Detroit offense broke out in a major way in Wednesday night’s 7-3 ALCS Game 4 victory over the visiting Red Sox at Comerica Park. Fister dealt with at least one Boston baserunner in each of his six frames, but he was able to work out of those jams while racking up seven strikeouts. He surrendered eight total hits but issued only one walk.
Red Sox starter Jake Peavy pitched a perfect first inning, but the wheels fell off for him in the bottom of the second. He yielded five runs in that frame on three walks, two singles and a double, and then the Tigers tagged him for two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Peavy made it to just 65 pitches and has now yielded 21 earned runs in 18 1/3 career postseason frames, dating back to his days with the Padres.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland made a couple of bold moves with his lineup heading into Game 4, dropping Austin Jackson to the No. 8 spot and bumping Torii Hunter to leadoff. Miguel Cabrera hit second for the first time since 2004. And it all worked out perfectly. Jackson, who was buried in a postseason slump, snapped out of it for two hits, two walks and two RBI in four trips to the plate. Hunter and Cabrera also drove in two.
Jacoby Ellsbury went 4-for-5 and the Red Sox actually out-hit the Tigers, but that will soon be forgotten.
Game 5 of the ALCS is on Thursday at 8:00 p.m. ET in Detroit. It’ll be Jon Lester vs. Anibal Sanchez.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
Orioles’ center fielder Michael Bourn is expected to be sidelined for four weeks while he rehabs a broken ring finger on his right hand, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck. Bourn broke the finger while playing catch with a football after a spring training workout.
The veteran outfielder re-signed with the club earlier this week on a minor league deal and was prepared to compete for a bench role this season. He’s in line to receive a $2 million salary if he makes the major league roster and can make an additional $3.5 million in incentives based on a set number of plate appearances. Now, however, his chances of cracking the roster out of spring training look considerably diminished, as his current timetable gives him an approximate return date of March 25 if all goes well.
Bourn had an impressive, if short-lived run with the Orioles following his trade to Baltimore last August, batting .283/.358/.435 with two home runs and a .793 OPS in 55 PA. While still somewhat removed from the totals that brought him an All-Star nod with the Braves in 2012, his defensive chops should give the Orioles some depth in center once he’s healthy again.