Sunday, December 17, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Tigers turn to Justin Verlander for boost after collapse

DETROIT — The last time Justin Verlander took the mound, the Tigers' season was on the line.

The stakes won't be quite that high for his next start, but Detroit could certainly use another brilliant performance from its star right-hander after blowing a chance to take control of the AL Championship Series.

The Tigers wasted a five-run lead Sunday night in Game 2, allowing the Red Sox to even the series with a 6-5 victory. David Ortiz's tying grand slam in the eighth inning snapped Boston out of a hitting funk, and if the Red Sox win the pennant, there may be little doubt about the turning point in this series.

Verlander's job is to steady the defending AL champion Tigers in today's Game 3 at Comerica Park.

"Obviously that was a tough one," Verlander said. "At the same time you know this series is going to be a dogfight. Nobody is going to walk over anybody."

The Tigers looked like they were ready to roll through the series after they won the opener and took a 5-0 lead in Game 2. Anibal Sanchez held Boston hitless for six innings Saturday, and Max Scherzer allowed a run and two hits in seven innings Sunday.

Boston trailed 5-1 in the eighth in Game 2 before a remarkable rally against four relievers. Ortiz tied it with a two-out grand slam off closer and former Ray Joaquin Benoit.

"I made a mistake that I take full responsibility for," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I should have just reminded him that we didn't want Ortiz to really beat us. He tried to make a great pitch. He tried to get it low and away out of the strike zone, but he didn't get it there."

Boston managed to win one of two at home despite striking out 32 times, eight more than the previous record for the first two games of an LCS set by the Dodgers a day earlier. The Red Sox are hopeful their bats will come around, starting against Verlander.

"I think we certainly gained some confidence in the last couple innings," Boston manager John Farrell said. "The work of Sanchez and Scherzer has been nothing short of spectacular. … We feel like (today's) starter in Verlander is going to be a similar, if not a more difficult, challenge than what we faced already."

After a pedestrian regular season by his standards, Verlander pitched 15 scoreless innings in the AL Division Series against the Athletics, including eight in a winner-take-all Game 5. The Tigers have taken no-hitters into at least the sixth inning in three straight games, a remarkable feat even for a staff that set a major-league record with 1,428 strikeouts during the regular season.

Detroit's starters have picked up where they left off during last year's American League playoffs, when the Tigers' rotation posted a 1.02 ERA through the Division Series and ALCS. Detroit won the AL pennant before being swept by the Giants in the World Series.

"We've got a starting rotation that's relentless, and I said that before the series started. Every guy has their unique ability to shut down a team in their own way," Verlander said. "I'm just one of the four guys right now."

The Red Sox will send John Lackey to face Verlander. Lackey was able to make 29 starts during the regular season, posting a 3.52 ERA after missing all of 2012 following elbow ligament replacement surgery.

Lackey will try to hold Detroit's offense in check and hope the Red Sox can become the first team this postseason to break through against Verlander.

"We've got a great lineup. I'm going into the game with a great group of guys behind me," Lackey said. "Those guys are going to fight him."

Championship Series

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Cardinals 2, Dodgers 1 (TV: TBS)

Game 1: Cards 3, Dodgers 2, 13 innings

Game 2: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0

Monday: Dodgers 3, Cardinals 0

Tonight: at Los Angeles, 8:07

Wednesday: at Los Angeles, 4:07

Friday: at St. Louis, 8:37*

Saturday: at St. Louis, 8:37*

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tigers 1, Red Sox 1 (TV: Ch. 13)

Game 1: Tigers 1, Red Sox 0

Game 2: Red Sox 6, Tigers 5

Today: at Detroit, 4:07

Wednesday: at Detroit, 8:07

Thursday: at Detroit, 8:07

Saturday: at Boston, 4:37*

Sunday: at Boston, 8:07*

* If necessary

Comments
Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There were a lot of reasons the Rays didn’t start the process of trading some of their bigger-name, higher-paid players at last week’s winter meetings.Most obvious was them not finding the just-right deal to move closer Alex Colome...
Published: 12/16/17
No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Here’s the one thing we definitely know:Rays officials headed home from the winter meetings and back across I-4 Thursday without making deals to trade any of their bigger-name, higher-paid players. Not closer Alex Colome, not third...
Published: 12/14/17
Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

Are Tampa Bay Rays going to make a major deal involving Alex Colome, others? Well …

UPDATE, 4:02: It doesn't sound like the Rays and Cardinals will be making a deal today, Derrick Goold writing for the St. Louis Post Dispatch that Cardinals execs "leave the Walt Disney Dolphin resort with good feel for what Tampa Bay would be willin...
Published: 12/14/17
Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

LAKE BUENA VISTA — LHP Jonny Venters got as far as Triple A in September. Now the former All-Star is positioned to make it all the way back to the majors for the first time since 2012, re-signing with the Rays and headlining Thursday’s announcement o...
Published: 12/14/17
Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Veteran Jonny Venters, prospect Joe McCarthy among 13 Tampa Bay Rays spring invitees

Inspiring veteran LHP Jonny Venters and intriguing prospect 1B/OF Joe McCarthy are among 13 players invited to major-league spring training camp with the Rays.Others coming as a result of signing minor-league contracts with invites are: RHP R.J. Alan...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

Tampa Bay Rays lose RHP Burch Smith in Rule 5 draft, keep Nick Ciuffo

The Rays lost RHP Burch Smith in Thursday's Rule 5 draft but were happy to see him get an opportunity in Kansas City.They also were pleased to hang on to C Nick Ciuffo, who was left exposed but not selected.Smith, 27, was acquired from the Padres as ...
Published: 12/14/17
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

UPDATE, 11:09: RHP Steve Cishek, who was a very effective addition to the Rays pen last season, has reunited with pitching coach Jim Hickey, agreeing to a deal with the Cubs.UPDATE, 10:40: Like most teams, Rays officials are heading out of the meetin...
Published: 12/14/17
Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

Disney-Fox deal gives ESPN control of local cable rights to Rays, Lightning games

As part of its deal to buy a massive package of 21st Century Fox assets, Disney will acquire Fox Sports Regional Networks, which control the local cable rights to a slew of professional teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Lightning.Assu...
Published: 12/14/17
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Published: 12/13/17

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Published: 12/13/17