New York Times
DETROIT - The Red Sox have had their triumphant moments in this AL Championship Series against Detroit, for sure, but they have also looked foolish at times flailing at Detroit's pitching.
Through the first four games of the ALCS, Boston had struck out 53 times. If the Red Sox keep it up, they could break the team record for strikeouts in a postseason series. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Diamondbacks set the record of 70 while beating the Yankees in seven games in the 2001 World Series.
To swing and miss against the Tigers is normal. The team has three starters who were among the best strikeout pitchers in the majors this season. Max Scherzer led the way with 240 strikeouts, followed by Justin Verlander (217) and Anibal Sanchez (202). As a team, the Tigers struck out a major-league record 1,428 batters.
"When we're able to execute our offspeed pitches," Scherzer said, "that's what makes us a tough team to face."
Striking out batters would seem a good thing, but Jim Leyland, the Detroit manager, said strikeouts required more pitches. If his starters were to lower their pitch counts, and their strikeouts, perhaps they could last deeper into games, which could help Leyland avoid using his shaky bullpen.
In any case, Leyland said this is the best postseason rotation he has had in his 22 years as a major-league manager.
The Red Sox led the majors in runs scored this season, albeit with a diverse and almost quirky lineup. They have speed at the top, slow-footed sluggers in the middle and a few extra pieces at the end. They can run, mash, essentially do it all. But they also had the fourth-highest strikeout total in the AL with 1,308.
All the strikeouts are part of their identity, Boston's manager, John Farrell, said. He said he would not ask Mike Napoli to look to make contact instead of swinging freely because, if he had, Napoli might not have hit his decisive homer in Game 3.
"We don't like to strike out," Napoli said. "No one accepts striking out here. We try to put the ball in play and make something happen. It just happens sometimes."
Seven Red Sox had struck out at least five times in the first four games, led by Napoli and Shane Victorino, who had each struck out seven times. The record for most strikeouts by a single player in a postseason series is 13, by Philadelphia's Ryan Howard in the 2009 World Series.
Perhaps no one will hit that mark, but the record of 70 by a team in a single series seems quite reachable, especially if the Red Sox and the Tigers play seven games.
Meanwhile, Leyland had seen his team's bats go cold heading into Wednesday's Game 4.
The Tigers had scored six runs in three games and had won only once. Leyland did not want to make a drastic change, but he decided that something needed to be done.
So Leyland dropped Austin Jackson, the leadoff hitter who had gone 3-for-33 in the postseason, to eighth in the order, and everyone else moved up. Torii Hunter went to leadoff, followed by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
It turned out to be a stroke of genius. The Tigers scored five runs in the second Wednesday and went on to a 7-3 win.
In the second, Victor Martinez singled, and Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila drew walks to load the bases. Omar Infante flied out, and then Jackson came to bat. He had struck out 18 times in the postseason, but Jake Peavy walked him on four pitches to force in a run.
The next batter, Jose Iglesias, hit a grounder to second. It might have led to a double play, but Dustin Pedroia mishandled the ball before tossing it to second for an out. Iglesias beat the throw to first, and Peralta scored.
That brought up Hunter, who ripped a double down the left-field line, scoring Avila and Iglesias. Cabrera then singled softly to center, scoring Hunter.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (TV: TBS)
Game 1: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (13)
Game 2: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0
Game 3: Dodgers 3, Cardinals 0
Game 4: Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2
Game 5: Dodgers 6, Cardinals 4
Tonight: at St. Louis, 8:37
Saturday: at St. Louis, 8:37*
Tigers 2, Red Sox 2 (TV: Ch. 13)
Game 1: Tigers 1, Red Sox 0
Game 2: Red Sox 6, Tigers 5
Game 3: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0
Game 4: Tigers 7, Red Sox 3
Thursday: at Detroit, late
Saturday: at Boston, 4:37
Sunday: at Boston, 8:07*