Rolling Red Sox gear up for dangerous Tigers
Tradition-laden franchises meeting up in postseason for first time
BOSTON -- The Red Sox and Tigers, as two of the American League's eight charter franchises, have been facing each other since 1901.
Yet the upcoming AL Championship Series, which starts Saturday night at 8 ET on FOX at Fenway Park, will mark the first time the tradition-laden franchises have squared off in the postseason.
After clicking on all cylinders in a 3-1 AL Division Series victory against the Rays, which concluded Tuesday night at Tropicana Field, the Red Sox can't wait to get back out there.
And just like in the last round, manager John Farrell will set up his pitching rotation exactly as he wants to. Jon Lester will get Game 1 on Saturday and hopes to duplicate the outstanding performance he had in the opening game against Tampa Bay.
Manager Jim Leyland won't have the same luxury as Farrell. His team went the distance with the A's, winning the series behind a gem by Justin Verlander in Thursday night's Game 5.
Anibal Sanchez will start Game 1, manager Jim Leyland said after the Tigers' 3-0 win over the A's. Ace Max Scherzer (21-3) pitched for Detroit on Tuesday, so he'll likely start Game 2 of the ALCS on Sunday. The last time Scherzer was at Fenway, the Sox beat him in a 2-1 game.
Verlander would seem like the obvious choice to pitch Game 3 in Detroit on Tuesday.
"No one's going to get to the American League Championship Series and not be good," said Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes before knowing if his team would face the A's or Tigers. "If you're in the American League Championship, you're a good team. You can't get there accidentally. We've got our work cut out for us."
When they take the field for Game 1 of the ALCS, the Sox will be hard-pressed to duplicate what happened when they last faced the Tigers on Sept. 4.
In that contest, Boston tied a franchise record by clocking eight homers en route to a 20-4 victory at Fenway.
However, most of the other games between the clubs in '13 were hotly contested. In fact, the Tigers won the series, 4-3.
The Tigers took three out of four in Detroit from June 20-23. That was the weekend Koji Uehara replaced Andrew Bailey as the closer.
Boston took two out of three at Fenway, Sept. 2-4.
Jose Iglesias, a defensive star for the Red Sox earlier this season, will make his return to Fenway as the Tigers' starting shortstop. Boston dealt him to Detroit as part of a three-way trade with the White Sox that landed Jake Peavy with Boston.
The Red Sox's pitching staff, which was stellar in the ALDS, will have to deal with two superstars in this series -- Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.
Boston's lineup relies more on balance. Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino were the consummate table-setters against Tampa Bay. Dustin Pedroia was quiet by his standards in the ALDS, so don't be surprised if he gets hot.
While the Red Sox utilized familiarity during their series against the Rays, they'll have to rely more on video and advance scouting reports for this matchup.
"We've had people following both Detroit and Oakland for quite a while," said manager John Farrell on Thursday afternoon. "We've got our meeting set for tomorrow, but from an internal standpoint, all of the information that has accumulated to what [advance scouts] Steve Langone and Dave Klipstein have done in person out in the field ahead of us, particularly Steve Langone.
"He's the guy that's been with us from Day 1 of Spring Training and been out ahead of us the entire season. They might be under the radar and behind the scenes, but the information they provide and the work they've done has had a huge impact on how we prepare, not just for the series starting Saturday, but what we've done all season."
Armed with momentum, talent and scouting reports, the Red Sox are looking forward to the next step.
"These guys don't even fear the All-Star team," Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts said of his teammates. "This team is on a roll so far, we've been winning a lot of games, lot of tight games."