Friday, December 13, 2013
By Kevin Thomas firstname.lastname@example.org
DETROIT — Jon Lester vs. Anibal Sanchez, the sequel.
Lester and Sanchez, the former Portland Sea Dogs teammates, meet for the second time in this series, tonight in Game 5 at Comerica Park.
The first one was a doozy, with Sanchez and the Tigers prevailing 1-0.
“Obviously losing Game 1 is not what we wanted to do. But you sit back and you look at what Anibal was able to do in that game,” Lester said. “It’s pretty impressive.”
Sanchez no-hit the Red Sox through six innings.
Lester allowed the one run, on six hits, one walk and two hit-batters. His one costly mistake was a hanging curveball that Jhonny Peralta lined to center field for a two-out RBI single.
The game plan won’t change much for Lester.
“As long as you keep them in the ballpark and try to stay away from some big innings, give our team a chance to score some runs,” Lester said. “We’ll see what happens after that.”
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Sanchez wants to be better than his last start, despite throwing six shutout innings.
The problem for Sanchez was that he was wild and lasted only six innings (a dangerous outing, considering the inconsistent Tigers bullpen).
Sanchez may have held Boston hitless, but he walked six.
“I need to work more on throwing strikes,” Sanchez said. “Last time I threw too many away.”
But Sanchez’s wildness was also effective. With the late break on his slider, Boston’s batters were hesitant. Check-swing strikes were the norm.
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Tigers manager Jim Leyland livened up the pre-game press conference with talk of his lineup tweaking.
“Huge lineup change,” Leyland said in mock exaggeration. “Really I don’t know if it’s huge or not.”
Leyland took the struggling Austin Jackson out of the lead-off spot and dropped him to eighth. Then “basically I just moved everybody up,” Leyland said.
When a reporter asked if the move might signal panic to his players, Leyland had his fun.
“I can’t cover everything,” he told the reports. “You guys wanted me to change something, and now you want me to find the flaw in something we changed.
“I did what I thought was the right thing to do. And I really wanted to give you guys something to write about and talk about. This should be a good time for you.
“You can say I’m nut. You can say I’m dumb. You can say whatever you want. So here it is. Have a good time with it.”
The lineup change put Torii Hunter in the lead-off spot, the first time he’s batted there since 1999, with the Minnesota Twins.
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The length of these playoff games has been the typical marathon-like pace, well in excess of three hours.
“We’re basically playing a Red Sox-Yankees in-season game. They seem to go a long time,” Leyland said. “And you’ve got the TV (commercials), so its longer between innings.
“They’re like a movie. If it’s a good movie, you don’t mind staying a little longer. If it’s a bad movie, you don’t mind leaving early.”