Momentum officially shifts away from Tigers in ALCS

By Rob Parker, ClickOnDetroit.com Sports Columnist, @RobParkerLocal4
Published On: Oct 15 2013 10:03:21 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 15 2013 10:05:31 PM EDT
DETROIT -

It was all about the after effect.

Many watched Game 3 of the American League Championship Series and wondered if the miracle comeback by the Boston Red Sox on Sunday would matter. Would the Red Sox use it as a spring board to take control of a series they looked all but dead in?

Or would it just be a bump in the road for the Detroit Tigers whose pitching dominated Boston in a fashion almost never seen before in MLB playoff history? Tigers starters had no-hitters going into the 6th inning of Games 1 and 2 at Fenway Park.

Answer is: It did matter.

Proof positive was the Red Sox's 1-0 momentum-grabbing victory on Wednesday afternoon before a sellout crowd of 42,327 at Comerica Park.

Red Sox alive, thriving after 1st falling behind in series

It gives Boston a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Just 36 hours from almost being pronounced dead, as in Dead Sox, the Red Sox aren't just alive, but thriving. They have turned the series in their favor. It's an improbable turn of events.

This is why you don't give your opponent new life when you have them down and nearly out. But that's what the Tigers did when they didn't break the Red Sox neck by taking the first two in Boston.

"One run determined this game, so I don't know if it's momentum," Tigers' right fielder Torii Hunter said. "We're professionals. We just turned the page. Yeah, it hurts at the time. But when we go home, we kick back, we study and do what we have to do and forget about that game."

Many Detroiters couldn't forget the historic collapse. And with good reason.

The Tigers were up 5-1 in the 8th inning. But the Red Sox scored four runs via a grand slam homer from David Ortiz off closer Joaquin Benoit.

"You can make more of these games than maybe they are, but at the same time to come out and win the first game," said Boston reliever Craig Breslow, whose team's series-changing 6-5 victory Sunday evened the series at 1-1. "Maybe we can feed off what we started back in Fenway a couple of days ago, that's huge."

Tigers' starter and loser Justin Verlander continued his postseason mastery, no-hitting the Red Sox through the first four innings. He also struck out six BoSox in the first three innings.

"He pitched great," said Miguel Cabrera about Verlander, who gave up a run on four hits in eight innings. "He gave us a chance to win. But we didn't do what we needed to win."

And how. Enter Red Sox starter and winner John Lackey.

While Verlander was being Verlander, Lackey wasn't a slouch by any means. He was impressive, too. In all, he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He allowed just four hits. He struck out eight and issued no walks.

In the 8th, the Tigers had a golden opportunity to tie the game against the bullpen. With runners on first and third and one out, Cabrera and Prince Fielder both struck out to end the threat.

"We had every opportunity to win that game, too," said Alex Avila, who struck out to end the game. "Their guys just happened not to make a mistake that we could capitalize on."

Midway through Game 2, it appeared as if the Red Sox had no shot. They couldn't touch the ball, striking out at an alarming rate, let alone buy a hit.

It appeared as if they were headed to Motown to play out the string that saw they go from worst to first in a single season. Before the playoffs started, many experts had them as the favorites to make it to the World Series out of the AL.

In the 7th, Mike Napoli finally give the Red Sox a spark with a solo home run off Verlander. It was a 3-2 fastball Napoli deposited into the Red Sox's bullpen in leftfield, giving Boston a 1-0 lead.

It was a big blow from Napoli, who was missing in action in the ALCS. In his first six at-bats, the Red Sox first baseman struck out all six times.

"You don't want to walk anybody in a 0-0 game," Verlander said. "I felt he hadn't seen the fastball really well today. "I decided to challenge him. It was a little bit of a mistake, it was up and over the plate and he put a good swing on it."

Just like Ortiz in Game 2. The Red Sox have been alive and well ever since.

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