DETROIT - The pitchers who set the tone for this American League Championship Series oppose each other again Thursday night when Anibal Sanchez takes the mound for host Detroit against Jon Lester of Boston in Game 5.
Sanchez struck out 12 in six no-hit innings in the opener and Lester also was strong as the Tigers squeaked out a 1-0 victory.
Detroit center fielder Austin Jackson reached base four times as the Tigers evened the series with a 7-3 victory Wednesday.
Detroit's Jhonny Peralta singled in the lone run against Lester in the opener, a contest in which Sanchez walked six and was pulled after 116 pitches. Jackson's standout Game 4 performance in which he had two hits, two walks and two RBIs came after he was dropped to eighth in the lineup due to a deep postseason slump (3-for-33, 18 strikeouts). Boston slugger David Ortiz was hitless in five at-bats in Game 4 to drop to 1-for-15 in the series – his only hit being the game-tying grand slam in Game 2. The Red Sox had 12 hits to match their total over the first three games but went 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
GAME TIME: 8: 07 p.m.
WHERE: Comerica Park, Detroit
PITCHING MATCHUP: Red Sox LH Jon Lester (0-1, 1.42 ERA) vs. Tigers RH Anibal Sanchez (1-0, 0.00)
Lester allowed one run and six hits in 6 1/3 innings in Game 1 and has given up just three runs in 14 postseason innings this month. The opener marked his first loss since Aug. 29 as he finished the regular season by allowing two or fewer earned runs in seven of his last 10 starts and has added two such performances in the postseason. That stretch included a Sept. 3 start when Lester struck out nine and allowed one run in seven innings to beat the Tigers.
Sanchez joined Walter Johnson (12 innings in 1924 World Series) as the only pitchers to strike out 12 and walk six in the same playoff game. The stellar outing represented a sharp turnaround from his start against Oakland in the AL Division Series when he allowed six runs (five earned) and eight hits – including three homers – in 4 1/3 innings. Sanchez has struck out 10 or more batters six times this season.
First Pitch: The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by former Tigers All-Star and 1984 World Series Champion, Jack Morris.
National Anthem: The national anthem will be performed by the Detroit School of Arts Male Ensemble, Vision Choir. The Detroit School of Arts is a nationally renowned Arts and Academic high school that offers a strong college preparatory Academic and Arts Curriculum.
Game Ball Delivery: Staff Sergeant Christopher Nowicki of Saginaw, Michigan will deliver the game ball. Staff Sergeant Nowicki has served two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. He currently serves as the Assistant Operations and Training NCO at headquarters in Lansing and is a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear defense specialist. He has been awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Michigan National Guard's Lifesaving Medal. Staff Sergeant Nowicki has proudly served the military for 17 years.
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