BOSTON -- Here's why Tigers manager Jim Leyland hates to take the hobbled Miguel Cabrera out for defense. Cabrera exited after he hit in the eighth inning Saturday night. With one out in the ninth, the Tigers put runners at second and third with one out to bring up Cabrera's spot.
It was Don Kelly, not Cabrera, at the plate. Relief ace Koji Uehara struck him out. Prince Fielder then sent a two-out blooper to short center in a bid for his first RBI of this postseason. Shortstop Stephen Drew caught it over his shoulder on the run, like a wide receiver in the end zone.
The Tigers hadn't gotten a run they really could have used to increase their lead to 2-0. So now it was the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox only down a run. If it's at all close in the bottom of the ninth at Fenway Park, it always feels like the Red Sox are going to come from behind -- even when they don't have a hit yet.
Joaquin Benoit became the fourth pitcher in what Jim Leyland hoped would be a four-by-zero no-hit relay. Home-run threat Mike Napoli led off and took strike three -- the 17th strikeout, tying the record for a nine-inning postseason game.
Next was switch-hitter Daniel Nava. He fouled three pitches with two strikes, then lined Boston's first hit to center. Former Tiger Quintin Berry -- never caught in 27 stolen-base tries in the majors -- ran for him.
After Drew got ahead 2-0, pitching coach Jeff Jones visited the mound, and Drew flied out on the next pitch. Two out.
On the 1-0 pitch to rookie Xander Bogaerts, Berry stole second with a head-first slide. The count went full. Bogaerts popped to Jose Iglesias at short. The Tigers had their second-ever 1-0 win in the postseason. The first clinched the '84 pennant against Kansas City; this one gave them the minimum one win they need at Fenway Park in this series.
Earlier in the postseason, Leyland said, "We're a pitching team." For now, he's not kidding.
You can't break an older postseason record than the one Anibal Sanchez did Saturday night. And we're not even talking about what Orval Overall did.
The first World Series game ever played occurred in Boston on Oct. 1, 1903. Pittsburgh right-hander Deacon Phillippe went the distance for a 7-3 win over the host Boston Americans (they became the Red Sox in 1907). Phillippe struck out 10.
From that day until Saturday -- a span of 110 years and 111 days -- no pitcher ever struck out more hitters in Boston against Boston's American League team in a postseason game.
Sanchez got his 11th strikeout in the sixth to pass Phillippe. He ended the sixth with his 12th, breaking Bartolo Colon's record for most strikeouts against the Red Sox in a postseason game home or away.
Sanchez struck out four in the first inning. Shane Victorino reached on a third strike that was a wild pitch. Until that, the Cubs' Orval Overall had been the only pitcher ever to strike out four in a postseason inning. He did it against the Tigers in the first inning of his World Series-clinching shutout at Detroit's Bennett Park on Oct. 14, 1908.
Sanchez became the first Tiger ever to strike out four hitters in an inning. That's rather stunning, considering the Tigers have been around since two years before the World Series began. In his first full season with the Tigers, Sanchez has set the franchise mark for strikeouts in a game (17) and in an inning.
But Sanchez wasn't just turning into Orval Overall. He was turning into a version of Bill Bevens.
On Oct. 3, 1947, the Yankees' Bevens had a no-hitter with two out in the bottom of the ninth of Game 4 of the World Series. But he had walked 10 hitters. And when Cookie Lavagetto drilled a two-out double off the rightfield fence at Ebbets Field, the ninth and 10th men that Bevens had walked scored the runs that at the last minute turned his no-hit bid into a 2-1 loss.
Sanchez walked six. It was the third-most ever in a postseason game for a starting pitcher who didn't allow a hit.
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