DETROIT -- Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez wanted to pitch better Thursday night than in Game 1, even though he didn't allow a hit in Game 1.
Sanchez walked six in Game 1 and threw 116 pitches in six innings. He wanted to get better mileage on Thursday night. He wanted to go deeper into the game.
"I threw more strikes today," Sanchez said. "I didn't lose my aggressiveness."
He didn't walk anyone Thursday night. He wasn't wild at all. But he wasn't as successful as when he was "effectively wild" in Game 1, to use an ancient phrase.
He lasted six innings, as in Game 1. His pitch count was lower (108) than when he became the first pitcher in post-season history to be removed when throwing a no-hitter in the sixth inning or later.
After no hits in Game 1, Sanchez saw this game through the lens of one. More than once after the game, he talked about how he had one bad inning (the three-run second) that featured one homer (Mike Napoli's leadoff drive) and one error (by Miguel Cabrera, which led to the second run.
And one wild pitch.
It came in the third and brought home the run that made it 4-0 and emerged as the difference in Boston's 4-3 win.
The wild pitch came with two outs and two strikes on Stephen Drew, who had one hit in the series.
It was a slider that bounced in front of the plate.
"He held it on too long," Avila said. "It was quite a ways in front of the plate."
The Tigers pitching staff has great trust that Avila and fellow catcher Brayan Pena can block pitches in the dirt and turn in the most unrecognized feat in baseball -- saving the run-scoring wild pitch.
This time Avila couldn't because the ball bounced in front of the plate. It bounced. All he could hope that was it would bounce directly into him. It didn't.
"I did everything I could to block it," Avila said.
Avila might be the Vezina Trophy winner of catchers when it comes to blocking balls in the dirt. This was one that the catcher/goalie couldn't contain.
It would have been easy to call for a high fastball, like the one Sanchez used to strike out Drew his next time up. But Avila doesn't like to take away pitches from his pitcher just because there is a runner on third and a wild pitch might result.
Avila was asked how much he has to weigh the risk of a wild pitch when he calls for a slider with a runner on third.
"Always, especially with a guy with Sanchez's stuff," Avila said. "He throws that slider at 88 or 89 MPH. It's almost like a fastball. I've blocked a pitch a million times.
"I have the confidence in him to make a quality pitch and in myself to make the play."
Napoli hit his second homer in three days at Comerica Park.
"He's swinging really good the last three days," Sanchez said. "I just made a couple of mistakes.
"They've got a pretty good team. They did enough for a win."
-- NO RELIEF FOR FISTER: Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Doug Fister wouldn't pitch in relief on two days' rest in Game 6. He's saving him for possible relief work in Game 7.
"If you see a guy like that (a starter in relief), it's normally not good," Leyland said.
To see Fister in Game 7 would probably mean a) starter Justin Verlander has gotten in a lot of trouble early, b) the game has gone extra innings or c) there has been a long rain delay that forced Verlander out of the game.
So Leyland doesn't expect Fister to do anything like what Grover Cleveland Alexander did for the Cardinals in 1926. After Alexander, 39, threw a complete game to beat the Yankees in Game 6, he relieved the next day in Game 7 and held the Yankees hitless and scoreless over the final 21/3 innings to save the Cardinals' 3-2 win for their first world title. Those were the days before the modern, deeply stocked bullpens.
In Game 4, Fister turned in his sixth straight quality start in the postseason for the Tigers the past three years.
"He was absolutely terrific," Leyland said. "He had a great curveball. He pitched his heart out."
IGLESIAS LEFT AND RIGHT: In Game 4, Leyland had right-handed-hitting shortstop Jose Iglesias make his first start of the series with a right-hander starting for Boston. Iglesias started Game 5 against left-hander Jon Lester, just as he did in Game 1. On Thursday, Leyland said he was leaning toward having Iglesias start Game 6 vs. right-hander Clay Buchholz.
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