In a battle of heavyweights, the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers will be squaring off in the ALCS beginning tonight at Fenway Park. Both clubs feature top-of-the-line pitching staffs and can score runs in bunches through power, speed or situational hitting. After Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander were used to propel Detroit past Oakland late in the ALDS, manager Jim Leyland will turn to Anibal Sanchez in Game 1. Sanchez was roughed up in his ALDS Game 3 start, surrendering 5 earned runs in 4.1 innings. He will have to be nearly perfect in Game 1 if he wants to keep down a Boston lineup that just has so many ways to beat you. After the speedster Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the lineup, the Red Sox feature some of the greatest hitters baseball has to offer, namely Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.
Even if the Red Sox offense is indeed held down, their pitching staff is one of the best in the league. Jon Lester will start Game 1 for Boston and Clay Buchholz, who posted a 1.74 ERA this season, will get the ball for Game 2. If they can pitch six or seven solid innings, the combination of Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and closer Koji Uehara have been able to slam the door on opposing offenses consistently.
For the Tigers to win this series, they will have to find a way to steal a game in the hostile confines of Fenway Park. And for that to happen, they need the middle of their order, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, to come alive after lying largely dormant in the ALDS. Conventional wisdom would tell you that you can’t hold them down forever, and Tigers fans would certainly hope that is the case. The combination of Scherzer, Verlander and Sanchez will have to be at the top of their game to keep tabs on the explosive Boston offense.
In the end, these two teams are pretty evenly matched. Both have postseason experience as well as world-class rosters. This is the type of series that could come down to home field advantage. That is why I’ll take the Red Sox in 7.