Home > Game Recaps, MLB > ALCS Game Five recap: Detroit Sox City

ALCS Game Five recap: Detroit Sox City

Highest WPA: Koji Uehara, .292 (1 2/3 IP, 2 K)
Lowest WPA: Shane Victorino, -.155 (0-5, 2 K, 4 LOB, one million screams of frustration induced)

True story: earlier this week, I found my first group of gray hairs. Yet another 1-run ALCS game cannot have helped my hair, but if it means the Sox winning, I’ll gladly have my exterior catch up to my grumpy, elderly soul. To say tonight was a must-win game would be exaggerating. But had the Red Sox not managed a victory, they were looking at elimination games against Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. And while I’m thrilled that the series is heading back to Fenway… well, splitting those two feels infinitely more doable than sweeping.

Of course, picking up a win tonight isn’t the only way to help the cause. The Red Sox could actually make lineup moves that increase the chances of winning each game! It’s a crazy idea, but someone should tell John Farrell that he doesn’t have to offset all good moves (putting Xander Bogaerts in for Will Middlebrooks) with bad ones that will get the media salivating but hurt the team (starting Jonny Gomes over Daniel Nava). Hell, saying Farrell was neutral is giving too much credit; Shane Victorino continuing to start makes some sense given his defense, but for the love of everything sacred, stop batting him second. And forbid him from trying to bat left-handed, while I’m making demands that won’t happen.

To Farrell’s credit, he had a mercifully fast hook when Jon Lester started to look wild, and the three trusted relievers rewarded his faith. Well, at least as a collective. Individually, Junichi Tazawa was good enough to keep the lead thanks to inducing two double plays, but also allowed three hits; considering he doesn’t have a career of ground ball tendencies, you have to consider him lucky to have escaped with minimal damage.

Yet again, that really was the story: the Tigers could easily have won this game, but the Sox managed to get just enough to escape with a win. Despite pinch-runner Will Middlebrooks showing up in the ninth, you have to figure Xander Bogaerts has earned another game with his work tonight (1-3 with a double and a hard-earned walk), perhaps at the expense of Stephen Drew thanks to Fenway’s dimensions favoring Middlebrooks. For that matter, David Ross’s sweet righty swing ought to get another shot at some Monster heroics. And speaking of guys who could benefit from Fenway… a lot has been made of Mike Napoli as a streaky hitter. If that’s a valid label, he’s picked a fine time to heat up, and ought to be hitting some more tape measure shots this weekend.

Lest this sound like me effusively praising every right-handed hitter we have: Gomes rewarded Farrell’s faith with an 0-4 night, unless we’re supposed to credit him for hitting a ground ball that Miguel Cabrera misplayed.

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