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ALCS Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, October 12th (All times Eastern)

Detroit Tigers (3-2) at Boston Red Sox (3-1), 8:07 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Detroit - Anibal Sanchez (0-1, 10.38) Boston - Jon Lester (1-0, 2.35)

(SportsNetwork.com) - If you would have said a year ago that the Boston Red Sox would be back in the American League Championship Series this season, you likely would have been laughed at.

But, one year removed from losing 93 games, that is exactly the position the Red Sox find themselves in, as they kick off the best-of-seven set versus the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park on Saturday.

Boston is back in this round for the first time since 2008 after upending the Tampa Bay Rays in four games of the ALDS.

Only two teams were worse than Boston in the AL in 2012, leading to the dismissal of manager Bobby Valentine after just one season. So, out with the old and in the new, as the team hired John Farrell away from Toronto to be its new skipper.

All Farrell did was put himself atop most people's AL Manager of the Year ballots, as he guided the Red Sox to a 28-game turnaround and ended the year 97-65, leading the club to its first AL East title since their World Series championship season of 2007.

The 97 wins were also the second most for the team since 1978.

Farrell, of course, was the Red Sox pitching coach under Terry Francona, and his impact was immediately evident, especially among the starting staff which saw its ERA decrease by nearly two runs from the prior season.

Nobody benefited from having Farrell back more than Game 1 starter Jon Lester, who was a miserable 9-14 in 2012, but bounced back to go 15-8 this past season, while pitching to a 3.75 ERA.

Lester gave up two runs in 7 2/3 innings in a win over the Rays in the ALDS and has held the opposition to a .199 batting average with 46 strikeouts to 16 walks in 49 2/3 postseason innings.

Including his Game 1 win over the Rays, Lester is 8-2 with a 2.77 ERA in 14 starts since the All-Star break. He's also allowed three runs or less in eight of his nine postseason starts.

"The more serious the game is, the better he gets," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. "Sometimes when you're facing teams when you maybe don't have the record or the lineup isn't as strong, maybe you can let off a little bit. But he has the ability to turn it on whenever he wants. So if he's in trouble, he's got no problem getting out of it."

Detroit, meanwhile, is back in this round for the third straight season after a hard-fought five-game win over the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS. Justin Verlander flirted with a no-hitter in the clincher and wound up giving up two hits over eight scoreless innings in the Tigers' 3-0 win.

"I can usually tell by the look on his face and his demeanor prior to a game when he's zeroed in and locked in," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, "and he was locked in tonight."

Now the Tigers turn their attention toward the Red Sox, as they try to get back to the World Series for a second straight season.

Detroit went 93-69 to win a third straight AL Central crown thanks to another amazing campaign from Miguel Cabrera, and despite a wildly inconsistent season from Verlander.

While Verlander struggled, the rest of the staff thrived, specifically right- hander Max Scherzer, who enjoyed the best year of his career, as he won an MLB-best 21 games, while pitching to a 2.90 ERA and striking out 240 batters over a career-high 214 innings.

In Verlander, Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez the Tigers produced three 200- strikeout pitchers on the same team for just the third time in history, the first since the 1969 Astros.

Sanchez, who led the AL with a 2.57 ERA, will get the start for the Tigers in Game 1 against the Red Sox. Often overlooked because of his high-profile teammates, Sanchez was one of the best pitchers in either league over the second half of the season, going 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA after the All-Star break.

Sanchez, though, was rocked by the A's in the ALDS to the tune of six runs -- earned -- in 4 1/3 innings.

"It's a big day for me, especially because I'm going to start the series again," Sanchez said. "This team, a pretty good team. But I think every day is different. I need to keep working. I need to be focused tomorrow."

Boston and Detroit have been playing one another since 1901, but amazingly this is the first postseason matchup between the charter AL clubs.

The Tigers were 4-3 against the Red Sox in 2013, winning three of four at Comerica Park in June and dropping two of three at Fenway in September. In fact, the last time they met Boston smacked eight home runs and won, 20-4.

10/12 10:28:55 ET

  • PGA: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Tomorrow at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NASCAR: Toyota Owner's 400 from Richmond

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on FOX50

  • PGA: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Sunday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • MLB: LA Angels at NY Yankees

    Tomorrow at 1:05 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NBA: Oklahoma at Memphis

    Tomorrow at 9:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NBA: LA Clippers at Golden State

    Sunday at 3:30 am on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHR 4
DUR 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
CHR
DUR
 
Final
CLE 5
KAN 1
Final
PIT 1
CIN 2
Final
DET 7
CWS 4
Final
TAM 7
MIN 9
Final
NYM 4
STL 1
Final
CHC 2
ARI 5
Final
WAS 3
SDP 4
Final
TOR 4
BAL 11
Final
BOS 5
NYY 14
Final
HOU 1
OAK 10
Final
LOS 3
PHI 7
7:05pm Tonight
BAL
KAN
 
7:05pm Tonight
NYY
ANA
 
7:05pm Tonight
WAS
SDP
 
7:07pm Tonight
TOR
BOS
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
MIA
 
7:35pm Tonight
ATL
CIN
 
8:10pm Tonight
MIL
CHC
 
8:10pm Tonight
MIN
DET
 
8:10pm Tonight
HOU
OAK
 
8:10pm Tonight
CWS
TAM
 
8:15pm Tonight
STL
PIT
 
9:40pm Tonight
ARI
PHI
 
10:10pm Tonight
LOS
COL
 
10:10pm Tonight
SEA
TEX
 
10:15pm Tonight
SFG
CLE
 
Final
ATL 98
IND 85
Final
MEM 98
OKC 95
Final
GSW 96
LAC 98
7:00pm Tonight
BRK
TOR
8:00pm Tonight
WAS
CHI
10:30pm Tonight
POR
HOU
Final
DET 2
BOS 3
Final
MIN 2
COL 1
Final
LOS 6
SJS 3
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
NYR
8:00pm Tonight
STL
CHI
10:30pm Tonight
ANA
DAL
Final
CHR 4
DUR 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
CHR
DUR