The dust has finally settled after the Boston Red Sox mounted a glorious comeback against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway in Game 2. The ALCS is officially knotted up at one game apiece as both teams travel to Detroit for three more meetings as they decide who will represent the American League in the 2013 MLB World Series.
Here's everything you need to know to catch the rest of the ALCS as baseball continues to roll through the fall:
What the Tigers Must Do to Move On
The Detroit Tigers have been mostly stellar through the playoffs, especially through the first two games of the ALCS. If the Tigers want to move on they have to keep things going the way they are—for the most part.
They have to keep relying on their starting pitchers to dominate—which has gone pretty well so far—holding teams scoreless for over 20 innings during the playoffs. Another thing the Tigers must do is keep their bats going, something they've done rather well, racking up five runs in a hurry in Game 2 of the ALCS by hitting dingers all over the ballpark.
What aren't they doing, though?
Pretty simple; relief pitching.
Take Game 2 of the ALCS as an example. Max Scherzer looked lights-out once again, giving up just one run in seven innings only to be completely let down by the Tigers relief, which came in to give up five runs, including the grand slam given up by Joaquin Benoit in the eighth that really turned the tide in favor of the Red Sox.
The Tigers have had trouble with relief the last few seasons—most notably with late relief and closers. They haven't been able to consistently get things going in terms of supporting their starters, but if they do, you'll see games like Game 1 of the ALCS, when Anibal Sanchez and Tigers' pitching came extremely close to throwing the first combined no-hitter in postseason history.
If the Tigers can keep things rolling with their starters, produce at the plate and find an answer in the bullpen they'll be nearly impossible to defeat on their way to the World Series.
What the Red Sox Must Do to Move On
If the Red Sox want to continue on to the 2013 MLB World Series as the AL representatives they really just need to do what they did in Game 2—with a few minor changes. Obviously, they need to avoid giving up big innings to the Tigers batters, but if they can keep the big bats in check and keep runners off the basepaths, they'll find success in the ALCS.
Their pitching has been solid, giving up just six runs in the ALCS so far—just one in Game 1—and if their starters and relievers can keep up a "bend, don't break" style of just hoping to contain the Detroit bats, they'll be on their way to the World Series once again.
As for batting, the Red Sox need to do follow Game 2's blueprint. While it took a while to get the bats rolling, if they can keep the score relatively close until the Tigers are forced to bring in their struggling relievers, they'll have the opportunity to put up big innings, much like what we saw Sunday night.
The Red Sox need to manage the Tigers' stacked lineup, trying to break up the big bats and stopping any big innings. Red Sox batters just have to keep getting after Tigers pitching as best as they can until they can get a shot at the shaky Tigers relief squad. Then, they need to make good on their opportunities against Tigers relievers.