Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers: Keys to Each Team Winning ALCS Game 3
After the Boston Red Sox's dramatic comeback against the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of the ALCS, there is an opportunity for one team to leave Game 3 with a lead in the series.
Each team has its keys to victory in Game 3 of the ALCS—and the game, as well as the rest of the series, has the promise to be very entertaining.
Will David Ortiz or Miguel Cabrera shine brightest? Is Justin Verlander primed to continue his postseason dominance, or is there reason to believe John Lackey will outpitch him?
There are a number of stars on each side who will have the spotlight on them in a game that could set the tone for the remainder of the ALCS.
Boston Red Sox: Shut Down Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera followed his Triple Crown campaign last season by finishing this season in either first or second in the three categories that make up that title. He is easily the most dangerous hitter in the Detroit Tigers lineup.
John Lackey and the Boston Red Sox bullpen are going to need to find a way to shut Cabrera down in Game 3, as well as for the remainder of the series.
As for the matchup in the third game of the series, the Tigers star is 4-for-12 with a home run and two RBI against Lackey in his career, with strikeouts in three of those at-bats. When these two last met on June 20, the Red Sox pitcher came out on top, striking Cabrera out twice.
Though the matchup seems somewhat even, Cabrera is the type of player who can change the game with one swing of the bat, so it would not be surprising to see him draw an intentional walk in key late-game situations. This could be pivotal in preventing a potential Red Sox win from turning into a loss.
Detroit Tigers: Get 7 Strong Innings from Justin Verlander
Although he was not the best pitcher on the Detroit Tigers' staff this season, Justin Verlander is still a dominant force on the mound.
He has stepped things up in the postseason and has looked like the type of pitcher that he was in 2011, when he won both the AL Cy Young Award and MVP. In two ALDS starts, Verlander allowed just six hits in 15 innings while striking out 21. If he is able to put in a performance similar to the ones he had in his first two outings, Detroit should not have much of a problem coming out of Game 3 with a win.
However, even that isn't a guarantee, as the Tigers still managed a 1-0 loss to the Oakland A's in Game 2 of the ALDS, despite Verlander's 11 strikeouts. What's more, the Detroit ace is just 3-4 in 11 career starts against the Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox: Get Big Papi Going
David Ortiz was a key part of the Boston Red Sox's triumph in the ALDS, hitting .385 with two home runs and three RBI in the series. However, Big Papi started off the ALCS by going 0-for-6.
Ortiz may have turned things around with his eighth-inning grand slam that tied things up in Game 2. The Red Sox have to be hoping that hit was enough to break Ortiz out of his mini-slump and that he will be a major offensive presence for the remainder of the series.
As for Game 3's matchup, Ortiz has more experience against Justin Verlander than anyone on Boston's roster. Among the five Red Sox with at least 15 at-bats against the Detroit right-hander (Ortiz has 27), he leads in batting average (.370), home runs (two) and RBI (four). Indeed, the Red Sox may need a couple big hits from Big Papi if they're to score some runs in this game.
Detroit Tigers: Have the Bullpen Straighten Things Out
Entering the eighth inning of Game 2, it appeared as if the Detroit Tigers had a win all but locked up. They had a four-run lead and needed just six outs from their bullpen, this after Max Scherzer had pitched seven innings and struck out 13 batters.
However, the bullpen promptly imploded, giving up four runs in the inning to allow the Red Sox to tie the game. Another run in the ninth—on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's only hit of the series so far—gave Boston the win.
Rick Porcello has been called upon twice in the ninth inning this postseason, and each time he has struggled, most recently being charged with the loss after Game 2. He and the rest of the Tigers bullpen need to be much better moving forward, starting with Game 3.