ALCS 2013 Preview: Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox
The Tigers have the best one-two punch at the top of their rotation with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, and they also have the best hitter on the planet in Miguel Cabrera. The Red Sox have postseason heroes David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, and also have Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz healthy and leading their rotation.
The journey for these two teams to arrive here were different to say the least. The Red Sox dominated the Tampa Bay Rays in their ALDS matchup and missed a sweep because of one walk-off home run in Game 3.
On offense, it was all about the top of the lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino combined for 15 hits, nine runs scored and five stolen bases in the four games against the Rays, and Big Papi Ortiz hit the only two home runs in the series for the team. The starting pitching was a bit inconsistent against the Rays, but the bullpen surrendered only two runs in 11 innings.
For the Tigers, they had to come back from a 2-1 series deficit against the Oakland Athletics and needed to rely on their two workhorse pitchers to deliver. After throwing a gem in a Game 1 victory, Scherzer was used on short rest out of the bullpen in Game 4, tossing two gutsy innings and getting the win. And is anyone hotter than Verlander right now? Two starts against the A’s this postseason: 2-0, 15 innings, zero runs, six hits and 21 strikeouts.
Miguel Cabrera is obviously playing injured and still found a way to deliver a big home run in Game 5. Victor Martinez has been swinging the hot bat with nine hits in the ALDS. We’ll see what kind of damage he can do against his former team. The Tigers won the season series against the Red Sox four games to three, but the last time these two teams squared off, the Red Sox offense put up a 20-spot.
These two teams are pretty similar: power pitchers at the top of their rotations, deep and versatile bullpens, and power in their lineup. I give the Red Sox the edge because of the speed at the top of the order. If Ellsbury and Victorino continue to get on base at this clip, they have the ability to do more damage than Austin Jackson and Tori Hunter on the bases.
I would expect nothing less in this series than drama, comebacks and tight finishes because of how even these teams really are in talent, and it all starts off tomorrow night.