Date/Time: October 17th, 8:00 PM ET
MLB Betting Odds from BetOnline.AG
Probable Starters: Lester (Boston) vs. Sanchez (Detroit)
Manager Jim Leyland probably saved his team's season on Wednesday night when he flipped his batting order around and helped his Detroit Tigers get the victory against the Boston Red Sox. Now, the ALCS is all knotted up at two games apiece, and this is essentially a best-of-three series going into Thursday night's Game 5 in Motown.
One would like to figure that Boston would love to win this game, knowing that it still has a prospective matchup with RHP Justin Verlander coming in Game 7. The Red Sox never had a shot last night thanks to how badly RHP Jake Peavy pitched on this night. Was it just one starting pitcher that committed a blunder, or is the team set to fall off the tracks again? We have to be concerned about this offense, which still only hasn't gotten its batting average up to .200 in this series as a team yet. LHP Jon Lester is going to be on the mound on Thursday, and this is the best bullet that Manager John Farrell has in his gun. Thus far in the playoffs, the southpaw has allowed just three runs in 14 innings of work with nine hits and four walks surrendered and 11 strikeouts. The numbers have been awesome for Lester all season long, and he was unlucky not to get the Game 1 victory. Alas, the same way that Verlander was beaten in Game 3, by giving up just a single run in the game, was the same way that Lester was beaten in Game 1, and he is going to hope to change his fortunes on Thursday night.
RHP Anibal Sanchez started off the no-hitter in Game 1 in fine form, but he still definitely concerns us going into this game. This is a man that has lost total command of the strike zone, and six walks in six innings of work isn't going to cut it. Sanchez was keeping the ball up in the zone far too much in his first start of the playoffs against the Oakland Athletics, and now, he's trying to be too precise with the ball and is walking batters instead. The good news is that he has at least six strikeouts in six straight starts, including fanning 10 in half of those outings, but if he's just a bit wild and is putting batters on, it is only a matter of time until the Red Sox get to him. OF Austin Jackson was booted down from the 1st spot in the lineup to #8, and the rest of the lineup just scooted up a position. It worked last night, but is it a good enough lineup for the Tigers to win two more games in this series to get to the World Series? That's the big question.
We tend to overdramatize anything that we see in one game in the playoffs when you're talking about a seven-game series, whether it be in baseball, basketball, or hockey. In this case, the Tigers are going to be the favored side, and the public is going to be all over them because they finally had a great offensive game. We're not buying it, though. Peavy was the problem last night. Lester won't have that same problem again. We'll believe that the Tigers can hit left-handed pitching when we really see it.
Boston Red Sox @ Detroit Tigers Pick: Boston Red Sox