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Sunday’s Red Sox-Tigers matchups: John Lackey vs. Anibal Sanchez 06.08.14 at 8:21 am ET
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The stumbling Red Sox will close out their three-game series against the Tigers on Sunday night, sending John Lackey to the mound against Anibal Sanchez.

Lackey (6-4, 3.28 ERA) turned in another solid start in his last appearance on the mound on June 2, as the Texas native held the Indians to just eight hits and three runs in a complete-game effort.

Unfortunately for Lackey, he was bested on the hill by Indians pitcher Justin Masterson, who held the Red Sox scoreless on seven innings of work while hurling an immaculate inning in the fourth. At one point, the former Sox prospect threw 25 strikes in a row, helping his team to a 3-2 victory.

“Lackey threw a great game,’€ said Indians manager Terry Francona after the game. “He threw [96] pitches in eight innings and we scratched a couple early and got another one and kind of hung on. He’s one of the better pitchers right now. He’s the Lackey of old.”

Lackey struggled in his last appearance against Detroit on May 17, surrendering nine hits and six runs in 5 1/3 innings of work in what eventually resulted in a 6-1 Detroit victory. In 13 career starts against the Tigers, Lackey is 6-4 with a 4.14 ERA.

Sanchez (2-2, 2.15 ERA) turned in another great start against the Blue Jays on June 3, allowing just two hits and no earned runs over seven innings of work. Despite his dominant game on the mound, Sanchez left the game with a no-decision, as the contest was locked in a 0-0 tie until the ninth inning. In the final frame, Tigers closer Joe Nathan allowed a total of four earned runs over a third of a inning, leading to a 5-3 victory for the Blue Jays.

Sanchez has been playing some of his best baseball as of late, but he has little to show for it. Over his last two starts, Sanchez has only allowed one run and five hits in 15 1/3 innings, but he did not earn the win in either game.

“It’s not personal,” Sanchez said. “I think it’s more for the team. If I pitch good or if I pitch bad, the result is for the team. We lost. That’s the big thing. I go out and I try to do my best, I try to face the hitters, go deep, help the team gain some wins. But the result was not like that today.”

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Sunday’s Red Sox-Tigers matchups: Jake Peavy vs. Anibal Sanchez 05.18.14 at 8:33 am ET
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The Red Sox will wrap up their three-game series with the Tigers on Sunday night, as Jake Peavy will take the mound for Boston and face off against Anibal Sanchez.

Peavy (1-1, 3.94 ERA) is coming off arguably his worst start of the season, as the Mobile, Ala., native gave up nine hits and six runs over 4 1/3 innings on May 13 against the Twins. It was the first time that Peavy had failed to make it past five innings in 18 career starts with Boston.

“I wasn’t quite making pitches,” Peavy said after the game. “That’s what it comes down to, executing your pitches. It’s a scrappy lineup that’s doing some good things against some good pitchers. I knew that coming in. Just didn’t make a whole lot of quality pitches tonight. I’ve got to get better, and I will get better.”

Peavy was originally not scheduled to pitch in the weekend series against the Tigers, but manager John Farrell flip-flopped Peavy and Felix Doubront in the starting rotation earlier in the week, giving Peavy the nod in the series opener against the Twins.

Peavy’€™s solid numbers against some of Detroit’€™s most dangerous batters (Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler all are hitting under .300 against Peavy) as well as well as the fact that the Tigers posses the second-highest batting average against lefties (.293) in the majors were the top factors that led to Farrell’€™s decision to switch up his pitching staff.

“€œGiven the way [Detroit's] lineup stacks up, what they’ve been doing against left-handed starting, and more than anything, just the flexibility of the schedule, that gives us a chance to match up a little bit better,” Farrell said.

Peavy had a rough going in his last start against the Tigers in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series last fall. The 2007 Cy Young Award winner only lasted three innings while surrendering five hits and seven earned runs against the potent Detroit lineup.

In 12 regular-season starts against Detroit, Peavy is 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA.

Once a prospect in the Red Sox system, Sanchez (0-2, 3.13 ERA) was one of the chips dealt in the 2006 trade with the Marlins that saw Boston send away Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez and two other minor league pitchers to Florida in exchange for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota.

Now entering his ninth season in the majors, Sanchez has carved out a solid career for himself with a career stat line of 62-61 with a 3.54 ERA.

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Ken Rosenthal on D&C: Red Sox, Cardinals ‘are who everybody else wants to be’ 10.23.13 at 10:35 am ET
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Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to preview the Red Sox-Cardinals World Series.

The team’€™s face off on Wednesday night at Fenway Park in Game 1, with Jon Lester taking the hill for Boston and Adam Wainwright for St. Louis.

‘€œWhat I love about this series is simply that these are the two ‘€˜it’€™ organizations right now,’€ Rosenthal said. ‘€œThese two teams are who everybody else wants to be. And the fact that for the first time since 1999 the two teams with the best records in each league have made it to the World Series to me is very special.’€

Boston comes off a six-game ALCS triumph over the Tigers. The dagger came in Game 6 when Shane Victorino launched a grand slam with the Red Sox trailing 2-1, to put Boston up for good. It was the second bullpen implosion for Detroit of the series.

‘€œThe bullpen, it’€™s a whole different animal for the Cardinals, because the Tigers bullpen — the whole thought process of the Red Sox that entire series, it didn’€™t work early, at least the first game, was, ‘€˜Let’€™s get to their bullpen, and good things might happen,’€™ ‘€ Rosenthal said. ‘€œEventually that is exactly what happened in that series. It’€™s not going to happen in the same way this series.’€

The Detroit bullpen allowed a pair of devastating, late-inning grand slams, the team’s best two hitters did not show up, but the Tigers lasted six games on the strength of their starting pitching. St Louis cannot match Detroit’€™s top line of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez, but the Cardinals have put together a very solid rotation.

‘€œThe Cardinals starters, while not Sanchez, Scherzer and Verlander, are certainly very good,’€ Rosenthal said. ‘€œWainwright is outstanding, [Michael] Wacha is really good, and whoever else they throw will be someone who has a high-octane arm.’€

St Louis features an offense that’€™s capable of producing from top to bottom. Outfielders Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday provide the pop, while second baseman Matt Carpenter, and catcher Yadier Molina were arguably the best players at their positions in MLB this season.

‘€œI also believe that the Cardinals have, right now, a better offense than the Tigers did, given [Miguel] Cabrera‘€™s injury and [Prince] Fielder‘€™s struggles,’€ Rosenthal said. ‘€œThe Cardinals are a much more balanced type of offense, I don’€™t expect them to go into these kind of funks and slumps we saw.’€

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Thursday’s Red Sox-Tigers ALCS matchups: Jon Lester vs. Anibal Sanchez 10.17.13 at 10:01 am ET
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The Red Sox look to regain control of the American League Championship Series on Thursday night, as Jon Lester and the Sox will face off against Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers in Game 5 of the ALCS at Comerica Park.

After three straight close games that were decided by only one run, Game 4 finally featured some offense from both teams, as the Tigers scored seven runs off of Boston starter Jake Peavy. The Boston bats also finally made an appearance, as the Sox recorded 12 hits in the contest.

Despite collecting as many hits in Game 4 as they did in Games 1-3 combined, the Sox only managed to score three runs, thanks in large part to the team going 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position. By the time the game had ended and the Tigers secured the 7-3 victory, Boston had stranded 10 men on base.

The Sox offense will hope to score more runs on Thursday in support of Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA), who did not receive any help from the offense during his first ALCS start on Saturday in Game 1 of the series.

Lester was great in the series opener, as he only allowed one run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. Lester has proven himself in October, as he holds a career record of 3-4 with a 2.41 ERA in 10 postseason games.

Despite Lester’s strong performance, Sanchez, the starter for Detroit in Game 1, was just a little bit better. Sanchez held the Red Sox hitless through six innings, as the Tigers took Game 1 by a score of 1-0. The Boston offense was nowhere to be found in the contest, as the Sox collected their first hit of the game with one out in the ninth inning.

‘€œWhether it was Sanchez or every guy they brought out of the bullpen, it was power stuff,’€  Boston manager John Farrell said after the game. “They executed well. But there might have been a couple of pitches that were pitchers’ pitches that seemed to go against us.’€

Sanchez (14-8, 2.57 ERA) showed in his Game 1 start just exactly why he led the American League in ERA this season, as he kept the potent Sox lineup off balance for six strong innings.

It was a bit of an odd start for Sanchez, as the former Sox prospect did not allow a hit and struck out 12 but also walked six.

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Buster Olney on M&M: Doug Fister ‘incredibly underrated’ 10.16.13 at 1:45 pm ET
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ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox‘€™ win on Tuesday and the pitcher they’ll face in Game 4 of the ALCS.

The Red Sox face Doug Fister on Wednesday at Comerica Park, with a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Boston has struggled this series against Tigers starters, recording 35 strikeouts and only two earned runs on six hits over 21 innings.

Fister brings less firepower than the previous three starters (Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander), as he sports just a 6.9 K/9 ratio, despite his solid 3.67 ERA.

‘€œI think Fister is incredibly underrated,’€ Olney said. ‘€œBut I’€™m sure the Red Sox are happy that it’€™s a different type of guy, because at the very least, unlike Sanchez, unlike Scherzer, unlike Verlander, he doesn’€™t go into it where you’€™re basically assuming you’€™re going to have 20 missed swings and you’€™re going to have a bunch of strikeouts. At least they have a better chance of putting the ball in play.’€

The offensive issues don’€™t just exist in Boston. The Cardinals entered Tuesday’€™s NLDS Game 4 against the Dodgers batting just .134 in the first three games. Olney credits the domination in pitching partly to the cast of top-end starters employed by the four remaining teams, but also some of the scouting advances pitchers have gained in terms of determining the weaknesses of their opponents.

‘€œI think a classic case of that was last night, when Miguel Cabrera comes up to the plate and John Farrell chooses to have [JunichiTazawa pitch to him because he has the information that Cabrera is struggling on pitches on the outer half  of the plate, and they just went back to it over and over and over and over again,’€ Olney said.

Boston offset its lack of offense with a dominant pitching performance by John Lackey to earn the 1-0 Game 3 win. Lackey threw 6 2/3 shutout innings, allowing only four hits and zero walks while striking out eight. After Detroit rapped out a couple of base hits in the first inning, Lackey and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia changed their approach.

‘€œThey went right to the concept of pitching backwards, rather than starting off with the fastball,’€ Olney said. ‘€œYou have to give credit to he and Saltalamacchia for changing so quickly after they saw what the Tigers were doing.”

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Read More: Anibal Sanchez, buster olney, Doug Fister, John Farrell
Wednesday’s Red Sox-Tigers ALCS matchups: Jake Peavy vs. Doug Fister at 12:19 pm ET
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Jake Peavy has been a major leaguer for 12 years, during which time he’€™s won 132 games, pitched nearly 2,000 innings, struck out nearly 2,000 batters and posted a career 3.51 ERA.

But for as much success as Peavy has experienced in his career, he only has three postseason starts under his belt, and for the first time, he’€™ll make a start in a championship series round when he faces off against Doug Fister and the Tigers in Game 4 of the ALCS at Comerica Park on Wednesday. Boston leads the best of seven series 2-1.

Peavy’€™s third career postseason start came on Oct. 8 in the Red Sox‘€™s Game 4 ALDS win against the Rays. He lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed just one run on five hits and struck out three at Tropicana Field. Peavy (12-5, 4.17 ERA) exited the game with Boston trailing 1-0, and his pitch count at just 74, but the Red Sox came back to win, and clinch the series.

‘€œJake, on a normal situation, we’re probably having a fist fight on the mound right there,” manager John Farrell said after the game about pulling Peavy during the sixth inning. “Our starters recognize the time of the year it is, the importance of every out, the importance of every matchup.”

Boston acquired Peavy from the White Sox on July 30 in a three-team trade that sent shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit. Peavy improved his ERA from 4.28 with Chicago to 4.04 with Boston, where he recorded a 4-1 record in 10 starts.

Peavy previously started a pair of postseason games in 2005 and 2006 as a member of the Padres. He had immense success in his eight years with San Diego, but not in the postseason. In two starts and 9 2/3 innings (both against the Cardinals, in the divisional series round), he allowed 13 earned runs and 23 hits plus walks.

Peavy faced the Tigers once this season, in his last outing as a member of the White Sox. He earned a win in Chicago’€™s 7-4 victory on July 25. Peavy allowed four runs in seven innings, and struck out seven batters.

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Read More: Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister, jake peavy, Jed Lowrie
No regrets from Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez: ‘It’s not about throwing a no-hitter’ 10.13.13 at 2:30 am ET
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Six innings and 116 pitches into his night at Fenway Park, even Anibal Sanchez had to admit: He did what he set out to do.

Yes, the right-hander had held the Red Sox hitless through that point, and yes, he had struck out 12 Boston batters in the process, but given his high pitch count ‘€” boosted by six walks ‘€” and Detroit’€™s well-rested bullpen, there were bigger rewards at stake than individual glory.

‘€œ[Tigers manager Jim Leyland] told me that my job is done. I said, ‘€˜Yeah,’€™’€ Sanchez said. ‘€œBecause I have got a lot of pitches. So I didn’€™t want to rush back just because we had a no-hitter. I think they needed to bring some fresh arms to get some innings quickly, and get the team ‘€” get the win, which is what we did today.’€

Indeed, four Tiger relievers combined to pitch the final three innings, preserving the 1-0 lead Sanchez departed with and getting Detroit the win in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. The Red Sox remained without a hit until there was one out in the bottom of the ninth when Daniel Nava lined a single to center off of right-handed closer Joaquin Benoit.

It was a big bounce-back game for Sanchez, who was lit up to the tune of six runs in 4 1/3 innings by the Athletics in the Division Series last Monday.

Sanchez’€™ outing was a bit touch-and-go, however. After tossing 51 pitches in just two innings, he settled in for three perfect frames to seemingly get his pitch count at a reasonable 88 through five. The sixth featured Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and Nava working walks to load the bases with two outs and Stephen Drew due up.

That gave Leyland his first big personnel decision of the night. On one hand, he had relievers warmed up in the bullpen and Sanchez was already well over the 100-pitch mark. On the other, Drew was a career .250 hitter off Sanchez, whose fastballs were still touching 96 mph that inning.

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