Silent Night for Sox
Boston Musters Only One Hit Against Tigers’ Arms
Boston — Anibal Sanchez and four Detroit Tigers relievers came within two outs of the first combined no-hitter in postseason history, striking out 17 to beat the Boston Red Sox 1-0 Saturday night in the AL championship series opener.
Boston was hitless until Daniel Nava singled off Joaquin Benoit with one out in the ninth.
Stephen Drew followed Nava and flied out to right and, with the potential tying run on second, Xander Bogaerts hit a game-ending popout to shortstop.
Sanchez, the AL’s regular-season ERA leader, was pulled after six innings and 116 pitches. Al Albuquerque, Jose Veras, Drew Smyly and Benoit stretched the no-hitter into the ninth before Nava ended their bid for the third postseason no-hitter ever.
Jhonny Peralta had an RBI single off Jon Lester in the sixth for the game’s only run. It was a day for pitching in the playoffs — St. Louis beat the Dodgers 1-0 in the NLCS.
Arms Race for Game 2
Max Scherzer won his first 13 decisions. Clay Buchholz won his first 11. One of their teams will lose tonight when Scherzer starts for the Tigers against Buchholz and the Red Sox in Game 2.
Scherzer is a favorite to win the AL Cy Young Award after going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA.
“My confidence level has always been the same from the day I arrived into the big leagues to now,” Scherzer said. “I believe confidence is a choice. And I always choose I’m going to believe that I’m always going to come out on top.”
After his first loss July 13, he won his next six decisions. Scherzer finished the regular season with a 1-0 win at Minnesota on Sept. 25, won the AL division series opener against Oakland and got the victory in Game 4 when he allowed one run in two innings of relief.
Buchholz was 9-0 before going on the disabled list for three months with a strained neck. He won his first two starts after returning on Sept. 10, then lost before winning his final start. He finished with 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA.
“Didn’t think I’d ever be that good,” Buchholz said. “The frustrating part was I couldn’t go out and pitch and try to keep it going. So it was definitely a fun first half for me, which I would have given a lot of it up to pitch throughout the season.”
Boston manager John Farrell said Buchholz is in good shape.
“In the starts that he’s made since coming off the DL, there’s still been a little bit of a building component, building his stamina and endurance,” Farrell said. “Coming out of, particularly, the last three starts, where we’ve been able to get him over 100, 110 pitches on each of those outings, I think he comes away with greater confidence on the physical side of things.”