Narrow LCS wins for Cards, Tigers a same-day first in postseason
Runs were at a premium in both St. Louis and Boston on Saturday, when a pair of League Championship Series contests provided a historic day for pitching.
The Cardinals' victory over the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS and the Tigers' triumph over the Red Sox in the ALCS opener both included a single run, making for the first day in postseason history with multiple 1-0 games.
Both teams needed strong performances from their starting pitchers and bullpens to get the job done on a tense day of playoff baseball.
St. Louis rookie Michael Wacha went toe to toe with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, twirling his second straight October gem and blanking Los Angeles over 6 2/3 innings. He gave up only five hits and one walk while striking out eight, escaping trouble in the sixth after the Dodgers put runners on second and third with no outs.
For his part, Kershaw barely budged over his six innings. The Cardinals snuck across a run in the fifth when David Freese doubled, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on Jon Jay's sacrifice fly.
Six relievers chipped in to keep it a 1-0 game. The Dodgers couldn't manage a baserunner against the Cardinals' bullpen, with rookie fireballer Trevor Rosenthal striking out the side in the ninth with relentless high-90s heat.
When the postseason action shifted to Fenway Park on Saturday night, the pitching prowess followed suit.
Early on, it didn't appear that would be the case. Boston's Jon Lester gave up a pair of hits in the top of the first but got out of the jam. Detroit's Anibal Sanchez labored over the first two innings, when he allowed three batters to reach base without the benefit of a hit.
The Tigers' offense finally broke through against Lester in the sixth, on Jhonny Peralta's RBI single. It looked as though the 1-0 score was about to disappear in the top of the ninth, when Prince Fielder hit a flare to shallow left-center off Koji Uehara with runners on second and third and two outs. But Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew's beautiful over-the-shoulder grab preserved a quirky piece of history.
Sanchez had an unusual but effective night, striking out 12 but walking six over six no-hit innings. Four relievers combined to nearly finish the first no-hitter in LCS history -- but it was broken up on Daniel Nava's one-out single in the ninth. Closer Joaquin Benoit induced a game-ending popup from Xander Bogaerts with the potential tying run on second base.