Red Sox credit Tigers, aim to revive offense in Game 2
BOSTON -- The quiet of the Boston clubhouse after the game matched the quiet in the stands after the final out and the quiet of the team's bats throughout nine long innings over almost four hours.
This was about as atypical an evening as you could find for the powerhouse offense of the 2013 Red Sox. Game 1 in the American League Championship Series saw them flail away at the fastballs and offspeed offerings of Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez and four Tigers relievers, converse with or just stare back at home-plate umpire Joe West about the strike zone, walk back to the dugout empty-handed, and barely stave off what would have been one seriously historic no-hitter in a 1-0 loss Saturday night at Fenway Park.
"You just kind of say, 'Hey, man, it's one of those nights,' and you hope it doesn't happen, ever," said Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava, who broke up the no-no with one out in the ninth against Detroit closer Joaquin Benoit. "But it did."
Yes, it did, and now the Red Sox trail the series, 1-0, and have to face Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in Games 2 and 3. Game 2 is Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on FOX at Fenway Park.
Sanchez, meanwhile, had the lowest ERA of any starter in the AL during the regular season, and despite the fact that he walked six and threw 116 pitches in six innings, he struck out 12 while his team scratched out that rare commodity, a run, and it was enough. Boston's 17 team strikeouts matched a postseason record in a nine-inning game.
The Red Sox might have long beards, but they're not particularly philosophical, nor did they feel any need to be after this one.
"We just didn't get any hits, man," second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. "That was it. We had opportunities. [Sanchez] made pitches when he needed to. That was it."
One Boston player after another was asked for explanations. It didn't seem to make sense that a team with such a high-octane offense would sputter in such extreme fashion at home. They were asked if it was Sanchez's deception. They were asked if some of West's close calls took their concentration away just a little bit. They were asked if they felt the pressure of the moment.
They chalked it up to a combination of Sanchez and the Tigers' bullpen, and the strange but wonderful game of baseball that sometimes gives and sometimes takes away.
"You never use the word pressure," Boston outfielder Shane Victorino said. "You just want to keep going. You want to have as good of at-bats as you can. It's not a good feeling to be on the other end. It's a great feeling to be on the side where there is a no-hitter going, but we didn't do what we needed to do tonight.
"We've just got to stay focused. It's a seven-game series, and we're down, 1-0. We'll go from there."
Victorino was more animated toward West than most of his teammates, and he admitted that some of his assumptions on pitch calls were incorrect.
"He's the one behind the plate," Victorino said. "He's controlling the game. Not any ifs, ands or buts. It's his game. And … sometimes you're wrong. I know a couple pitches I was wrong when I asked him, 'Was that ball a strike?' and I went back and looked at it and I was wrong.
"It's just part of the game. In the heat of the moment, you're going to think differently until you get to understand and go back and look at it."
Red Sox catcher David Ross said the pressure part of it was felt, as always, by both teams deep in the postseason. No surprises there.
"They did a good job," Ross said. "This is a hard game, and there's a reason why they're in here. This is what we expect. We expect the best. This is … we think, the best other team in the American League, period. And we're going to battle them tooth and nail and see how it comes out in the end."
So while it might have been quiet, the prevailing mood in the clubhouse was one of a team ready to forget about it and show up for Game 2.
"The team that wins this has to win four games," Pedroia said. "So obviously it was tough. We didn't score, even with the way we pitched. But we've got to come out tomorrow and play the game like we can."