DETROIT — Glass half-full or glass half-empty?
Full — The Red Sox have the Tigers right where they want them. Wednesday night’s 7-3 loss is a mere speed bump on Boston’s unstoppable march to the World Series. The American League Championship Series is square at 2-2, and two of the final three will be played at Fenway Park. The Sox have their best three pitchers — Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey — tanned, rested, and ready to go.
Empty — It’s a miracle the Sox are even in this thing. The Tigers are better and easily could have swept the first four games. The Sox have led in only four of the 36 innings. Boston’s lineup is batting an aggregate .186. The Sox produced a conga line of K’s against a quartet of Tiger starters. Detroit has Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander ready for Games 5, 6, and 7. In the first three games, those three pitchers struck out 35 Red Sox in 21 innings and compiled an ERA of 0.86.
Full — The Sox have the mojo, the duende, the karma. They have really great beards, they grind out at-bats, and they all love each other. They are Larry Lucchino’s “scrappy warriors.’’ Fox wants them in the World Series in the same way CBS’s Les Moonves wants the Patriots to win every game. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and the Sox will find more magic to make the Tigers disappear.
Empty — The Tigers are not going to roll over like the Tampa Tomato Cans. Detroit has big-boy ballplayers who know that this is their time. The Tigers are built to win in 2013. They have a 68-year-old manager who was not afraid to shake up his batting order after falling behind in the the series (“I think something had to be done.’’ — Jim Leyland). Detroit’s advance scouts have done a spectacular job exposing the weaknesses of the Red Sox hitters. The Tigers won Games 1 and 4, led Game 2, 5-0, and failed in Game 3 when their best player couldn’t push a run across with a man on third and one out. This thing should be over.
Full — The Sox’ bullpen (0.73 postseason ERA) is much better than the Tigers’ bullpen. Boston closer Koji Uehara is more trustworthy than combustible Joaquin Benoit. The Sox have more speed and defense than Detroit. The Sox had 12 hits in Game 4. Jacoby Ellsbury had a four-hit game, just like in Colorado when the Sox won the World Series.
Empty — Shane Victorino is 2 for 16 and can’t even get hit by a pitch anymore. David Ortiz is a big 1 for 15 against the Tigers. Stephen Drew is 3 for 28 in the playoffs with six strikeouts in four games of the ALCS. Will Middlebrooks is 1 for 10 in the series (step up to the plate Thursday night, Mr. Xander Bogaerts).
Full — Here at the Globe, we are sending in our measurements for World Series rings.
Empty — The beard thing has been beaten to death. We’re officially sick of the beards and comments and stories about the beards. Enough already with the beards. Mix it up. Please shave.
After three one-run games, we finally had a blowout in Game 4. Leyland bumped his leadoff man to the No. 8 spot and put his MVP basher into the No. 2 spot, calling it “just a little something to, you know, churn up the butter a little bit.’’
It worked. The heretofore frustrated Tigers routed Sox starter Jake Peavy. After failing miserably in Game 3, Miguel Cabrera delivered in the clutch twice. He even stole a base (while the Tigers were leading, 7-0). The Sox, meanwhile, were uncharacteristically sloppy. Dustin Pedroia’s bobble of a certain double-play grounder extended the second inning and enabled the Tigers to blow the game open early.
Peavy (he now has four postseason starts, three of them dogs) had no command and the Tigers finally forced a jailbreak in the second inning. After a leadoff single by the scalding Victor Martinez, Peavy walked three of the next four batters. Most egregious was walking Austin Jackson on four pitches with the bases loaded. Jackson was 3 for 33 in the playoffs with 18 strikeouts and had surrendered his leadoff job to 38-year-old Torii Hunter.
Down, 1-0, the Sox hurt themselves uncharacteristically when Pedroia bobbled a sure double-play grounder by Jose Iglesias. Pedroia managed to get an out at second (even though Drew was far off the bag when he took the throw), but Boston’s inability to convert allowed a second run to score and opened the gate for the Tigers. Back-to-back hits by Hunter and Cabrera made it 5-0. No one-run game on this night.
“We probably contributed to the building of the inning,’’ said Sox manager John Farrell. “You’re asking for a little bit of trouble with additional base runners. Giving them an extra out leads to a crooked number on the board.’’Continued...