(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Tigers' starting staff has been nearly unhittable in the American League Championship Series. Yet, the Tigers find themselves down, 2-1, to the Boston Red Sox.
Doug Fister hopes for some run support on Wednesday when the Tigers and Red Sox play Game 4 of the ALCS at Comerica Park.
Boston snatched control of the best-of-seven set on Tuesday, as Mike Napoli broke a scoreless tie with a solo home run off Justin Verlander in the seventh inning, and John Lackey and the Red Sox bullpen made the blast stand up in a 1-0 victory.
The Red Sox had mustered a mere three hits and one run for the series entering the eighth inning of Sunday's Game 2, when David Ortiz brought Boston back to life with a game-tying grand slam and the AL East champs rallied for a thrilling 6-5 win. They managed only four hits and struck out 10 times in eight innings against Verlander (0-1).
Lackey (1-0) was splendid during his 6 2/3-inning stint, holding the Tigers to four hits and striking out eight without a walk. Three relievers finished off the shutout, with Game 2 winner Koji Uehara shutting the door with a four-out save.
"John Lackey was outstanding," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He held his stuff throughout the entire time he was out there. Just very good work by every guy that went to the mound today."
Of the previous 31 occasions, the team with the 2-1 advantage has gone on to win the series 23 times. And since the ALCS converted to a best-of-seven format in 1985, 17 of 22 teams to take a 2-1 series lead have moved on.
Detroit went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position for the game, with Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez each going 2-for-4 in the loss.
"Today I thought Lackey and (catcher Jarrod) Saltalamacchia were absolutely terrific, game calling, pitch making," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "(Alex) Avila and Verlander were exactly the same. It was just tremendous pitching and both guys called a great game. And that pretty much sums it up."
Miguel Cabrera went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and failed to reach base in a postseason game for the first time as a Tiger and just the third time in his career, ending a 31-game, postseason-record streak.
"Gotta swing at better pitches," Cabrera said.
Prince Fielder, meanwhile, hasn't had an RBI in his last 57 postseason at- bats.
Amazingly, the Tigers' .231 average this postseason is the second-best mark of the four teams still alive. Their 23 runs, however, are the lowest total.
Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Verlander have combined for a sparkling 0.86 ERA in this series. Now Fister gets the call in his second start this postseason.
Fister allowed three runs in six innings as the Tigers beat Oakland 8-6 in Game 4 of the Division Series on Oct. 8. He gave up six runs and 11 hits while lasting just 3 1/3 innings in a 10-6 home loss to Boston on June 21, but held the Red Sox to four hits in seven innings of a 3-0 victory at Fenway Park on Sept. 2.
"I think a lot of it is the fact of just executing - keeping the ball down, mixing pitches and not getting in any sort of routine," Fister said. "Their hitters are very smart, very intelligent. And you know, we've seen each other a lot."
Boston, meanwhile, will turn to righty Jake Peavy, who hasn't pitched since helping the Red Sox eliminate the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the ALDS back on Oct. 8. Peavy surrendered a run in 5 2/3 innings of that one.
Having pitched parts of the last five seasons for the Chicago White Sox, Peavy is quite familiar with the AL Central champion Tigers and is 4-5 lifetime against them with a 4.83 ERA.
"I do know those guys well," Peavy said. "It comes down to (Wednesday) night, executing the game plan that we think we're going to go with and get those guys out. It's a huge challenge with the way they swing the bat."
The Tigers were 4-3 against the Red Sox in 2013, winning three of four at Comerica Park in June.