The Detroit Tigers nearly made history on Saturday night, but instead settled for a combined one-hitter in their 1-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox. Boston's first hit didn't come until Daniel Nava blooped a single into short center field against Joaquin Benoit with one out in the ninth. Detroit's pitchers up to that point were starter Anibal Sanchez and relievers Al Alburquerque, Jose Veras and Drew Smyly.
Had Detroit's staff gone the distance, it would have been the first ever combined no-hitter in postseason history and third overall. Don Larsen threw a perfect game on Oct. 8, 1956 for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series. Roy Halladay threw a true no-hitter on Oct. 6, 2010. His came for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the NLDS.
It wasn't historic, but Detroit will take the 1-0 lead in the ALCS and look to get greedy in Game 2 on Sunday.
Boston made Anibal Sanchez work hard for his outs early, but Detroit’s right-hander held his own and continued putting up zeroes in the hits and runs column through six strong innings. He also made postseason history by striking out four batters in the first inning after Shane Victorino reached on a wild pitch. He finished with 12 strikeouts overall.
The Detroit bullpen was even better than Sanchez, combining to throw three shutout innings with only one hit allowed and no walks. They struck out five.
Jhonny Peralta made up for a base running gaffe in the fifth inning to drive home the game's only run with a two-out single in the sixth.
He was overshadowed by his counterpart, but there's no shame in Jon Lester's performance. In 6 1/3 innings, Lester allowed one run on six hits, striking out four of his own. On just about any other night, he would have been the winning pitcher in Game 1.
The Boston offense was patient, as per usual, drawing six walks in the game. But they couldn't get that elusive clutch hit. In particular, Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino went a combined 0 for 8 at the top of the order with six strikeouts. They were Boston's spark plugs in their ALDS victory over Tampa Bay.
As a team, Boston struck out 17 times.
Detroit squandered a chance at a big inning in the fifth. After Jhonny Peralta led off the frame with a double, he was immediately erased on Omar Infante’s sharp ground ball to first baseman Mike Napoli when he was caught too far off the bag. Despite the gaffe, Detroit still mounted a threat with runners at the corners and one out, but Infante was later thrown out at home on an infield grounder. A potential big inning turned sour quickly, but it hardly mattered in the end.
Boston's best chance to break through against Anibal Sanchez came after he walked the bases loaded in the sixth inning. However, Sanchez rebounded to strikeout Stephen Drew to end the threat and end his evening with six hitless innings.
• There had never been two 1-0 games on the same day in the MLB postseason until Saturday.
• According to Elias, this was the longest nine-inning, 1-0 game in postseason history at three hours, 56 minutes.
• The Tigers were the first team in baseball history to carry no-hitters through six innings in back-to-back postseason games.
• Detroit's 17 strikeouts are tied for the most by a pitching staff in a nine-inning postseason game.
• Just how close Detroit came to making postseason history with a combined no-hitter.
• The remarkable job Anibal Sanchez did to fight through and shutdown a patient Boston lineup.
• How will Boston's offense bounce back with Max Scherzer awaiting them in Game 2?
What will these teams do for an encore on Sunday night? We'll find out at 8:07 p.m. ET when Max Scherzer (21-3, 2.90) takes on Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74) at Fenway Park.