Five Key Moments That Led to the Detroit Tigers' Victory in Game 1

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | Game 1 of the American League Championship Series was a classic pitcher's duel as the Detroit Tigers squeaked by the Boston Red Sox 1-0 on Oct. 12.

As is the case with most 1-0 games, there were a handful of small moments that added up to one large victory for the Tigers.

Hustle by Victor Martinez

While Jhonny Peralta knocked in the only run of the game, it was the previous at-bat that made Peralta's heroics possible. With runners on first and second base and one out, Martinez hit a slow roller to shortstop Stephen Drew, who fired the ball to second base for one out. While he is not the fleetest of foot, Martinez hustled down the line and beat out throw from second, negating the double play and extending the inning and allowing Peralta to step to the plate.

Drew Smyly stifles Big Papi

The left-handed reliever only faced one batter but it was against the Sox's unquestioned leader and most clutch player, David Ortiz. Called in to face the left-handed hitting slugger with two out in the eighth inning, Smyly battled his way through the at-bat and got Ortiz to pop out to center and end the inning.

Leyland sticks with Sanchez

Taking out a pitcher who is in the middle of a no-hitter may sound like a crazy thing to do, but no one would have blamed Jim Leyland if he did so in the sixth inning. Although starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez had struck out 11 batters and had not given up a hit, he had walked the bases loaded in the sixth inning.

With the sacks full and the left-handed hitting Drew at the plate, Leyland elected to stick with Sanchez and not bring in Smyly who was warming up at the time. Sanchez rewarded his manager's trust by striking out Drew and turning it over to the bullpen. He also allowed Leyland to save Smyly for later, which led to Smyly's big matchup against Ortiz.

Bad call goes Tigers' way

Tigers pitchers struck out 17 batters in Game 1, but one in particular was helped out by a bad call by umpire Joe West. In the bottom of the seventh inning with two out, Jacoby Ellsbury took a 3-1 fastball that appeared low. West called it a strike, making it a full count. On the next pitch, reliever Al Albuquerque struck out Ellsbury, ending the inning. A tremendous base-stealer, not allowing Ellsbury to get on base helped the Tigers immensely.

Sanchez escapes first inning

After striking out Ellsbury to open the bottom of the first inning, Sanchez struck out Shane Victorino on a wild pitch that allowed the speedy outfielder to reach base anyway. Victorino promptly stole second base and Dustin Pedroia followed with a walk, putting runners at first and second with one out.

Sanchez hunkered down, however, and struck out power hitters Ortiz and Mike Napoli. What could have been a disastrous start on the road for the Tigers, ended up being just the start of one of the strangest one-hitters in baseball history; more important for the Tigers, a Game 1 victory.

Matt Durr is a reporter from Michigan who has followed the Detroit Tigers his entire life. He has covered University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University athletics for Follow him on twitter @mdurr84.

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