Despite being held without a hit for 8⅓ innings, Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday night was never truly out of reach for the Red Sox.
Jon Lester scattered just six hits over 6⅓ innings of work. Against Detroit’s high-powered lineup, the lone run he surrendered came on a Jhonny Peralta single in the sixth inning — a blooper that landed softly in center field.
It was Lester’s best attempt at matching Anibal Sanchez’s six innings of no-hit baseball, and the type of quality start that could have ended with a victory. But the run support never followed, as Detroit grinded out a 1-0 victory.
“It was a battle, it stinks that one run beats you but that’s playoff baseball,” Lester said. “So hopefully we can come out tomorrow.
“We had some good at-bats tonight, their pitching staff just did a real good job, when they did get in trouble, obviously not allowing us to get that big hit.”
Lester, who threw 109 pitches, mixed in his cutter, curveball, and sinker to keep Detroit’s power hitters off balance. In a seven-pitch at-bat against Prince Fielder in the fourth inning, the lefty fired six sinkers, including five straight. On the final pitch, Fielder grounded out to second base.
In the sixth inning, with runners on first and third, Lester left an off-speed pitch over the plate and Peralta chipped it to center field, scoring Miguel Cabrera.
“Me giving up one run to this team, you got to like your chances,” Lester said. “You got to show up tomorrow, hopefully score a couple.”
Throughout the night, the Red Sox defense stood strong behind Lester.
Lester gave up a leadoff double to Peralta to start the fifth inning. In the next at-bat, Omar Infante up grounded to Mike Napoli, who was playing on the infield grass at first base. Peralta hesitated, and Napoli fired to second base to get him out as he dove back to the bag.
Alex Avila then singled to right field, where Shane Victorino misplayed the ball allowing Infante to advance to third base.
Jose Iglesias followed with a sharp ground ball to Will Middlebrooks, and the third baseman fielded it on the backhand and fired home to get Infante at the plate to keep the game scoreless at the time.Anthony Gulizia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @gulizia_a.