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MacArthur: Game 3 not pivotal but important for Tigers-Red Sox

Scott MacArthur
10/15/2013 12:27:18 PM
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DETROIT – The American League Championship Series shifts to Comerica Park for Game 3, a matinee, 4pm et/1pm pt start.

Detroit and Boston are deadlocked, 1-1, and Tigers manager Jim Leyland could be forgiven if he was caught rationalizing instead of dissecting how his club could blow a 5-1 lead late in Game 2.

“Well, I think it's pretty simple,” said Leyland. “We let one get away. There's no secret to that. I think the way you have to look at it in my opinion is we probably should be 1-1 and that's what we are. They're probably scratching their head trying to figure out how they didn't win the first game and we're scratching our head saying how we let one get away (Sunday) night.”

It would be premature to suggest Tuesday's is the pivotal game of the series. One team will go up 2-1 and it will be incumbent upon Tuesday's loser to bounce back on Wednesday evening.

Game 3 Preview

PITCHING MATCHUP:

Red Sox RHP John Lackey (Regular season: 10-13, 3.52, 1.157 WHIP; Playoffs: 1-0, 6.75, 1.875 WHIP in 5.1IP)

2013 vs. Detroit: 0-1, 3.14, 1.116 WHIP, no home runs allowed in 14 1/3 innings pitched.

Toughest matchup: DH Victor Martinez and SS Jhonny Peralta hit Lackey well but neither has shown any power against him.

Martinez: 11-29, .379/.471/.414, 1 2B, 4 BB.

Peralta: 11-31, .355/.364/.387, 1 2B, 4 RBI.

Torii Hunter has two career home runs off Lester, Miguel Cabrera and Ramon Santiago has one each.

Interesting note: Lackey's last playoff win, prior to his Game 2 victory over Tampa Bay in the ALDS, came as a member of the Angels, against the Red Sox, in the 2009 ALDS. Lackey's Angels swept that series, 3-0.

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Tigers RHP Justin Verlander (Regular season: 13-12, 3.46, 1.315 WHIP; Playoffs: 1-0, 0.0, 0.553 WHIP in 15IP)

Did not face Boston in 2013.

Toughest matchup: Verlander is typically overpowering but David Ortiz has hit him hard over the years.

Ortiz: 10-27, .370/.433/.741, 2 HR, 4 2B, 4 RBI.

Mike Napoli: 7-23, .304/.429/.435, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 5 BB.

Verlander wasn't at Fenway Park for his team's late meltdown in Game 2. He'd already flown back to Detroit in anticipation of getting good rest prior to Tuesday's start. It was a good thing he did; the Tigers didn't arrive home until 5am et Monday morning.

Verlander on the Game 2 loss:

“In my opinion these are the two best teams in the American League. We've made it to this point. When we play each other during the regular season it was a dogfight.  At this point in the season nobody is going to give in. Nobody is going to give an inch, even down 5-1. Those guys battled.  It was a heck of a ballgame. Obviously it sucks to let it slip away. This is baseball, you've got to reset and come ready to play the next game.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell on momentum, whether it exists in baseball and if it does, whether his team has it following its late win on Sunday night:

“You know, I think we certainly gained some confidence in the last couple of innings (Sunday) night, particularly how the first 14 or 15 innings of this series has gone. Much like we talked about coming into yesterday's game and putting Game 1 behind us, in my mind and in our clubhouse, Game 2 is behind us as well. It's been the beauty of this team all year long is to focus on tonight's or today's game, and almost be a little bit singular in mind and not be living in the past by any means.”

LINEUP CONSIDERATIONS:

Andy Dirks will get the start for the Tigers in left field. Jhonny Peralta will play shortstop. Dirks, a left-handed hitter, is 2-5 in his career against Lackey, including a triple. He's also taken a walk.

Dirks is the third starting left fielder for the Tigers in as many games. Peralta (Game 1) and Don Kelly (Game 2) are the others.

Mike Napoli will draw back into the starting lineup for the Red Sox, playing first base.

GAME THREE PREDICTION:

What's that saying about momentum being the next day's starting pitcher?

Verlander continues to roll, the Tigers get to Lackey and take a 2-1 lead in the series, winning Tuesday's game 6-2.

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