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MacArthur: Tigers closing in on must-win territory in Game 4

Scott MacArthur
10/16/2013 3:02:52 PM
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DETROIT – The swing game, Game 4, of the ALCS is scheduled for Comerica Park just after 8pm et.

The Tigers are closing in on must-win territory, and certainly don't want to fall behind 3-1 in the series with Jon Lester set to start Game 5 for the Red Sox and Games 6 and 7, if necessary, back at Fenway Park.

Let's take a closer look at this one.

GAME FOUR PREVIEW:

PITCHING MATCHUP:

Red Sox RHP Jake Peavy (Regular season: 12-5, 4.17, 1.147 WHIP; Playoffs: 0-0, 1.59, 0.882 WHIP in 5.2IP)

2013 vs. Detroit: 1 GS – 1-0, 7IP, 5.14, 0.857 WHIP but three of four hits allowed were home runs.

Toughest matchups: Torii Hunter and Austin Jackson have traditionally given Peavy headaches.

Hunter: 7-16, 1 HR, 1 2B, 1 3B, 7 RBI, 1 BB.

Jackson: 9-28, 1 HR, 2 3B, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K.

The Peavy vs. Miguel Cabrera showdown will be fun because each has enjoyed success against the other.

Cabrera's slash line, in 45 career at-bats against Peavy, is .289/.347/.511 and he's hit three home runs, a double, driven in nine runs and walked four times. Peavy has, however, struck out Cabrera 14 times.

Interesting note: Red Sox manager John Farrell heralded the three-way trade involving the Tigers and White Sox, which landed Peavy in Boston, as being a successful deal for all sides.

“It's a great baseball trade because it clearly had specific needs and fit for the three teams involved,” said Farrell. “Secondly, you have to give up a quality player to get a quality player in return … It was a very good baseball trade for all teams involved.”

The trade was made on July 30. The Red Sox got Peavy from Chicago and pitcher Brayan Villarreal from Detroit. The Tigers got shortstop Jose Iglesias from Boston. The White Sox acquired outfielder Avisail Garcia from Detroit and prospects Cleulius Rondon, Francellis Montas and Jeffrey Wendelken from Boston.

Tigers RHP Doug Fister (Regular season: 14-9, 3.67, 1.308 WHIP; Playoffs: 0-0, 4.50, 1.333 WHIP in 6IP)

2013 vs. Boston: 2GS, 1-1, 5.23, 1.935 WHIP in 10.1IP, 1 HR.

Toughest matchup: Look for Daniel Nava to return to the Red Sox starting lineup for Game 4, if his success against Fister is any indication.

Nava vs. Fister: 5-12, .417/.500/.667, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 2BB.

Also, Jarrod Saltalmaccchia: 5-11, .455/.455/.909, 1 HR, 2 2B, 1 RBI.

Of the other Red Sox other than Saltalamacchia, only Shane Victorino (1) has ever homered off Fister.

Fister has reasonably contained Boston slugger David Ortiz: 5-20, .250/.318/.350, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB.

LINEUP CONSIDERATIONS:

Fister is a sinkerball pitcher and, therefore, tends to pitch to contact. When he's on, he gets a lot of groundball outs.

This could prompt manager Jim Leyland to reinsert shortstop Jose Iglesias into the starting lineup, moving Jhonny Peralta to left field. We'll know later this afternoon.

As mentioned above, expect Daniel Nava to get the call in left field for Boston, given his history against Fister.

GAME FOUR PREDICTION:

Whether it was Wil Myers' crucial misplay in Game 1 of the ALDS or the dramatic comeback in Game 2 of the ALCS or John Lackey's ability to go pitch-for-pitch with Justin Verlander in Game 3, it feels as though everything is going the Red Sox way.

Keep in mind, I'm only 1-3 in picking the right winning team so far but I'm calling Boston to push the Tigers to the brink with a 5-3 win tonight.

Hey, there has to be more runs at some point, doesn't there?

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