The Red Sox were held to one hit by a dominant Tigers pitching staff led by Anibal Sanchez.
There's going to be a lot of talk about Joe West's strike zone and runners left on base (there were plenty of walks to go around), but the real failure tonight started in inning three, and was not so much about hits as it was about pitches.
Through the first two innings, this was looking like a short night for Anibal Sanchez. The man who led the league in ERA for the regular season came out with some filthy stuff, but not the best control over it. With just about every Red Sox batter who came to the plate in the first two innings having a good at bat, Sanchez managed to avoid damage, but already had 50 pitches on his arm to get just six outs.
If the Red Sox had kept on having good at bats, maybe they would have gotten Sanchez out of the game earlier and left Detroit's bullpen with 12-15 outs to record. Maybe they would have kept that solid approach that brought them so much success in 2013.
Instead they started swinging at garbage. Absolute garbage. Not just Sanchez' excellent pitches, not just the paint--though there was still enough of that to go around--but pitches in the dirt, on their hands. Even worse, they started swinging early. One-pitch outs from Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks the second time through the lineup stand out, as does a baffling Shane Victorino bunt towards first, instead of towards the hobbled Miguel Cabrera at third. But that was just symptomatic of a team-wide tailspin into impatience.
That aforementioned Victorino bunt would actually signal, along with one of the worst David Ortiz at bats you'll ever see, the end of that awfulness, with three walks loading the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Stephen Drew stepped up to the plate and took ball one, but from there Sanchez just didn't give him the option, firing off four pitches in the zone, managing to miss Drew's bat with the last one to end the inning. That would be it from Sanchez, but that was one or two innings more than he should have gotten after throwing 50 in the first two innings.
The one run for Detroit would come before all that in the top of the sixth. After walking Miguel Cabrera and hitting Prince Fielder, Jon Lester almost got out of the inning with a ground ball to shortstop, but Victor Martinez just barely beat out the double play at first, allowing Jhonny Peralta to come to the plate with runners at the corners. From there, all it took was a flare to center to give the Tigers the only run they'd need.
The Red Sox would finally break up the no-hitter with one out in the ninth, Daniel Nava getting the job done with a hit not unlike Peralta's. Quintin Berry would come in to pinch run, and eventually stole second, but a fly ball to deep right for Stephen Drew didn't have enough on it, and Xander Bogaerts worked a long at bat against Joaquin Benoit, but it ended with a pop-up to short that ended the night.