There have been challenging teams that stood in the Red Sox’ way in past Octobers, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite as fearsome a rotation in the Red Sox’ playoff path and maybe not as good an overall team as the 2013 Detroit Tigers. Combine that with a fairly potent offense (let’s face it, the Sox were lucky Miggy was not 100%) and it seemed like a recipe for trouble.
It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. The offense hit .202 across the ALCS. I don’t think it was just that the Detroit pitchers were good (although that was most of it); I think the Sox hitters were not at their best their entire series. The margins of victory in the Red Sox wins were 1, 1, 1, and 3.
Number of innings (and pitches) thrown by Tigers starter in each game: 6, 7, 8, 6, 6, 6.1. (116, 108, 120, 98, 108, 110)
Number of runs (earned or not) allowed by Tigers starters in each game: 0, 1, 1, 1, 4, 3*. * = Bullpen allowed 2 of Scherzer’s runs to score on Victorino’s slam in Game 6.
So how did the Red Sox win?
In Games 2 and 6, the wins came because the Sox managed to get the starter (Scherzer in both cases) out of the game (late, but not too late) and then hit the bullpen hard (Papi slam, Salty walkoff, Victorino slam).
In Game 3, the win came because the Sox countered an excellent starting performance (Verlander) with their own starter’s superb performance (Lackey).
In Game 5, the win came because the Sox managed just enough runs off the starter.
In all 4 of those cases (and in both losses, too), the constant was the bullpen. Whether they were needed for 2 innings or 5, the bullpen was shutdown.
Number of runs allowed by Sox bullpen in each game: 0, 0, 0, 0*, 1, 0*. * = Workman allowed a Peavy run in Game 4, Morales allowed Buchholz’s 2 runs to score in Game 6.
Uehara, Breslow, and Tazawa (probably in that order, despite Tazawa’s success with Cabrera) were a supremely stable bridge. Workman did his job well. Only Morales was a failure, and hopefully he does not make the WS roster (Britton or even Thornton couldn’t possibly be worse). I think the bullpen won the Sox that series, and Uehara getting the ALCS MVP with six shutout innings represents that well.