By Noah Trister AP Baseball Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — DETROIT — Jim Leyland had no big plans for Detroit’s oddest lineup card of the year.
“I’ll throw it away, unless I can sell it to some bar on the way home,” the Detroit manager said.
Torii Hunter batting leadoff and Miguel Cabrera hitting second worked well enough Wednesday night for the Tigers, who beat the Boston Red Sox 7-3 to even the AL Championship Series 2-all.
Leyland used his new lineup in an effort to boost the offense after the Tigers lost 1-0 in Game 3. Slumping leadoff hitter Austin Jackson was dropped to eighth in the order, and he responded with two hits and two walks.
Detroit scored five runs in the second inning, the first coming home on a bases-loaded walk by Jackson. Hunter had a two-run double and Cabrera drove in two runs.
Jackson was 3-for-33 with 18 strikeouts in this postseason before Wednesday. He said the walk in the second inning that brought home a run put him at ease a bit.
“It was a big situation right there to try to get something done,” Jackson said. “I think after I’d seen a couple of pitches I was able to kind of just take some deep breaths and relax a little bit — and not worry so much about the result, just try to get a good pitch.”
Leyland was quick to deflect credit for the lineup switch.
“This has nothing to do with Jim Leyland; this is about the players,” Leyland said. “They executed, they came out, they played well.”
Doug Fister provided another fine outing for Detroit. He allowed a run in six innings, and the Tigers’ starting pitchers have yielded only three runs in 27 ALCS innings while striking out 42.
After blowing a 5-0 lead in Game 2, Detroit kept the Red Sox at bay Wednesday.
Game 5 is tonight in Detroit. The Tigers’ Anibal Sanchez faces Boston’s Jon Lester in a rematch of Game 1, which was won by Detroit 1-0.
Jacoby Ellsbury had four hits for the Red Sox on Wednesday, finishing a homer shy of the cycle, but now it’s Boston manager John Farrell fielding questions about whether a lineup shake-up is in order after another tough night against Detroit’s pitching.
“The one thing that we’ve maintained is a constant approach with the lineup and not creating further uncertainty,” Farrell said. “I think our guys have responded well to that.”
The Tigers lost Games 2 and 3, wasting gems by Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Leyland left Jackson in the lineup but changed the batting order. Jackson hit eighth, and other hitters moved up a spot. That left Hunter hitting leadoff for the first time since 1999, and Cabrera was second for only the third time in his career — first since 2004.
Leyland indicated his batting order would remain the same in Game 5.
Jackson found himself batting in a crucial situation right away in the second. Boston starter Jake Peavy walked him to force home the game’s first run.
The Red Sox had a chance to halt that rally when Jose Iglesias hit a potential double-play grounder to second, but Dustin Pedroia couldn’t field it cleanly and Boston had to settle for a forceout at second that brought another run home.
“That was my fault. We’ve got to turn that double play,” Pedroia said. “That ball was smoked. If I catch it, we’re getting two.”
Hunter followed with a double down the line in left to make it 4-0, and Cabrera added an RBI single.
Peavy was in trouble again in the fourth. After a leadoff double by Omar Infante, Jackson slapped a single past a diving Pedroia to bring home a run.
Cabrera’s single made it 7-0, and the Detroit third baseman — who has been running even slower than usual over the past month or so because of groin problems — caught reliever Brandon Workman and the Boston defense napping when he stole second without a throw.
In the fifth, Cabrera looked healthy enough when he charged Pedroia’s slow grounder, barehanded it and threw to first for the out.