It's late and I'm too emotionally drained to really give this game it's due. However, this was the first post-season game ever between two great historical franchises and it it turned out to be a classic. So, I need to comment.
This game was so emotionally charged that I kept forgetting the Tigers had a no hitter going until Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava singled off closer Joaquin Benoit with one out in the ninth. Starter Anibal Sanchez had a no hit shutout with 12 strikeouts for six innings, but it was absolutely the right decision to take him out of the game. His pitch count was up to 116 and he had worked a stressful sixth loading the bases on walks before striking out Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew to end it. I was actually expecting him to be removed after the third base on balls.
Sanchez combined with four relievers - Al Alburquerque, Jose Veras, Drew Smiley and Benoit for 17 strikeouts tying a post-season record for most strikeouts in a nine inning game. The first time that happened, the Tigers were the victim as Bob Gibson retired 17 Tigers on strikes in game one of the 1968 World Series. The other instance was in 1998 when Kevin Brown (16) and Trevor Hoffman (1) punched out 17 Astros in the first game of the National League Divisional Series. Thanks to Baseball-Reference for recently adding post-season games to their Play Index. That made this really easy to look up.
Sanchez tied another record with four strikeouts in the first inning. Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino reached first after strike three got by catcher Alex Avila and Sanchez added three traditional strikeouts. The only other pitcher to do that was Orval Overall of the Cubs in 1908 World Series. The Tigers were on the other side of that one too.
The start by Sanchez produced a Game Score of 80, tying him for ninth best game for a Tiger in post-season. The top score was by Justin Verlander with 89 in Game five versus the Athletics last season. The second one also belongs to Verlander with 87 in Game five versus the Athletics this year.
The hitting star once again was Jhonny Peralta who singled home the only run in of the game in the sixth inning. He also had two doubles in the game. Peralta has certainly answered any concerns about rust after his 50-game suspension. I'm sure there are people across the country, especially Red Sox fans, who are not happy with his participation in post-season after a Performance Enhancing Drug suspension. Not many Tigers fans are complaining though.
It was a quite a way for the Tigers to start the series and the best part is that their two best pitchers - Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander - are lined up to pitch games two and three.