Grading Red Sox-Tigers ALCS Game 4: Oh, neighborhood play

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

Quick Hits: Torii Hunter's big double the turning point

The Tigers took down the Red Sox, 7-3, in Game 4 of the ALCS Wednesday night. The win meant the two clubs are now knotted at two in the best-of-7 series, setting up a rather pivotal Game 5 for Thursday night.

Let's hammer out five grades, A-F, shall we?

ACombination A here: The Tigers offense, Austin Jackson and the change made by manager Jim Leyland. Look, we don't know if things end up the same if Leyland leaves everything as he had throughout the postseason. It doesn't matter, though, because a change was made the offense came through in a big way. The result was an A performance. Not only that, but Jackson was the one who was dropped in the order -- while everyone else was just bumped up a spot -- and he had a great night, going 2-for-2 with two walks, a run and two RBI. Maybe that's what he needed to get on track. As for the offense as a whole, they scored seven runs in eight innings after having not scored a run in the previous 12 innings heading into the game.
B+Doug Fister easily did enough on the hill to gather the victory, going six innings and striking out seven while only allowing one run. He did allow more hits (eight) than the previous three Tigers starters combined (six), though, so we have to knock him down to a B+, right? I mean, Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are probably playfully telling him he sucks right now. (Not really, but you get the point -- and maybe they will in the offseason if they win this series).
CThe Tigers bullpen just needed to not blow the game and the series would end up tied at two. Mission accomplished, I guess. Still, in three innings of work they allowed two runs on four hits. Drew Smyly was great, but Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit were not. After the Game 2 debacle, neither the starters nor Jim Leyland likely have much faith in their relievers.
DRough night for the so-called neighborhood rule -- which is that a shortstop or second baseman on a double play need not absolutely, 100 percent be touching the base when he catches the feed on the turn. Look at this picture of Stephen Drew. That's him catching a feed. Look how far away he is from the base. Now, this isn't an F because I support the neighborhood rule in general, so long as it's close. Due to the league allowing baserunners to so blatantly take out the defender, the defender has to have a way to protect himself. So he hits the bag maybe a split second before catching the ball and jumping away while throwing to first. That's been around for generations and I really don't want that to go away. It's just that the defender should actually be close to the bag. Drew wasn't in the neighborhood here and Jackson should have been ruled safe. The good news is this didn't affect the outcome at all, as the Tigers would go on to win.
FThe Red Sox offense is struggling -- relatively speaking, of course -- which is due to the Tigers having great starting pitching. In turn, the Red Sox need good starts to hang in each game, much like they got from John Lackey in their Game 3 win. Jake Peavy in Game 4, however, was pretty bad. That's actually an understatement. He coughed up seven runs on five hits with three walks while only striking out one in three-plus innings. Even with his powerful offensive teammates, Peavy didn't keep things close enough early on to give his team a chance.
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