Grading Game 5 of Red Sox-Tigers ALCS: Napoli comes through

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

Red Sox top Tigers in Game 5, quick hits: Miggy's double play the turning point

The Red Sox beat the Tigers, 4-3, in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series Thursday night in Detroit's beautiful Comerica Park. The Red Sox now head home with a three to two lead in the best-of-seven series.

Let's get out the red pen and throw five grades -- A-F -- on the board, as is customary in these parts.

TeamGradeAnalysis
AMike Napoli had been struggling mightily heading into Game 3 of this series, but now he's locked in. He homered off Justin Verlander and ended up being the only run scored in Game 3. He went 2-for-4 with a double in Game 4 and Thursday went 3-for-4 with a double and 460-foot homer. He's been stellar in the postseason before, too, as he had a huge 2011 World Series.
BThe Red Sox offense as a whole. Aside from the big inning in Game 2 that culminated with David Ortiz's dramatic grand slam, the Red Sox's bats have been pretty quiet. They didn't break through in a big way in Game 5, but it was a positive step forward with four runs on 10 hits, including three doubles and a homer. The inclusion of exciting rookie Xander Bogaerts seems to provide a spark early on.
CJon Lester wasn't real sharp. He could only get through 5 1/3 innings while giving up seven hits and three walks. He only gave up two earned runs, however, thanks to myriad factors. Like Miguel Cabrera getting thrown out at home to end the first or being bailed out by a double play in the fourth. He gave the Red Sox enough to win, but it definitely wasn't anything to elicit excitement.
DThis is Anibal Sanchez and the D is for his performance at home this postseason. He was outstanding in his one road start (Game 1 in Boston), but in two home starts, he's been knocked around Comerica Park pretty well. The A's touched him up for six runs (five earned) on eight hits in Game 3 of the ALDS. They hit three homers. Thursday night, Sanchez gave up Napoli's prodigious bomb and in all allowed three runs on nine hits in six innings. It wasn't horrible, but he definitely didn't have the same hold over the Red Sox as he did in Game 1.
FThis is a general F for the Tigers offense and the amount of times it shot itself in the foot. In the first inning, they could have had a bases loaded situation, but third-base coach Tom Brookens was waving Miguel Cabrera home before changing his mind and throwing up a stop sign that Cabrera didn't see. And Cabrera was out at home by a country mile. In the fourth, the Tigers had two on, one out and Brayan Pena grounded into a double play. In the sixth, with runners on first and second with one out, Austin Jackson grounded into a double play. In the seventh with two on and no out, Miguel Cabrera grounded into a double play. That's a lot of chances to squander in a game the Tigers ended up losing by run. Hence, it's an F.
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