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Red Sox beat Tigers to win 2013 AL pennant: Grades

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

The 2013 ALCS is done, and now it's time for some report cards. (USATSI)
The 2013 ALCS is done, and now it's time for some report cards. (USATSI)

MORE: ALCS Game 6 quick hits

The Red Sox have topped the Tigers in six games in the 2013 ALCS. The Red Sox, obviously, are headed to the World Series to face the Cardinals, while the Tigers are headed home for the winter. Before we move on, though, let's hand out some report cards for this series ...

TeamGradeAnalysis
AThe Red Sox's clutch grand slams, to be exact. In Game 2 it was David Ortiz's eighth-inning grand slam that tied it up, which in turn allowed the Sox to win it in the bottom of the ninth. In Game 6, it was Shane Victorino's unlikely bases-loaded blast in the seventh inning that provided the eventual winning margin. Ortiz and Victorino combined to go a miserable 5-for-46 in the ALCS, but two of those five hits changed everything.
B+This one goes to the starting pitching in this series across the board. Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy got roughed up in Games 2 and 4, respectively, but overall the starters thrived in the ALCS. Bucholz, Peavy, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister combined for a 2.74 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP across 12 starts. That's nice work considering the usual strength of the offenses involved.
B+Mike Napoli. The Sox's first baseman batted .300 for the series and tallied two homers, which made for an ALCS slugging percentage of .600. Most impressive is that he went deep of Verlander, who's been on another level lately.
DPrince Fielder went 4-for-22 with zero RBI in the series, and had some disastrous moments in the field and on the bases. At least Miguel Cabrera had the excuse of being injured.
FThe Tigers' bullpen, to be specific. To be sure, Jim Leyland's handling of the bullpen didn't help matters (bulletin: Drew Smyly is far, far too good to be used like a lefty specialist -- terrible deployment of Smyly in this series), but the performance of Detroit relievers was abysmal in any context. They gave up those two "A-grade" grand slams detailed above and combined to post an ERA of 5.68. That's unacceptable this time of year.
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