Red Sox-Tigers ALCS Game 3 Grades: Boston pitchers come up aces

Quick hits: Napoli's homer leads Red Sox to victory

It's time once again for grades, where we subjectively grade five things, A-F -- give or take a plus or minus, of course. 

This time we're looking at Game 3 of the ALCS, which the Red Sox won, 1-0, taking a 2-1 game lead in the best-of-seven series.

A The entire Red Sox pitching staff gets the gold star for this one. In facing off against Justin Verlander, Boston pretty much needed its pitchers to be perfect in order to win, and they were, in terms of the scoreboard. John Lackey was masterful, going 6 2/3 shutout innings and striking out eight while only allowing four hits. He didn't walk anyone, either. Relievers Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara closed things down. Breslow got in trouble, but Tazawa struck out Miguel Cabrera with runners at the corners and then Uehara did the same to Prince Fielder to end the threat in the eighth.
B+ Rough grade? Sure, but I'm guessing Verlander wants that pitch he threw to Mike Napoli back. In eight innings, Verlander was pretty outstanding himself, starting off with 4 2/3 no-hit innings. He ended with eight innings pitched, striking out 10 and allowing only four hits. But that solo homer by Napoli buried them, so Verlander gets dinged down to a B+.
C- Red Sox offense. They were tasked with facing off against a locked-in Verlander, which is difficult for anyone. And the Napoli bomb was the game-winner, so it brings them up to a C- here, due to the circumstances. Moving forward, though, they need to start getting hits before the fifth inning.
D- After going 0-for-3, Jackson is now hitting .091/.143/.121 with 18 strikeouts this postseason. He's essentially been a vacant spot at the top of the lineup. He avoids an F, however, because Jackson collected a walk with one out in the eighth and got to third base with less than two outs -- with Cabrera and Fielder due up. Jackson could well have scored the tying run in the bottom of the eighth. He did everything in his power to do so. So we'll give him a slight bump. Overall, though, he's been really awful this October.
F The power company! There was a 17-minute delay in the second inning due to the lights going out at Comerica Park. Major League Baseball announced the outage was caused when a local substation went off line temporarily. What, was Homer Simpson asleep at the wheel? D'oh. Power was restored within a few seconds, but the lights in Comerica Park lights take about 15 minutes to warm up. With rain in the forecast for the game, we're lucky that power outage didn't really affect anything.
CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered the last six World Series beginning with the epic 2011 Fall Classic. The former Indiana University... Full Bio

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