Big League Stew

ALCS Game 3: Mike Napoli’s solo homer powers Red Sox to 1-0 win over the Tigers

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

Once again, the Boston Red Sox triumphed against the Detroit Tigers because of a big, late-inning home run. Mike Napoli's solo blast in the seventh was the only run in the Red Sox's 1-0 win, which put them up 2-1 in their American League Championship Series with the Tigers. The Tigers got another dominant performance from a staring pitcher, but it was once again negated by late-inning Red Sox homer.

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(Getty Images)

• Napoli's solo home run off Justin Verlander in the seventh inning was the first run of the game for either team, and only Boston's third hit in the game at the time. Oddly enough: It was Napoli's second homer against Verlander, the other coming in their very first meeting in 2006.

• He wasn't getting the Justin Verlander-esque hype coming into the game, but John Lackey was stellar for the Red Sox. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing four hits, no runs and striking out eight.

• Closer Koji Uehara earned a four-out save for the Red Sox.

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(USA Today)

• Verlander was great too. Good enough to win, certainly, had he got a little bit of run support. He pitched eight inning, striking out 10, allowing four hits and only that one run. At one point, he struck out six consecutive batters, which is a postseason record. Yet he still took the loss.

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(USA Today)

The Tigers offense wasted another strong outing from Verlander. Four Tigers hitters left runners in scoring position with two outs — Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Omar Infante and Andy Dirks. If just one of them got a hit, we'd be talking about a different ball game.

This was the fourth time in the last six Verlander starts this season the Detroit offense failed to score a run.

One particularly head-hanging inning: After Torii Hunter singled in the bottom of the eighth to put runners at first and third with one out, Miguel Cabrera came to the plate with a chance to tie the game. Or, even better, put the Tigers ahead. Junichi Tazawa was pitching for the Red Sox, and he sat down Cabrera on four pitches, all fastballs, including a swinging strike three that crossed the outside corner of the plate at 94 mph.

Then Prince Fielder struck out on three straight pitches against Red Sox closer Koji Uehara. Threat extinguished.

After a Victor Martinez lead-off single in the ninth inning that gave the Comerica crowd a bit of hope, Jhonny Peralta grounded into a double play.

• Justin Verlander had 34 1/3 consecutive scoreless streak broken by up Napoli's homer in the seventh inning. Of those, 21 1/3 innings were in the postseason. Verlander had 53 strikeouts during that span.

• When Jonny Gomes singled in the fifth inning off Verlander, it was the first hit a Tigers starter had given up in innings 1-5 in the team's previous four games.

• The Red Sox have just 12 hits through three games in this series, but own a 2-1 lead.

• Every game in this series has been decided by one run. It's the third 1-0 game of the LCS round. There were a total of three from 2002-2012.

• The Red Sox's late-inning homers > The Tigers' dominant starting pitching.

• Lackey's exit. He had thrown 97 pitches and was visibly upset when he was pulled in the seventh inning. Check out this GIF. "C'mon, man. You gotta be [expletive] me?"

• The power outage at Comerica Park that caused a 17-minute delay in the second inning. It's ripe for "Detroit is bankrupt" jokes.

Will Wednesday bring a commanding 3-1 series lead for the Red Sox, or will it see the Tiger pull the series even at 2-2? Game 4 is at 8:07 p.m. ET with Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.07 ERA) pitching for the Red Sox against Doug Fister (14-9, 3.69 ERA) for the Tigers.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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