Sox offense brought to its knees in Game 1

Sox offense brought to its knees in Game 1
October 13, 2013, 12:45 am
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BOSTON -- The best offense in baseball was brought to its knees in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.    

This time, there was no "small ball'' or manufacturing of runs. No two-run inning without the ball leaving the infield, as happened in Game 4 of the Division Series. No late inning comebacks. No hits until the ninth inning.    

No nothin', really.    

About all the Red Sox accomplished in Game 1, in fact, was avoiding the ignominous distinction of becoming the third team in history to be no-hit in the post-season.    

But after they were silenced by Anibal Sanchez and four other relievers, that was cold comfort. Shutout by the quintet and trailing, at home, in the ALCS, the Sox could offer little more than the proverbial hat tip.    

"You definitely give credit where credit's due,'' said Shane Victorino. "You tip your hat to their staff and what they did to hold us down and allowing us to get just one hit.''    

It wasn't as if the Red Sox made loud outs. Most, by contrast, resulted in them trudging back to the dugout, victim of strikeouts -- 17 in total, tying a post-season record for most strikeouts by a team in a post-season game.    

The signs were there early, when Sanchez tied a 105-year-old record by recording four strikeouts -- thanks to a wild pitch -- in the first inning alone.    

Sanchez mixed in three pitches, and threw any when he wanted. Often, he pitched backwards -- that is, throwing breaking balls in fastball counts and vice versa.    

"He had a power fastball, a good changeup and a slider when he needed to go against righthanders,'' said John Farrell.    

"He kept us off-balance all night long,'' said Victorino.    

Boston had some chances. They had runners at first and second with oneout in the first and came away empty-handed. Two more baserunners were stranded in the second. And in the sixth, the Sox worked with three walks to load the bases. But none of it amounted to anything.    

"Two-out base hits were the difference in this one tonight,'' said Farrell.    

"We just couldn't get that hit to score some runs,'' said Pedroia. "We had opportunities. Our at-bats weren't bad. But he has put-away stuff. We just weren't able to get the big hit and get some runs in.''    

Scherzer fanned 12 all by himself, and did so through just six innings. He struck out four in the first, one in the second, one in the third, three in the fourth, one in the fifth and two more in the sixth, his final inning of work.    

When he left, having thrown 116 pitches -- thanks to six walks -- the Sox could be excused for thinking the worst was over. But as they were to find out, it didn't end with Sanchez.    

"Every one of their guys,'' said a member of the Sox, shaking his head in resignation "had dominant stuff.''    

Four Detroit relievers -- Al Alburquerque, Jose Veras, Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit -- faced 10 Red SOx hitters over the final three innings and allowed one hit -- a one-out single by Daniel Nava to snap the no-hit bid -- while recording five more strikeouts.   

"The entire bullpen,'' said a proud Jim Leyland, "did an absolutely tremendous job.''    

It was the first 1-0 post-season game in the history of Fenway Park. If the Sox don't figure out the Tigers' pitching, they themselves will be history soon.