Detroit — A lot that was right wasn’t right enough for the Tigers on Thursday night.
They came back against the Red Sox, but not far enough.
They pitched well, but only after pitching badly.
And they never quite got over three plays at the plate
With the minuses outweighing the pluses, the Tigers lost 4-3 to the Red Sox in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, and must win consecutive games at Fenway Park if they are to advance to their second consecutive World Series.
It can be done, of course, just as Miguel Cabrera scoring from second on a single can be done.
But advancing won’t be easy.
Cabrera getting thrown at home in the first inning was one of the three plays the Tigers didn’t quite get over.
Alex Avila leaving with a tendon strain in his left knee two innings after a collision at home in the second was another big play at the plate, as was Anibal Sanchez’s wild pitch in the third that let in Boston’s fourth run, the run that held up as the difference in the game.
As for the Cabrera play, Twitter lit up soon after he was thrown out by left fielder Jonny Gomes, with some blaming Cabrera for not picking up the stop sign and others ripping on third-base coach Tom Brookens for initially waving him on.
The end result was that Cabrera was out by a mile at the plate and the first inning for the Tigers, one in which they had two singles and a walk, ended without a run.
“I try to wait as long as I can (before stopping a runner) in case there’s a bobble or the ball kicks away,” Brookens said. “But I probably held him up too late. He’d already kept coming.
“I was hoping he’d see me and stop, but with Miggy sometimes, when you get him going, it’s hard to stop him. When I tried to stop him, it was too late.”
And as if rubbing salt into the wound of that wasted chance, Mike Napoli led off the second with a bomb of a home run to center — into the ivy above the two hedge rows — giving the Sox a 1-0 lead.
By the time the top of the second inning was over, the Red Sox led 3-0.
What started the additional trouble for the Tigers was Cabrera’s error at third on Gomes’ chopper. After a strikeout, Xander Bogaerts doubled Gomes to third.
David Ross followed with a double, driving in Gomes from third, but not Bogaerts from second.
Jacoby Ellsbury took care of knocking in Bogaerts, though, with an infield single that advanced Ross to third.
When Ellsbury stole second, the Red Sox had their third second-and-third chance of the second inning. This chance didn’t end as productively as the two others, though.
On Shane Victorino’s grounder to second, Ross was thrown out at the plate, but not before a jarring collision with Avila, whose knee injury no doubt occurred on that play.
When Brayan Pena pinch-hit for Avila in the fourth, he hit into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and second, but later had an RBI single.
In their half of the fourth, the Red Sox tacked on an all-important run on a wild pitch.
Between his collision with Ross, a hard foul ball to the mask and the frantic realization that while not being able to locate the ball, a runner — a slow runner at that — was coming down the line from third, it was not a fun night for Avila.
The third could have been worse for the Tigers, however, if Jose Iglesias hadn’t made an outstanding catch of David Ortiz’s bid for a possible leadoff double.
After the third, Sanchez calmed down, blanking the Red Sox the next three innings while the Tigers tried to generate some offense against Jon Lester.
It’s not that they were fooled through the first four innings by anything Lester did. He was far from overpowering. But the Tigers still didn’t break through until the fifth.
With his fourth hit since moving to the eighth spot in the lineup, Jackson led off with a single, and when Lester didn’t cleanly pick up a bunt by Iglesias, it looked a first-and-second chance might be in the works.
But, Lester shoveled the ball in the nick of time to get Iglesias at first. Jackson took second on the play, and scored on Cabrera’s two-out single.
Lester left in the sixth after making matters worse for himself by allowing a one-out single to Omar Infante after a leadoff walk to Victor Martinez.
At that point, the Sox brought in right-hander Junichi Tazawa, even though the switch-hitting Pena hit right-handers better (.325) than he did lefties (.264) this season.
Pena singled in Martinez, to cut the lead to two, but the inning ended on Jackson’s double-play grounder to third.
The Tigers scored their third run in the seventh when Cabrera hit into a double play.