Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer will start Game 6 on Saturday in Boston. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Detroit — Through the first four games of the American League Championship Series, neither team could say it had a decided advantage, considering the tally is 2-2.
With the series reduced to the best-of-three, however, there is an advantage — for both teams.
The Red Sox get Games 6 and, if necessary, 7 at home.
The Tigers have their three best starting pitchers lined up — Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
So, with little margin for error, Tigers manager Jim Leyland knows the momentum heading into Game 6 in Boston will go a long way in determining which team reaches the World Series.
The winner of Game 5, in fact, has won the series more than 60 percent of the time.
“It’s important for both teams, probably a little bit more important for us than them, but it’s not the end of the world,” Leyland said before Thursday’s game. “It doesn’t mean you’ve won anything if you win (Game 5). It’s probably more important for us because if we win this one, then we’d have to get a split in Boston. If we don’t, we’d have to win two in their park. They’re pretty good there.”
Scherzer, the Game 6 starter, sees the slim difference between the teams despite flirting with a no-hitter in Game 2 before the Tigers lost in the ninth inning on a walk-off single.
“It’s just how things go this time of year,” he said. “This is the postseason; this is what happens when the two best teams face each other. You’re going to face a battle, the series is going to be tied. It is.
“It’s a three-game series now. It comes down to who executes the most, who gets the big hit with two outs, who comes up with big defensive plays.”
Both teams are laden with veterans, but they don’t plan to change their approach, no matter what the rest of the series brings.
Leyland made one of the biggest shakeups of the series, moving Austin Jackson from the leadoff spot to eighth before Game 4, but it’s just one example of the outside-the-box thinking needed to win in a tight series.
“We need to win some games — that’s all that matters,” said Miguel Cabrera, who had two RBI singles Wednesday. “It doesn’t matter how people start in the lineup; it’s more important to go out there and try to do our job. I think everybody does a great job here.”