Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, left, is out after slamming into Boston catcher David Ross in the bottom of the first inning Thursday. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Detroit — A bad decision and a bad pitch was the difference for the Boston Red Sox in taking control — sort of — in the American League Championship Series against the Tigers.
Miguel Cabrera made the bad decision in the second inning and pitcher Anibal Sanchez made the bad pitch that proved to be the difference in a nip-and-tuck game in what is developing into a nip-and-tuck series.
The Red Sox head home up 3-2 after Thursday night’s 4-3 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park. But the Sox are nowhere close to being home free because the Tigers have co aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander ready to send the Tigers to their second straight World Series.
The Tigers are in trouble because they were not as sharp as the Red Sox. That all started in the second inning.
It was the easiest putout of Jonny Gomes’ career. And it was the spark that got the Red Sox going.
When Cabrera blew through third-base coach Tom Brookens’ stop sign on a shallow base hit, Gomes gunned out Cabrera by at least 10 feet at the plate.
It might not have been a defining but it is a play that showed the Red Sox were ready to play some wet ball and the Tigers were simply all wet. During a time when the Tigers should have been trying to strike the first blow the Red Sox were preparing the death blow on the Tigers. The Red Sox scored three runs the next inning after Miggy’s blunder.
Sox not out of woods
The main spark came from Mike Napoli, who so far is Boston’s Most Valuable Player. He hit the big home run off Justin Verlander in Game 3 and he flirted with hitting for the cycle on Thursday. He hit a two-run home run in the second inning and also slammed a single and double.
But here is the tough thing for Boston. The Red Sox are still not out of the woods because Scherzer and maybe Verlander stand in the way. The good news for the Sox is they won both games Scherzer and Verlander pitched. The bad news is they could not hit either.
That gives the Tigers at least a puncher’s chance despite having to win two in a row to go to their second straight World Series.
Now the Red Sox are in charge and the difference in this series can be simple. Boston rallied from a five-run deficit to win Game 2, the Tigers could not rally from a four-run deficit to win Game 5.
The Sox built their lead on Napoli’s home run, a run-scoring double by David Ross and Napoli scored again on a Sanchez wild pitch.
And that little bounce on the wild side might have been the difference in the game.
It was a good bounce back for a Sox team that was no-hit for six innings by Sanchez five days ago. He didn’t have it this night and the beginning of the end began on the Cabrera putout. The play set Twitter ablaze because a number of people wanted to blame Brookens, who initially waved Cabrera in as he rounded the bases between second and third. But by the time Cabrera reached third Brookens held up both hands to stop.
Cabrera didn’t even look. It was a gift for the Red Sox. Cabrera is injured and cannot run. So why try to score? It made no sense.
The Red Sox played smarter, especially on defense. Starting pitcher Jon Lester made a nice scoop shovel pass to first baseman Napoli and the Red Sox converted three double plays to stay a step ahead of the Tigers.
This wasn’t easy for the Red Sox which needed every play in this game. The difference might have been the wild pitch during a game that had a lot of wild moments and interesting twists.