“I can’t say there was an issue with the umpiring,” Farrell said. “That’d be taking away from the talent that their pitching staff has.”
When Sanchez followed by striking out Mike Napoli, he matched the record for strikeouts in a postseason inning with four, a mark set by the esteemed and revered Orval Overall of the 1908 Chicago Cubs. But he walked two in the second, and needed 51 pitches to get through those two frames.
“I thought he was a little careful early,” Leyland said.
He had to be, given that he faced Boston’s lineup and Boston lefty Jon Lester, who danced in and out of trouble early on. That, though, is a tough approach against the middle of the Tigers’ lineup, a scary place for any opposing pitcher to roam. With one out in the sixth, Miguel Cabrera walked, and Lester then plunked Prince Fielder with a sinker. The Tigers had a threat. After a fielder’s choice put runners at the corners, Peralta served a 2-2 curveball into center, and Cabrera trotted home with the Tigers’ run.
Now, to make it stand up – no-hitter or not. Sanchez seemed determined to both grant the Red Sox opportunities and shut them down. The sixth featured his fourth, fifth and sixth walks, loading the bases. But Sanchez capped his night by unleashing his 116th pitch, a 1-2 slider in the dirt. Drew couldn’t touch it, and Sanchez performed something of a fist-pumping pirouette as he left the mound, his final act.
“As soon as he told me that my job is done, I said, ‘Yeah,’ ” Sanchez said. “I threw a lot of pitches. I don’t want to rush back just because we have a no-hitter. I think they need to bring in some fresh arms.”
They did that, and by the scantest margin, they didn’t complete the no-hitter. But it didn’t matter, because whatever bizarreness transpired Saturday night at Fenway, this much is undeniable: The Red Sox head to Game 2 still searching for their first run, and the Tigers lead the series.