Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland shuffled his lineup in ALCS Game 5 against the Boston Red Sox, a move that could’ve been seen as a frantic last-ditch effort to save his team from a seldom-winnable 3-1 hole. Which it was, of course. But it did the trick, the Detroit Tigers survived yesterday’s showdown, and they now head into tonight’s ALCS Game 5 with renewed life. Whether that lineup change’s momentum carries over, whether you catch tonight’s game on FOX or watch ALCS Game 5 live online stream, will largely determine whether the Sox or Tigers go home with a 3-2 series lead. The Tigers found life last night; can they keep it up today?
Throughout the ALCS, the Tigers have struggled to find their bats. In what seemed like little change yesterday — moving struggling hitter Austin Jackson down to eighth in the order and moving everyone else up (Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, etc.) — Leyland did just enough shaking up to give the Tigers the confidence to hit the ball and finish the game with a 7-3 victory.
Most intriguing wasn’t the overall team’s response — which was arguably fantastic — but the way Jackson himself responded. By the end of the ninth inning, Jackson had two hits, another walk and two RBIs. He reached base all four times he batted. Leyland’s lineup change worked magic last night, and since he hasn’t changed the lineup for ALCS game 5, Detroit Tigers fans will watch with interest to see how Jackson handles the lineup’s encore.
That bats aren’t only the story for the Tigers, though, as Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz has suffered from his own batting struggles. After flying out to end Game 4, Ortiz saw his batting average through four ALCS games hit an abysmal .067. That’s a figure more appropriate for a breathalyzer test, not a batting average, and certainly not an expected average for someone like Ortiz, who will certainly need to perform better for all those fans watching an ALCS Game 5 live online stream or catching it on FOX.
But while Ortiz hopes for a personal change of pace with his batting, Red Sox manager John Farrell is looking more for an adjustment to his team’s overall fielding. Farrell on Thursday announced his decision to start Xander Bogaerts at third base, benching Will Middlebrooks. With the change-up, Bogaerts will be the youngest player ever to start a postseason game for the Red Sox. He took over that record from none other than Babe Ruth. But no pressure, kid.
There are clearly a lot of moving parts to tonight’s game, which starts at 8:07 Eastern/5:07 Pacific. Both teams have made (or are sticking by) changes to at least one aspect of their lineup, so there’s really no precedent to determine who will respond better. You can watch ALCS Game 5 live online stream to see it all unfold either by clicking the “watch” icon on MLB.com or by going to this website. Now tied 2-2, the series is now a clean slate for both teams, making it a best-of-three series, but it’s also a clean slate in terms of seeing what these new and/or tweaked lineups can actually deliver.