In his Game 1 start, Anibal Sanchez -- who starts tonight for the Tigers -- threw six no-hit innings before being removed in Detroit’s 1-0 victory. He was the first pitcher in postseason history to go at least six innings and be pulled with a no-hitter intact.
He’s also the fourth pitcher in MLB postseason history to go at least six innings without allowing a hit. In two of the others, the pitcher went on to complete the no-hitter (Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series and Roy Halladay in the 2010 NLDS). The third instance was in the 1999 ALDS, when Pedro Martinez threw six hitless innings in relief.
How was Sanchez able to dominate Red Sox hitters? By getting them to chase pitches with two strikes.
Red Sox hitters chased 41 percent of pitches in two-strike counts in Game 1, compared to just 17 percent before two strikes. Seven of his 12 strikeouts came on pitches out of the zone.
It wasn’t just Sanchez flustering Boston hitters in Game 1, but the Tigers bullpen did its part as well, allowing one hit in three shutout innings with no walks and five strikeouts.
In the game, Tigers pitchers struck out 17 Red Sox batters, tying the record for most strikeouts by a staff in a nine-inning postseason game.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the most strikeouts for a team’s starters in the first four games of any series in postseason history. In addition, that group's total of one run allowed per nine innings pitched (3 R in 27 IP) is the second-lowest for any starting staff through the first four games of a League Championship Series.
The only staff with a better mark in an LCS was... last year’s Tigers, whose staff allowed two runs in the first 27 1/3 innings pitched.
In the two ALCS, those four Tigers starters have combined for a 5-1 record, with a 0.83 ERA, .146 opponents’ batting average and more than 11 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.