DETROIT -- So, this is what it looks like when Mad Max Scherzer shows up in Fenway and the Tigers' bullpen doesn't give up a grand slam.
Tigers 1, Red Sox 0.
Twice last October, Scherzer pitched gems against the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series. Seven innings, two hits and 13 strikeouts in Game 2, three hits and only one run allowed through the first six innings of Game 6. David Ortiz shocked the Tigers with a grand slam off Joaquin Benoit in Game 2; Shane Victorino sent the Sox to the World Series with a grand slam off Jose Veras in Game 6.
This time, Scherzer took a two-hit shutout into the seventh before giving up an opposite-field, bloop single to Mike Carp to open the inning. That ended his night, but this time the Tigers bullpen made a one-run lead stand up, the impotent Sox offense unable to exploit great scoring chances in back-to-back innings, the first time against Mad Max himself.
Sixth inning, David Ross singles, and Dustin Pedroia walks with no outs. Manager John Farrell eschews the bunt, knowing that if Grady Sizemore lays one down, the Tigers will walk Ortiz. Sizemore scorches one, but right at second baseman Ian Kinsler, who starts a double play. Ortiz is walked, anyway, and Scherzer strikes out Mike Napoli on a devastating changeup that freezes the Sox slugger.
Seventh inning, Carp bloops his hit in front of left fielder Rajai Davis, and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus goes to his bullpen. Evan Reed's first act is to balk. His second is to hit Xander Bogaerts in the left hand with a 96 mph fastball. First and second, no out, Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate. Farrell eschews the bunt, which may signal his lack of confidence in JBJ's ability to get the bunt down, especially against a 98 mph fastball.
Bradley strikes out, and pinch hitter A.J. Pierzynski grounds into a double play. The Sox go down meekly in the eighth against Joba Chamberlain and in the ninth against Joe Nathan, the third time they have been shut out this season.
The loser? Jon Lester, who gave up a run in the first when third baseman Will Middlebrooks couldn't hold onto Kinsler's line drive, the ball rolling a few feet away and scored an infield hit. Lester walked Miguel Cabrera, struck out Victor Martinez for the second out of the inning, but Torii Hunter lined a single to center to drive in the game's only run.
This time, it was Hunter, who cartwheeled into the Sox bullpen last October on Ortiz's slam, who sent the Sox head over heels. The Tigers improved their record to an AL-best 25-12; the Sox dropped to 20-21.