BOSTON -- The Detroit Tigers are looking for a Sunday sweep of this 2013 American League Championship Series rematch with the Boston Red Sox, having won 1-0 on Friday and 6-1 on Saturday behind dominant pitching.
Two all-too-familiar adversaries will be dueling in the finale.
The defending world champion Red Sox will try to muster some offense against Anibal Sanchez, who will make his first start since going on the 15-day disabled list on April 27 with blister problems on his right middle finger. Sanchez left the third inning of a game against Minnesota the day before, having allowed no hits through 2⅔ innings.
His counterpart, Jake Peavy, is looking to shake off some rust as well -- and regain command on his sputtering two-seamer -- in what has been a turbulent May that followed a solid April. In three starts this month, he is 0-1 with a 5.94 ERA, with just nine strikeouts and 11 walks.
For the season, Sanchez is 0-2 with a 3.13 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 23 innings. Peavy has made eight starts and is 1-1 with a 3.94 ERA, striking out 41 batters in 48 innings and allowing eight home runs.
Sanchez, of course, initially came up through the Red Sox system before being shipped off to the Marlins following the 2005 season, as part of the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston in exchange for Hanley Ramirez. On Sept. 6, 2006, Sanchez no-hit the Arizona Diamondbacks in his 13th career start, the only no-no of his career.
Since coming to the Tigers before the 2012 trade deadline, Sanchez has pitched well, going 18-16 with a 3.16 ERA. Last season, he finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting after posting a 14-8 record with a 2.57 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 202 strikeouts in 182 innings.
This will be Sanchez's first matchup against the Red Sox since his two battles with them in the ALCS. In Game 1, Sanchez threw six innings of no-hit ball, striking out 12, to pick up the win in a 1-0 Tigers victory. Game 5 was a different story, as he surrendered nine hits and four runs (three earned), including a two-run homer to Mike Napoli, in a 4-3 loss.
Sanchez's lone regular-season appearance against the Sox came in his second career start with the Marlins. He was roughed up for seven runs on eight hits over 4⅓ innings, including three homers, in an 11-5 Sox win. Among current Red Sox, Shane Victorino has had the most luck, putting up .233/.298/.326 totals with a homer and two RBIs in 43 at bats. Only one other current Sox player, David Ross, has registered more than 10 regular season plate appearances versus Sanchez.
Earlier this week, Boston flipped Peavy and Felix Doubront in the pitching rotation, setting up Peavy for this Sunday night battle (8 p.m. on ESPN). He hopes to do better than his last start against the Tigers, Game 4 of the ALCS, in which he was shelled for seven runs (all earned) in three innings of a 7-3 Tigers victory.
The Tigers know Peavy quite well from his tenure with the Chicago White Sox from 2009 to 2013. In the regular season against the Tigers, Peavy is 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA, allowing 13 homers and striking out 78 in 76⅓ innings.
It's no surprise that Miguel Cabrera has found the most success against Peavy among current Tigers. The reigning AL MVP has put up .289/.347/.511 totals with three home runs and nine RBIs in 45 career at-bats against the veteran right-hander.
The Red Sox have been struggling at the plate, as Xander Bogaerts' fifth-inning solo home run Saturday night broke an 18-inning scoreless streak, the only run for Boston in a 6-1 loss in which they stranded 12 runners.
Following up reigning AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer's three-hit, seven-inning gem on Friday night, Rick Porcello was sharp in eight innings Saturday, scattering six hits and striking out four while surrendering Boston's lone run.