AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Mike Napoli's big beard didn't get in the way of his big swing in Game 5.
The Boston Red Sox are one win away from their first World Series appearance since 2007.
In a series in which four of the five games have been decided by one run, the Red Sox got their third one-run victory of the series, edging the Detroit Tigers, 4-3.
Difference-Maker: Mike Napoli
Mike Napoli was 3-for-4 with a home run, coming up a triple shy of the cycle.
He’s the first Red Sox player with a single, double and homer in a postseason game since Jason Bay in 2008.
Napoli’s homer was a monstrous one—calculated at 460 feet to straightaway center.
He has four home runs this season of at least 460 feet. No one else in the majors has more than two.
Red Sox in ALCS Game 5 Since 2004
The last player with that long a home run in a postseason game was Prince Fielder for the 2008 Brewers (also 460 feet). The last player with a longer homer was Manny Ramirez, who hit a 479-footer for the Red Sox in 2007.
Napoli is 6-for-12 with four extra-bases hits in his last three games.
All six of the hits have come against pitches in the upper half of the strike zone or above the top of the zone.
In the six games prior to this hot streak, Napoli saw 51 pitches in that area. They resulted in 10 outs, two walks and no hits.
The Bambino’s name is no longer a curse
Babe Ruth found his way onto a couple of items of note from this game.
Red Sox starter Jon Lester earned his fourth career postseason win. That’s the most by a left-handed pitcher in Red Sox history, surpassing Ruth and Bruce Hurst.
Xander Bogaerts had a hit, a walk and a run scored, and started a key double play. He surpassed Ruth as the youngest player to start a postseason game in Red Sox history (age 21).
Key double plays
The Red Sox turned three double plays, including huge rally killers in the sixth and seventh innings.
Baseball Info Solutions, a video-review service for major-league teams and media credited Pedroia with 7 "double plays despite aggressive slide" in the regular season. That was tied for second-most among second basemen in the majors with Brandon Phillips, one behind Mark Ellis.
Over the last 3 seasons, Pedroia has 20 such double-play turns, the most by a second baseman in that span.
Uehara shuts the door again
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara got the final five outs, giving him as many saves of at least five outs in this postseason (one) as he had in the regular season.
It was the first five-out save by a Red Sox pitcher since Jonathan Papelbon got one to close out the 2007 World Series against the Rockies.
Uehara has a 1.13 ERA and four saves this postseason. He has 11 strikeouts and no walks. The postseason record for most strikeouts without a walk is 14 by Kevin Millwood of the 2002 Braves, Mariano Rivera for the 2003 Yankees and David Price for the 2010 Rays.
Elias Sports Bureau: Did you know?
The four one-run games matches the most in a single ALCS series (the LCS expanded to best-of-7 in 1985). In 1997 the Indians and Orioles also played four one-run games in a six-game series
The LCS record for one run games is five by the Mets and Braves in 1999. The postseason record is six by the Athletics and Reds in the 1972 World Series.