The Boston Red Sox gained a 3-2 lead in the ALCS over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night, with many thanks to Mike Napoli's bat, timely double plays, and strong pitching by Jon Lester, and no thanks to Jose Iglesias. The Tigers might have lost more than the game, though, as catcher Alex Avila was removed in the fourth inning with a left knee sprain.
Eenie, meeny, miny, moe, this Tiger was caught by way more than just a toe:
Tigers third-base coach Tom Brookens threw up a late stop sign for Miguel Cabrera, who had little choice but to continue on home for an easy out that cost Detroit the opportunity to score in the first inning.
Napoli's shot gave the Red Sox a quick 1-0 advantage, which was the start of a three-run inning for Boston.
On the other side of the field, Detroit was aided immensely by Jose Iglesias' defensive wizardry. The shortstop had shifted to the second-base side of the bag while David Ortiz was batting in the third inning, and he sprinted into shallow left field to stab this popup at knee height.
Alex Avila made a beautiful play of his own, blocking home plate and preventing David Ross from scoring. However, he suffered a left knee sprain on the play and was eventually lifted in favor of backup backstop Brayan Pena.
Iglesias again got the opportunity to show off his quick feet and arm in turning this double play against Dustin Pedroia.
Napoli proved to be one of the top offensive performers of the game for the Red Sox. He was so good (3-for-4, a triple shy of the cycle) that he earned a head butt, rather than a beard tug, from first-base coach Arnie Beyeler.
Jon Lester is not Jose Iglesias. The bobbled ball is evidence of that. But he does get the job done; this nifty glove flip was just enough to nab a speedy Iglesias by half a step.
The umpire was out on this play, but Pena didn't quite manage to tag Will Middlebrooks. Pena broke late for third base, and heads-up baserunning allowed Middlebrooks to scamper to third.
The play was ultimately harmless; the Red Sox were unable to drive Middlebrooks in, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth.