After David Ortiz rallied the Red Sox to a dramatic win in game 1 of today's doubleheader, Justin Verlander shut the door on any possibility of a sweep.
Verlander scattered four hits in 7 2/3 innings, ratcheting up his fastball to hit 98 regularly in his last few batters. His last pitch of the game, a ball that very nearly shattered every bone in Jacoby Ellsbury's foot, touched 100 mph.
Josh Beckett was good, but not to that level. He had trouble with control, walking five batters, but managed to keep the Tigers to two runs over 6 IP. The biggest pest was old friend Victor Martinez, who slapped three singles -- one to right, one to left, and one to center -- against his former battery mate.
Verlander was the real story though. He held the Sox 2-7 hitters to a combined 0-for-21. While some Sox hit the ball hard -- Pedroia sent one pitch to the warning track in right field -- it was almost always right at a Tiger defender.
The first game was, of course, a different story, thanks to the dramatic pinch-hit homer by Papi. It was Ortiz's second career at bat off Valverde, and also his second home run (though Valverde retired him in game 2).
Game 1's starters Clay Buchholz and Andrew Oliver dueled to even performances -- 3 runs on 6 IP -- and the middle relievers held strong, including two solid innings from Matt Albers, whose ERA is down to a respectable 3.54. Jed Lowrie and Mike Cameron each registered two hits...and then each were benched for game 2. (Of course, two games in the same day would have immediately sent Lowrie to the 60-day DL.)
Gonzalez, Youkilis, Crawford, and Sutton were held hitless in both games. Rough day at the park.
The Yankees and Rays both won, leaving the Sox a game up on the division, with the Rays a game and a half back.