Matt Slocum- APRED SOX- After fending off a late Detroit surge in Game 5, the ALCS headed back to Boston with the Red Sox one win away from heading back to their first World Series in 6 years.
For Game 6, Clay Buchholz was once again facing off against this year's likely Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and each team managed to get a single but nothing else in the first inning. The game was mostly a pitcher's duel through the first four innings for each starter but after getting the first two batters out in the bottom of the fifth, Scherzer gave up a booking wall ball double to Xander Bogaerts. Jacoby Ellsbury then drove Bogaerts home with an RBI single, but the inning ended when the centerfielder was caught trying to steal second.
Boston's 1-0 lead didn't last long, though. Buchholz struggled immediately in the top of the 6th, allowing a leadoff walk to Torii Hunter and a single to Miguel Cabrera. Farrell had Franklin Morales come out of the pen, but Morales walked Prince Fielder to load the bases with nobody out. Former Indian and Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez then belted a 2-RBI single to put Detroit ahead 2-1. By this point, Workman came out of the pen and the Red Sox looked as though they were willing to concede the run to get a double play with nobody out and runners on first and third, but they didn't have to choose. Jhonny Peralta hit a ground ball up the middle- Pedroia cleanly fielded the ball and got the out at first before noticing that Fielder had hesitated on his way home for whatever reason- Fielder was caught in a rundown before getting tagged out by Saltalamacchia. While Peralta was able to advance to second, the runner at third had been erased and the Red Sox were one out away from getting out of a huge jam, which happened when Workman struck out Aviles.
By the bottom of the 6th, Scherzer was starting to show some signs of fatigue as Victorino led off the inning and was hit by a pitch. Then Pedroia drew a walk to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with nobody out. However, Scherzer would get the next three batters out, ending the Red Sox threat in the bottom of the 6th, despite Victorino and Pedroia advancing into scoring position on a wild pitch.
In the 7th inning, Workman got Infante to fly out to start off the inning before allowing a single to Austin Jackson. However, Jackson then was picked off by Workman for the second out of the inning, which was a good thing since Iglesias then got an infield single followed by Torii Hunter laying down a bunch and reaching first on a fielding error by Workman. Junichi Tazawa would then come out of the bullpen and get Miguel Cabrera to ground out.
Scherzer came back on in the bottom of the 7th, allowing a leadoff double to Johnny Gomes. After getting Drew to strike out swinging, Scherzer then walked Bogaerts before Tigers manager Jim Leyland brought in Drew Smyly. Jacoby Ellsbury then reached first on a fielding error by Iglesias to load up the bases and Leyland went to Veras.
That brought up a struggling Shane Victorino, who had gone 2-23 through the duration of the ALCS and 0-2 on the night, including an attempted bunt that he popped out on in the bottom of the 3rd. A flyout past the infield would be enough to bring a run home and tie the game, but Victorino would do one better.
Heading back to the 9th inning of Game 4, Victorino had gone 0-8, but with one swing of the bat, he put Boston back on top and stunned the Tigers. Pedroia struck out swinging and David Ortiz would ground out to end the inning, but the damage had already been done with Boston up 5-2.
Breslow would come on in the top of the 8th to get Fielder, Martinez and Kelly out before Koji Uehara would come on in the 9th and get Avila to strike out and Infante to ground out before allowing a single off the bat of Austin Jackson. Koji would then strike out former teammate Jose Iglesias to end the ballgame and Detroit's season and clinch the American League Championship Series.
Barry Chin- Boston Globe
One year after their worst season in 50 years, Boston wins the American League Pennant. For the second time since 2004 and fourth time since the end of World War II, Boston will play the St Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
Game 1 is scheduled for Wednesday night at 8:07 ET and will be televised on FOX. Jon Lester was named Boston's Game 1 starter and takes to the mound against Adam Wainwright.
Kathy Willens- AP
NFL- After getting out to an early first half lead, the Patriots needed some last minute heroics just to force overtime at the Meadowlands on Sunday. Sunday also marked the not-quite-triumphant return of Rob Gronkowski.
With the game tied at 7-7 late in the first quarter, CB Logan Ryan put the Patriots up thanks to a pick 6 off of Jets QB Geno Smith. The Jets would make it a 14-10 game thanks to a Nick Folk FG with 11:11 remaining in the first half. With just under 8 minutes to go, the Jets ended up punting from their own 29 yard line- a 38 yard return by Edelman gave New England the ball on the Jets 28 yard line and the Patriots were able to punch it in on a 17 yard TD run from Stevan Ridley to take a 21-10 lead heading into halftime.
The second half was dramatically different for New York as Brady was sacked on the very first play from scrimmage in the second half. For the second play, Brady ended up throwing a pick-six to safety Antonio Allen and the Jets pulled to within four points. The Jets would pull ahead on an 8 yard Geno Smith TD run with 4:33 to go in the 3rd to make it a 24-21 game and Nick Folk added three more points to make it a 27-21 game.
The Patriots seemed to regain their composure in the 4th, getting the ball as far as the Jets 21 before settling for a Gostkowski FG to make it a 24-27 Jets lead. After seemingly an entire quarter that consisted primarily of dropped passes and inopportune penalties for both teams, the Patriots. Last week, Brady needed a 1:13 to move the ball downfield with no timeouts. This Sunday, the Patriots had a couple of timeouts and the 2 minute warning when they got the ball back on their own 8 yard line with 2:10 remaining in the game. Brady had a couple of big completions to Edelman and Gronkowski to move them as far as the Jets 26, but a couple of dropped passes brought up 4th and 10 with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game. With 16 seconds to go, the Patriots tied it up at 27-27 on a Gostkowski FG and managed to force OT- although Brady went for the home run ball more than once.
After Brady made a 16 yard completion to Gronkowski for the first play in OT, the Patriots first possession of the OT fizzled at their own 38 and they were forced to punt. Starting out from their own 20, the Jets managed to advance as far as the New England 36. Nick Folk attempted to put the game away for New York with a 56 yard FG attempt that ended up going wide left.
However, the referees threw a flag on Patriots Defensive tackle Chis Jones- a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for 'pushing a teammate into an opposing formation'. This was a newly instituted rule this season, and apparently 7 weeks into the season the officials decided that 5:07 remaining in OT was the first time a penalty was called on this new infraction. The fifteen yard penalty was enough to move Folk closer and his 42 yard attempt was good for the Jets 30-27 win.
While the Patriots had a number of missed opportunities late in the game that could have avoided OT altogether [including converting a whopping one out of 12 3rd down attempts on the day- NANESB!], the most talked about play was Jones' penalty, which appeared to be a fairly routine maneuver that had never been penalized before. So much for that axiom about NFL and NHL referees generally keeping their whistles in the pocket in overtime for all but the most flagrant of penalties. Shame on me for stereotyping, but part of me is wondering which of New Jersey's numerous 'legitimate businessmen belonging to secretive Italian fraternal organization' had big money riding on this [the only flaw in this theory is that it's actually TOO obvious- NANESB!].
New England splits the season series 1-1 with the Jets and next week's game will keep in the AFC East as the Pats host the Miami Dolphins. It's another Sunday afternoon game with a kickoff scheduled for 1:00 PM and the game will be televised on CBS.
OTHER NFL NEWS- And then there was one.
Seven weeks in and the NFL is down to one undefeated team. Despite a late rally from Peyton Manning, the Denver Broncos came up short in Manning's homecoming at Indianapolis as the Colts with successor Andrew Luck quarterbacking won by a 39-33 final from Indianapolis' Lucas Oil stadium on Sunday night.
One does not need to look outside the AFC West for the remaining undefeated NFL team- Sunday's Bronco loss leaves the surprising Kansas City Chiefs as the only undefeated team in the NFL. The Chiefs managed to outlast the struggling Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium by a 17-16 final on Sunday afternoon. The Chiefs will play host to the Cleveland Browns next weekend and travel to Orchard Park, NY to take on the Buffalo Bills the first weekend in November before their bye week.
Chris O'Meara- AP
NHL- The Boston Bruins continued their road trip through Florida over the weekend, taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning for the second time since the October 3rd regular season opener.
The Bruins got out to a 1-0 lead with about 90 seconds left in the first thanks to a David Krejci goal. Despite going 0-4 on the power play, the Bruins would score four more thanks to McQuaid, Kelly, Bergeron and Thornton as Tukka Rask would turn aside all 23 shots he faced, notching his first shutout of the season in Boston's 5-0 win over Tampa Bay.
Unfortunately, very few people in Boston saw this gem live, as it coincided with Game 6 of the ALCS. Interestingly, the 5-2 Bruins will face a similar problem for their next game, when they take on the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night. The puck is scheduled to drop in Buffalo at 8:00 ET- almost the exact same time as the first pitch of the 2013 World Series- and the game will be televised on the NBC Sports network.