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updated: 10/11/2013 9:36 PM

Breaking down the ALCS

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About the Tigers: They are back in the ALCS for the third straight year, but Detroit had its hands full with Oakland in the ALDS and needed a stellar start from Justin Verlander in Game 5 to advance. Anibal Sanchez starts Game 1 at Boston. The Tigers' right-hander is going to get some Cy Young votes after leading the American League with a 2.57 ERA, but Sanchez allowed 6 runs (5 earned) on 8 hits over 413 innings in an ALDS Game 3 loss to the A's. Max Scherzer would have been the Game 1 starter, but the Cy Young favorite pitched 2 innings of relief vs. Oakland in Game 4 Tuesday. Scherzer's expected to start Game 2 vs. the Red Sox. Detroit is hoping Miguel Cabrera's 2-run homer against Oakland in Game 5 is a sign of more heroics to come. Slowed by groin and abdominal injuries, Cabrera's last home run was on Sept. 17. After serving a 50-game PED suspension, Jhonny Peralta returned for the final three games of the regular season and he's been the Tigers' best hitter in the postseason with a .417 batting average (5-for-12), 1 home run and 5 RBI. Leadoff man Austin Jackson was 2-for-20 with 13 strikeouts in the ALDS.

About the Red Sox: They lost 93 games in 2012 before bouncing back with a league-best 97 wins this season. Boston, which has never played Detroit in the playoffs, is back in the ALCS for the first time in five years. The Red Sox beat the Rays in four games to advance out of the ALDS. Jon Lester is scheduled to start Game 1 vs. the Tigers. Jacoby Ellsbury had a huge ALDS, going 9-for-18 with 7 runs scored, 2 RBI and 4 stolen bases. Shane Victorino was 6-for-14 with 3 RBI and was also hit four times by Tampa Bay. Former White Sox starter Jake Peavy was on the mound for Game 4 vs. the Rays and the right-hander allowed 1 run on 5 hits in 523 innings. Peavy is scheduled to start Game 4 vs. Detroit.

Scot Gregor's prediction: Red Sox in seven

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