Tonight a must win?

Finally an offensive explosion for the Tigers, starting with Austin Jackson moved out of the lead off spot and everyone else getting bumped up.  Torii Hunter led off for the first time since 1999 and helped lead the offensive attack in the 7-3 victory last night to tie up the ALCS at 2-2.

Now this series becomes a best of three with the game tonight in Detroit, Anibal Sanchez against Jon Lester, followed by two more in Boston.  Game 6 features Scherzer against Buchholz and the potential game 7 is Verlander against John Lackey.

But before we head back to Boston, tonight’s game looms large for the Tigers.  Detroit is facing Boston’s best pitcher in Lester and would be in much better shape heading back up 3-2 as opposed to down.

I think the Tigers should keep with the same lineup heading into game 5, even though Austin Jackson had a great game.  Keeping him lower in the lineup takes some of the pressure off of him and will allow him to just relax at the plate. If he continues to get on base, Leyland will be able to use Iglesias to bunt him over if possible and then the heart of the lineup comes up with a runner in scoring position.

Detroit will also need another great performance from Sanchez on the mound.  He doesn’t need to throw another no-hitter like in game 1, but he has to perform better than in game 3 of the ALDS against Oakland.  Against the Red Sox his pitches were sharp and location was spot on, frustrating the Boston hitters all night long.

The pitching performance that the Tigers have put on has been extraordinary and will rarely be seen again in one postseason, kind of like this play here:

If the Tigers are going to win this series it will come down to more than just the pitching.  Scherzer had a great start in game 2, JV in game 3 and the Tigers lost both.  The offense needs to keep hitting if this team is going to move on to back-to-back World Series.  If this lineup change continues to reap benefits then keep it going all through the rest of the playoffs, if the team goes stagnate again Leyland will have to pull another rabbit out of his hat.  We will see if John Farrell is able to create some magic of his own for Boston.

So what do you think Tigers fans, is this a must-win game for Detroit or do you believe in the Mad Max-JV combo heading into games 6 and 7?  Let us know at DetroitSportsBloggers.com or on Facebook and Twitter.

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