Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/18/13
When the Red Sox signed Mike Napoli they envisioned the addition of a middle-of-the-order power hitter who could offer a threat behind David Ortiz while also possessing the patience and plate discipline to either elevate opposing pitchers’ counts or work a walk. The team viewed him as someone who was capable of doing damage even against top pitchers as evidenced by some of his past postseason heroics. Now the Sox are enjoying a first-hand view of Napoli’s playoff capabilities. Two days after he delivered the game-winning homer in Boston’s 1-0 Game 3 victory the slugger once again made his mark on Game 3 going 3-for-4 with a massive solo homer to straightaway center field — well over the 420-foot sign and into the Comerica Park hedges that look not unlike his beard — a double and two runs scored. His mammoth homer in the top of the second inning jumpstarted a three-run Red Sox uprising — just the second time in the ALCS that the Sox had rallied for multiple runs in a single frame — against Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez en route to an eventual 4-3 victory. The fact that Napoli led his band of beardy brothers to a four-run production against Sanchez represented something of a breakthrough for an offense that had plated just three runs against Tigers starters in the first four games of the series. Interestingly while the Sox felt that their game plan to drive up the pitch count of Sanchez in Game 1 of the ALCS — where the right-hander issued six walks in his six no-hit innings — was a good building block for Game 5 the team didn’t negotiate a single walk from him in Game 5. Instead they amassed nine hits in the starter’s six innings bunching enough of them together to give the Sox a four-run cushion that permitted the team to withstand single runs from the Tigers in the fifth sixth and seventh innings. With the win the Red Sox are one victory from securing a spot in the World Series as the ALCS shifts back to Fenway Park on Saturday for Game 6 with Clay Buchholz slated to take on Max Scherzer.
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