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ALCS: Tigers vs. Red Sox

Season series: Tigers won 4-3.

Detroit Tigers (93-69): Won the A.L. Central by one game over Cleveland, but that slim margin was deceiving. The Tigers beat the A.L. West champion Oakland Athletics in the division series for the second consecutive year behind another Game 5 gem from Justin Verlander in Oakland. After losing Game 3 at home, Detroit rallied from three runs down in Game 4 to extend its season – thanks in large part to starting pitcher Max Scherzer’s clutch relief outing.

Boston Red Sox (97-65): Returned to the postseason for the first time since 2009. The Red Sox finished with the best record in the A.L., earning home-field advantage throughout the postseason. The Red Sox became the second A.L. team in the three-division era to go from worst to first in one season. Then they defeated the wild-card Rays 3-1 in the division series, winning both home games. This is Boston’s first A.L. East title since 2007 and second since 1995.

Watch for: Finally sapped by injuries that affected his legs and midsection, 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera of Detroit had only two extra-base hits in September and four singles in the ALDS before his pivotal homer in Game 5. … Boston led the majors with 853 runs and Detroit was second at 796. There is plenty of thunder in the middle of both lineups, so the spark plugs up top could make the difference. Red Sox leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury went 9 for 18 in the ALDS with four stolen bases and seven runs. Meanwhile, Tigers leadoff man Austin Jackson was 2 for 20 against Oakland with 13 Ks.