Detroit’s reshuffled lineup erupted for five runs in the second inning on Wednesday en route to a 7-3 victory over Boston that knotted baseball’s American League Championship Series.
After the Tigers’ potent offence combined for just six runs over the first three games of the best-of-seven series, manager Jim Leyland reshuffled his batting lineup and saw the move pay off, with the Tigers levelling the set at two games apiece.
“I didn’t know what else to do,” Leyland said of the shake-up, which was welcomed by Torii Hunter.
Hunter replaced struggling Austin Jackson in the leadoff spot and contributed a two-run double.
Jackson, who had been batting .091 in the playoffs until Wednesday, was demoted to eighth in the batting order and went 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs-batted-in and a run scored.
“I think it just helped me relax,” Jackson said of the move. “I think that was the goal, and I just wanted to go up and be patient and get a pitch to hit.”
Slugger Miguel Cabrera, batting second instead of third, also had two hits, drove in two runs and stole a base for the reigning American League champions, who host game five on Thursday.
The winners of the series will take on the National League champions in Major League Baseball’s World Series.
St. Louis lead Los Angeles 3-2 in the NL Championship Series after the Dodgers clawed back a game on Wednesday.
Adrian Gonzalez clubbed two homers and pitcher Zack Greinke was effective through seven innings as the Dodgers won 6-4.
Gonzalez’s 428-foot blast in the third inning was the first home run of the National League Championship Series for the Dodgers.
The playoff now shifts to St Louis for game six on Friday. The Cardinals need to win one of the next two to reach their second World Series in three years.
The Dodgers played like a desperate team on Wednesday, busting out of their hitting slump by belting four home runs in game five. Heading into Wednesday’s game they were batting just .223 as a team.
Carl Crawford and AJ Ellis also hit homers for the Dodgers, who finished 11 games ahead of Arizona to win the NL West Division this year.
Greinke appeared to be in for a short outing as he loaded the bases in the first inning in front of a crowd of 53,183 at Dodger Stadium.
But the 29-year-old Greinke worked through it and eventually got Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina to hit into a double play to end the inning, stranding the three baserunners.
Greinke allowed two runs on six hits and struck out four in seven innings. He also chipped in at the plate with an RBI single in the second inning. It was one of two runs the Dodgers got in that inning to open the scoring in the contest.
The Dodgers are trying to become just the second team in NLCS history to rally from an 0-2 series deficit to win. The Cardinals did it in 1985 against Los Angeles.