By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – On a pitching rotation that includes All-Star Game starter Max Scherzer, ERA champion Anibal Sanchez and 2011 Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander, one can easily be overlooked.
Wednesday, though, Detroit Tigers number four starter Doug Fister gave everyone reason to do a double take.
In six innings of Game 4, Fister allowed surrendered just one run to the Boston Red Sox. He helped his Tigers to a 2-2 tie in the ALCS, and the pitcher know for his ground balls rather than his strikeout ability fanned seven.
“Fister has obviously done an extremely good job for us, ever since we made the trade with Seattle,” Leyland said the day before Fister’s dominant performance. “He’s a little bit different type of guy than what they’ve seen the first three games … He’s more of a contact, mishit‑it type pitcher, with an excellent curveball and change‑up, good movement. He’s one of those guys that you don’t expect the strikeouts, you expect him to put the ball in play a little more, and hopefully mishit the ball a little bit more.”
Allowing eight hits may have been unnerving, but Fister did not seem to show it. His curveball in particular helped him pick apart Boston.
“I felt good with it tonight, and that was part of the game plan, was to throw it early, and it worked for me,” Fister said. “I had pretty good control over it, being able to change speeds with it, and I think being able to throw that for strikes and for balls outside of the strike zone to possibly get some swings and misses on it was definitely a benefit for me.
“It’s one of the things that kept them off balance,” Fister added, “and [I] really tried to mix things up.”
Even though his great start probably will not keep him in the limelight for long, since his fellow starters have also pitched so well, Fister has no problem being the more anonymous one of the bunch. He wants to do his best, of course, but he does not try to compete with Scherzer, Sanchez and Verlander.
“I don’t look at it that way,” Fister said. “I’m one of 25, going out there, going to be pitching tonight with teammates, and we’re going to try to put up zeroes just like they are. Never want an opposing team to score one run.”
In his only other postseason start so far, Fister allowed three runs in six innings in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Oakland A’s. He came away with what is known as a quality start – giving up three or fewer runs in six or more innings – but his performance Wednesday far surpassed that earlier outing.
The pitching in the ALCS so far has been spectacular on both sides, and Fister lived up to that standard. As has been said many times throughout this series, the caliber of baseball is something that can be appreciated by Tigers fans, Red Sox fans and overall baseball enthusiasts alike.
“That makes for a great series no matter what the turnout comes out,” Fister said. “We’re one of the best teams in the American League right now. I think that’s showing right now. We want it to be a good contest. It’s mentally and physically draining every night, but that’s what good baseball is all about.”