Friday, October 25th, 2013
Up until this past loss, the Red Sox had not lost a postseason game the day before an off-day. They always had a game the next day…and they won it each time. It proved tremendously freeing psychologically for this fan, being able to prolong the enjoyment of victory through the off-day (there is, at most, one more off-day this season after this one, weather notwithstanding). Today, I don’t have the luxury of hoping to bounce right back from a loss, and have to wallow in it a little while we wait for tomorrow. The nice thing is that I’m sure the 2013 Red Sox are not dispirited at all. They have proven too resilient too long for me to believe that. I am still of the belief that they are the better team, but not completely confident that they will win the series.
Here are some other things the Red Sox have not had to deal with this postseason that they may well have to before it’s all said and done (I’d like to say again I don’t believe in jinxes):
1) They have not lost 2 games in a row.
2) They have not been defeated by more than 4 runs (and the three other losses were by 1, 1, and 2 respectively…they’ve been realistically in all but one game).
3) Only one starter has lasted longer than 7 innings against them (Verlander went 8), and only two others have made it to 7 (Price, who sucked, and Scherzer, who didn’t).
4) They have never trailed a series after game 2.
5) They have not played an elimination game.
I am not confident in them winning both games 3 and 4, but I am confident in them winning game 3 OR 4. Before the series, I predicted Sox in 5 (I just don’t think the Cards are as good as Detroit). While that’s still possible, 6 seems a lot more reasonable now. We’ll see if they can win the 3-game set in St. Louis. Defeat and gloom may still be the ultimate fate of this series, but the 2013 Sox should certainly make it an interesting series, and we’ll see if they have to face rougher seas than they have thus far in this bout with the NL Champs.
Thursday, October 24th, 2013
Sox can only win three more games before they tell them to stop. A few more like yesterday would do just fine. Screw tension, I want solid, pressure-free wins…especially given the news that Peavy is throwing Games 3/7 and Buchholz Game 4.
But today is Game 2. That would be young phenom Michael Wacha vs. old horse John Lackey. Just gotta go .500 for 6 games. But a better winning percentage than that in fewer games would be dandy. Both of Boston’s last two World Series were sweeps. I don’t hold out much hope for that, but the games will tell all. Hold serve at home. Comment away.
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
The Cards went to the World Series in ’04, ’06, ’11, and ’13 (and barely missed in ’12 when the Giants came back from 3-1) and have played in the NLCS 8 times (8/13!) post-2000. The Sox went in ’04, ’07, and ’13 (and had ALCS Game 7 losses in ’03 and ’08) and have played in the ALCS 5 times. The Cards have won it all twice. The Sox have won it all twice. Whoever wins this Series takes the lead in 21st-century titles (the Cards, Giants, and Sox are all tied right now). The one time the Cardinals lost the Series in the 21st century up to now…it was to the Red Sox. We’ve made up for 1946; now it’s your turn, 1967.
Adam Wainwright and Jon Lester are the hurlers. I’m feeling good about this series, but the Cards are a tough team. I think the rotations and bullpens of each team left standing are comparable, but I think the Sox are the better offensive team, and that’s going to be the difference in this one, IMO.
At any rate, four wins to glory for someone, four losses to substantially less glory for someone else. Comment away!
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013
There have been challenging teams that stood in the Red Sox’ way in past Octobers, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite as fearsome a rotation in the Red Sox’ playoff path and maybe not as good an overall team as the 2013 Detroit Tigers. Combine that with a fairly potent offense (let’s face it, the Sox were lucky Miggy was not 100%) and it seemed like a recipe for trouble.
It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure. The offense hit .202 across the ALCS. I don’t think it was just that the Detroit pitchers were good (although that was most of it); I think the Sox hitters were not at their best their entire series. The margins of victory in the Red Sox wins were 1, 1, 1, and 3.
Number of innings (and pitches) thrown by Tigers starter in each game: 6, 7, 8, 6, 6, 6.1. (116, 108, 120, 98, 108, 110)
Number of runs (earned or not) allowed by Tigers starters in each game: 0, 1, 1, 1, 4, 3*. * = Bullpen allowed 2 of Scherzer’s runs to score on Victorino’s slam in Game 6.
So how did the Red Sox win?
In Games 2 and 6, the wins came because the Sox managed to get the starter (Scherzer in both cases) out of the game (late, but not too late) and then hit the bullpen hard (Papi slam, Salty walkoff, Victorino slam).
In Game 3, the win came because the Sox countered an excellent starting performance (Verlander) with their own starter’s superb performance (Lackey).
In Game 5, the win came because the Sox managed just enough runs off the starter.
In all 4 of those cases (and in both losses, too), the constant was the bullpen. Whether they were needed for 2 innings or 5, the bullpen was shutdown.
Number of runs allowed by Sox bullpen in each game: 0, 0, 0, 0*, 1, 0*. * = Workman allowed a Peavy run in Game 4, Morales allowed Buchholz’s 2 runs to score in Game 6.
Uehara, Breslow, and Tazawa (probably in that order, despite Tazawa’s success with Cabrera) were a supremely stable bridge. Workman did his job well. Only Morales was a failure, and hopefully he does not make the WS roster (Britton or even Thornton couldn’t possibly be worse). I think the bullpen won the Sox that series, and Uehara getting the ALCS MVP with six shutout innings represents that well.
Sunday, October 20th, 2013
Saturday, October 19th, 2013
A win puts the Sox in the big dance with the Cardinals, who clinched last night.
Scherzer smashed the Sox last time to the tune of 13 strikeouts and 1 run in 7 before Papi’s singular significant (but oh boy, was it) contributon thus far in this ALCS undid all of Max’s good work. In Game 2, Buchholz was fine before he suddenly wasn’t and the Sox were in a hole they barely managed to climb out of (seriously, they were about to be down 2-0 and staring at Verlander, which they will be for Game 7 if they lose today). Clay has a chance today at redemption for two average to poor playoff outings thus far (the 3-run shot to Longoria is the other stain on his October resume).
The Sox’ bats have come to life in the last two games (if those 12 hits are bunched differently in Game 4, this series could be over). Hope it stays that way. And may we brim with the emotion and enthusiasm of Koji Uehara when this game ends! Comment away.
Friday, October 18th, 2013
Thursday, October 17th, 2013
The winner of this contest won’t win the series, but they’ll have a distinct advantage, that’s for sure. Will it be Anibal Sanchez or Jon Lester or one of their assorted supporting cast that tips this game and this series heavily in one direction? Game 6 is on Saturday afternoon, and someone will be in position to win the series then. Go Sox. Comment away.
Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Only one starter (Buchholz) has really spit the bit this series. Everyone else has given up 0 runs or 1. Today will probably see a bit of a change there with Doug Fister and Jake Peavy climbing the hill. Fister threw 7 shutout innings in a 3-0 Detroit victory at Fenway in September where Lackey was the hard-luck loser (the one game the Tigers won in that series), and was the beneficiary of approximately 4,000 DP balls that day (fine, 3). The Sox have been held down so long, though, in this series, by incredible starting pitching, that I feel like they’re due for a breakout against slightly-less-awesome starting pitching (the Sox are lucky to be up 2-1 in the series given their cold bats/Detroit’s hot starters, thanks to the work of the pen and John Lackey). Hopefully Peavy can continue to rework his playoff postseason reputation/stats and throw another nice little game in the visitor’s park, but I’d bet on more than a run being scored on both starters. Are Bres/Taz/Koji all available for the same number of outs as yesterday? Will they be relevant or will this game be very different in tone?
The Red Sox have scored in a grand total of 4 innings in this series’ 27 (and only more than one run once). The Tigers have scored in 3 (again, one multi-run inning). The Red Sox have four run-scoring events in the series (Pedey RBI double, Ortiz slam, Salty walkoff single, Napoli homer)…the Tigers have five (Peralta single, Avila single, Cabrera homer, Martinez double, Avila homer).
Detroit’s starters have allowed 2 runs in 21 innings to go with 6 hits, 9 walks, and 35 strikeouts (!). I repeat: Boston is leading this series 2 games to 1.
Detroit pen: 5 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 8 K, 5 R (includes Procello’s 0 outs in the 9th inning of Game 2, all the runs were in Game 2).
Boston pen: 8 1/3 IP, 5 H, 6 BB, 7 K, 0 R (4 of the walks belong to Breslow, 2 in each appearance).
Tazawa’s strikeout of best-hitter-in-the-game Cabrera with 1 out and runners at the corners was the play of yesterday’s game (honorable mentions: Lackey’s strikeout of Infante with 1 out and Peralta at 3rd, and Napoli’s homer).
Will it be a 2-2 tie or will the Sox grab a strong 3-1 grip on the series? All I know is, they can win it in Detroit, but the worst-case scenario is Game 6 at Fenway. And that is nice. Comment away.
Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
Verlander is not invincible, and is probably the 3rd-best starter on Detroit right now, but he is a potent weapon and usually doesn’t budge in the postseason until the World Series, where he has let down significantly at times. But we’re in the ALCS…and we’re counting on a John Lackey who has stumbled mightily in his last few starts.
A win for the Red Sox would guarantee that, at worst, the series go back to Fenway. If the Tigers run the table in Detroit, Boston’s dream dies. This is a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig game. Comment away.
Monday, October 14th, 2013
A look back into Sox legend along with the increase in Boston’s probability of winning the game as a result of the play. Ortiz’s grand slam tonight ranks second, and he’s also ranked fourth, sixth and ninth. #therealmisteroctober
• Dave Henderson’s game-tying, two-run home run with two outs in the ninth, Game 5, 1986 ALCS: 73 percent.
• David Ortiz’s game-tying grand slam with two outs in the eighth, Game 2, 2013 ALCS: 45 percent.
• Bernie Carbo’s game-tying, three-run home run with two outs in the eighth, Game 6, 1975 World Series: 44 percent.
• David Ortiz’s series-winning, 10th-inning home run, Game 3, 2004 ALDS: 43 percent.
• J.D. Drew’s game-winning, ninth-inning hit to cap a rally from 7-0 down in the seventh inning, Game 5, 2008 ALCS: 38 percent.
• David Ortiz’s game-winning, 14th-inning hit, Game 5, 2004 ALCS: 38 percent.
• Carlton Fisk’s game-winning, 12th-inning home run, Game 6, 1975 World Series: 36 percent.
• Mark Bellhorn’s go-ahead, two-run home run in the eighth inning, Game 1, 2004 World Series: 31 percent.
• David Ortiz’s game-winning, 12th-inning home run, Game 4, 2004 ALCS: 27 percent.
• J.D. Drew’s first-inning grand slam, Game 6, 2007 ALCS: 26 percent.
• Bill Mueller’s game-tying hit, scoring Dave Roberts in the bottom of the ninth off Mariano Rivera, Game 4, 2004 ALCS: 25 percent.
editor’s note: I am a thief and I stole this from Paul SF to post here. He is listed as the author, but I totally burgled his writing from elsewhere — ag
Sunday, October 13th, 2013
One of the great things about this Red Sox team is they don’t seem to carry over any negativity from a loss into their next game. And after being 1-hit and losing 1-0, they’re going to need all the positivity they can get when Cy Young winner Scherzer (sure, it’s not official yet, but let’s be real here) takes on Buchholz at the Fens. The Sox need this game for any realistic shot in this series. Let’s see if they can get it. Comment away.
Saturday, October 12th, 2013
All things considered, these are the two best teams in the AL this year, and the matchup is well-earned. Anibal Sanchez (who has the lowest season ERA of any AL starter who qualified, soundly beating Scherzer and Verlander, SCARY) takes on Jon Lester in the first face-off at Fenway Park. I feel like the Sox are a slightly better team (the Sox lineup and bullpen are certainly stronger than Detroit’s, particularly with injured Miggy, while the Sox rotation is almost certainly weaker than DET’s), but it’s the playoffs, nothing will come easy, and whoever wins will earn it once again. I’m just glad it’s a 7-game series so the best team is more likely to win: let’s find out who that really is. Comment away.
Thursday, October 10th, 2013
Who do you want to face the Sox? SFs? YFs? I don’t think I can honestly say I prefer one team over the other. The Tigers’ starters are scary (Scherzer/Verlander/Sanchez are all doing really well this year), but Oakland’s are no pushover. What we want doesn’t matter much in the end; what matters is what happens when Verlander takes on Gray, a rematch of the pitching duel in Game 2 that ended with an Oakland walkoff 1-0 win. Time for some hearts to break. The winner comes to Fenway on Saturday. Comment.
Wednesday, October 9th, 2013
With an honorable mention to the Orioles for their part in the 2011 debacle (and pretty much owning the Red Sox since), it’s safe to say that the Yankees and Rays have dealt the worst blows to the Red Sox from 2008-2012 (2008′s ALCS loss to the Rays in 7 games and 2011′s ultra-squander to the Rays, completed when the Yankees folded late against the Rays in Game 162, being the biggest examples).
This year the Red Sox went 13-6 against the Yankees in the regular season and played a significant part in showing the Yankees the door in September…the Yankees got as close as 1 game back of the second wild card after the games of 9/12, but were 3 back after that weekend’s series at Fenway and never got closer than 2.5 after that. They went 1-6 against the Red Sox in September.
The Red Sox went 15-8 against the Rays this season, including postseason play (12-7 in the reggalah), and didn’t just show them the door, but grabbed them by the collar and kicked them through it. And all this after the Rays’ heroic efforts in what turned out to be three subsequent elimination games leading to an ALDS match with the AL’s best team (by record and run differential).
Honestly, I’d love to win it all, but coming in the wake of 2011/2012 and as redemption for those seasons and the painful loss in 2008…this has already been a supreme season. I look forward to seeing where it goes, but today I am utterly content. There’s a game each of the next three days to enjoy from our lofty perch (PIT-STL, DET-OAK, NLCS 1) while we wait for the show to continue on Saturday; Lester gets ALCS Game 1 instead of an elimination game this Thursday, while our eventual ALCS opponent will hopefuly wear themselves out on Thursday, and all is right with the world.