The good, bad and the ugly from a tough, tough loss last night. My dreams of a perfect 12-0 Red Sox winning streak in the World Series have been shattered.
– David Ortiz is in complete postseason beast mode right now. That’s two games and two home runs, and another that Carlos Beltran robbed in game one. The fact that he ‘only’ hit a single in the eighth inning had to be a huge relief for Cardinals fans. Also, add another iconic postseason home run to the Ortiz highlight reel.
– How crazy would you have seemed before the season if you predicted that John Lackey would be walking off the mound of a World Series game in Fenway to a standing ovation? We have to remember to look back and appreciate how hard he’s worked to get back to this level. He’s also gone from Boston pariah to postseason clutch performer in the blink of an eye. Lackey has really been an integral part of the rotation this year, an amazing turnaround after missing all of 2012.
– Xander Bogaerts remains a shining ball of awesome wrapped in an attractive, toolsy package. I find myself looking forward to his at bats more than anyone on the team other than Ortiz. He struck out twice on changeups, but it’s amazing to see how advanced his approach has been after being more of a hacker in his early years in the Red Sox system.
Oh, and this is a pretty decent list to be on:
Youngest AL players with World Series RBI – 1. Mickey Mantle, 2. Xander Bogaerts, 3. Babe Ruth
— Jeremy Lundblad (@JLundbladESPN) October 24, 2013
– John Farrell’s over-reliance on Jonny Gomes’ magical intangible powers finally bit the Red Sox. Gomes has done little at the plate so far in two games, and his defense has been a bit suspect as well. When a manager plays a hunch over an obvious platoon advantage and it works, he looks great. When he sticks with it despite obvious opportunities to make a change it becomes maddening.
I thought he should have pinch hit Daniel Nava for Gomes to lead off the ninth inning of game two in the ALCS. In that situation, at least I could see the arguments on both sides. Nava had the advantage as a lefthanded hitter against Rick Porcello, but Gomes has more power and could have ended the game with one swing. Farrell stayed with Gomes, and the decision paid off.
In last night’s game, the decision to leave Gomes in to face Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth inning made zero sense. Trailing by two runs, the Sox had to get someone on base to bring the tying run to the plate. Nava has the second highest on base percentage on the team, and hit .322 on the season against right handed pitchers. He’s the guy on the team most likely to get on base in that situation, and that’s what the Red Sox needed right then.
Gomes is a better baserunner than Nava, but Quintin Berry is on the bench for just those situations. I tried to give Farrell the benefit of the doubt by wondering if Nava was hurt, but two batters later there he was pinch-hitting for Stephen Drew. If Nava isn’t starting in game three, I might toss my remote against the wall.
– Speaking of Stephen Drew, did he fall into the Springfield Mystery Spot without anyone noticing? He’s been absolutely atrocious offensively, a fact I’m sure gets tons attention on Boston talk radio. I guess he’s in there for his defense at this point, but I’m wondering if we see Bogaerts at shortstop and Will Middlebrooks at third in game three.
– I was waiting for the Michael Wacha draft meme to pop up, and Joe Buck and Tim McCarver didn’t disappoint. “Boy, can you believe major league teams thought 18 other players were better than this guy?” Chuckle, chuckle, other baseball teams sure are dumb and the Cardinals are smart.
I spend way, way too many hours following baseball prospects, and this narrative ignores so many factors it drives me crazy. 12 of those 18 players drafted before Wacha in 2012 were high school players. Comparing a high school senior to a college junior is like comparing apples to screwdrivers.
The top two players taken in that draft, Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, both tore up two minor league levels at an age when Wacha was playing as a freshman at Texas A&M. It’s possible that Wacha has a better major league career than anyone else from that 2012 class, but my money is on the field.
The scouting report Ken Rosenthal mentioned still exists. Wacha doesn’t really have a third pitch, so the fastball and changeup have to be devastating for him to succeed. So far they have been. But the Red Sox did have noticeably better at bats the more they saw him last night.
Hey, did you know Wacha and Middlebrooks are both from Texarkana, TX? #headdesk
– The Cardinals bullpen looks tough, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal were filthy last night. The Red Sox managed to beat the Tigers by feasting off their bullpen. It looks like they’re going to need to score runs against the starters if they hope to beat the Cardinals.
Game three is Saturday night in St. Louis. Let’s go Sox, #getbeard, and enjoy the ride.