All posts tagged 2013 playoffs

→ Jeff Passan with the Line of the Night on Lester’s Performance

Lester limped off the field with two outs in the eighth, happy to yield to Uehara for the final four outs. He faced pain and pressure and kicked their ass like he did cancer seven years ago and, best of all, he sent Boston home for a Game 6 that will turn Fenway Park into a ceaseless ball of energy.


→ Fangraphs’ Breakdown of Lester’s Game 5tart

Jeff Sullivan explains just how dominant Lester was last night. What a performance.

→ Koji Uehara picks off Kolten Wong to leave Cards ‘dumbfounded’ while Quintin Berry feels ‘invincible’

“That was wild,” Sox catcher David Ross said. “That was awesome. It was kind of like last night. I bet they’re dumbfounded, like, ‘What just happened?’ We had one of the better, probably second to David (Ortiz) for me, one of the best postseason hitters up and the guy gets picked off. I was real happy.”

So say we all.

→ Papi reminds the Red Sox that “This is Our Time”

No one has the full text of the speech,1 but the summaries make it sound pretty powerful:

“He just said, he called us all together and said, ‘Hey guys — this opportunity doesn’t come around very often. Let’s seize the moment, let’s have fun, let’s be ourselves. Let’s have some fun. Let’s go out there and let’s get after it, let’s play our game.’ And we did that. He, that guy, he leads by example, he leads by his voice, he keeps you loose, he gets on you when he needs to. He’s a great teammate. When that guy speaks, you listen, in the postseason especially.”


“It was pretty powerful,” bench coach Torey Lovullo said. “I wasn’t exactly sure what he was going to say. He brought up some good points. This is our time. Let’s play our type of baseball. It was a pretty powerful moment. Everyone came together and rallied behind those words.

It seemed to help yesterday. Hopefully, it will help tonight too.

  1. He apparently did not release the text of it via a press release earlier in the day. 

→ Jonah Keri Goes through the Craziness of the World Series

As always, Jonah’s piece is tremendous. The last line, however, deserves special treatment:

In a series with two very good, somewhat flawed, evenly matched clubs, the team that makes the best decisions — and stops making errors every other play — could be the one to beat.

It feels like all of the errors have been on the Sox side since Game 1. Hopefully, that will change tonight.

→ How April in Portland prepared Xander Bogaerts for the World Series

The Sea Dogs had a game postponed this season due to the cold — an April contest when the field froze overnight and couldn’t thaw the next day in 35-degree temperatures. Bogaerts got off to a slow start in the cold in April, but it lasted only 10 games. After going 7-for-41 those first 10 games, Bogaerts hit .432 the rest of the month.

That experience in Portland helped prepare Bogaerts for this time of year in Boston and St. Louis. The game-time temperature for Game Two of the World Series was 49 degrees — three degrees warmer than Opening Day at Hadlock Field. It’s supposed to be about 48 for the first pitch in St. Louis Saturday night.

The time in Maine definitely seems to have paid off. Bogearts has been raking during the series.1

  1. Which has really stood out with the rest of the Sox hitting so poorly. 

→ Fangraphs Goes Through The Season’s Wildest Swings

You’ve seen the year’s worst pitches, now it’s time for the worst swings.1

  1. I just love these. 

→ It’s still only one loss for Cardinals

A quick reminder that, even after last night’s win, the Red Sox still have a long way to go.1

  1. And the path involves facing a guy who has been unhittable during the playoffs. 

→ Fangraphs breaks down Lester’s Start in Game 1 of the World Series

If you want to see how Lester was so dominating, take a view minutes to read this.

→ Breaking down a game-changing overturn of a blown call

“It was my call. I stayed with the foot too long is how I ended up getting in trouble. When I was coming up, all I could see was a hand coming out and a ball on the ground,” said [second base umpire Dana] DeMuth. “I was focused on the bag and used my peripheral vision to see the ball go in heel or hit the glove. When the ball hit the glove, then in my peripheral vision, I’m looking up and the ball was down. … I was saying that he was in the exchange and he was out right there. Then with our crew signals, I had crewmates that were giving me the signal that they were 100 percent sure … that they had it and I had the wrong call.”

“He looks up,” explained crew chief and home plate ump John Hirschbeck, “and he knows by having several umpires standing around him that we want to — there’s something there. We want to get it right.”

I was all ready to go on a rant about horrible MLB’s umpires have been this year. Thankfully, they got together and made sure they got the call right. I wonder how much better things would be for MLB’s umps if they did things like that more often.

→ Lester is the Story of Game 1

Lester was lights out, dominating the Cardinals through 7 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and striking out eight without allowing a run. In his second career World Series start — the first one coming in 2007 — Lester managed to keep his ERA a pristine 0.00 in the fall classic. He pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in 2007’s Game 4, the series clincher.

Yes, the Cardinals made a bunch of defensive mistakes, but none of that really when matter with Lester pitching like he was.

→ Yahoo’s Position by Position World Series Breakdown

A little more light-hearted than some of the other previews I saw. My only real issue is I hope that Bogaerts turns out to win the third base battle.1

  1. With Xander’s limited track record, though, I can see why it is listed as a push. 

→ Summary of World Series Predictions

Jackson Alexander has a full summary over at WEEI. I particularly like his quote from Richard Justice though:

“[The Red Sox are] a team without a weakness, a team good enough to win an ALCS even when it doesn’t play well across the board. The Red Sox win because they hang in there, never back down and always think they’ll write the ending they choose to write. That’s what championship teams have done throughout the years, and this Red Sox team has that kind of vibe around it.”

I, obviously, hope he right.

→ Over the Monster’s World Series Preview

Ben Buchanan:

In the end, this World Series is likely going to come down to how well the Red Sox can adjust to what just happened against Detroit. If the Cardinals can execute the same game plan the Tigers did on the mound, and the Red Sox can’t make the changes necessary to avoid striking out 10+ times every game, then it’s hard to see a path to victory. Particularly when presented with the prospect of three games without the DH.

If, however, the Red Sox can make the necessary changes, or if the Cardinals just don’t quite have the arms to pull it off–it’s not exactly shameful to be second-best to Detroit’s madness–then the Red Sox could have their offense back to being what it was in the regular season, particularly with Xander Bogaerts now starting games at third. And with a solid backing from a rotation of Lester – Lackey – Buchholz – Peavy, that’s going to be tough to beat.

In the later games of the Detroit series, it seemed like the Sox finally figured out the right mix between grinding out at-bats and jumping on pitches they thought were going to be strikes. I hope that continues tonight.

→ People to Follow on Twitter During the World Series

In case you needed more information about the game thrown at you tonight.

→ GIFs of Last Night’s Sox win in ALCS Game 5

Last night’s game had a lot of great moments that are worthing seeing again. My favorite is Napoli’s home run, but Igelsias’ catch was pretty amazing.1

  1. I can deal with watching the catch because (1) the Sox won and (2) he was the one who got the out that ended the game. 

→ ALCS Game Three: Lackey Outduels Verlander, Napoli’s Bat Awakens, Breslow Freaks Out

The picture of Breslow is awesome.

→ How One Little Call Helped the Red Sox Beat the Tigers

Jeff Sullivan from Fangraphs breaks down the 1-1 strike Uehara threw to Peralta:

The specific point: Jarrod Saltalamacchia got an important strike, ahead of the game’s most important play. The more general point: individual pitches matter, sometimes quite a lot, because all pitches are connected. One pitch in part determines the next pitch, and so much of baseball comes down to the sequences. It’s important to understand the counts, and it’s important to understand the differences between them. Get there and it can start to make sense how pitch-framing research can yield such significant run values sometimes. Over a season there are a whole lot of pitches.

After all the strikes that Detroit has gotten during this series, I have little sympathy for them not getting this one borderline call.1

→ ALCS 2013: Red Sox know Miguel Cabrera’s weakness, and it is fastballs – Over the Monster

Marc Normandin at Over the Monster examines the Red Sox’s approach to pitching to Cabrera:

So, here you’ve got a hitter who can crush a mistake in an instant even in a lessened state, but he’s clearly not playing with his usual strength — you aren’t just seeing it at the plate, but also in the field, where he’s hobbled and positions himself so that Boston can’t spam bunts his way. The Red Sox took advantage by firing heaters in at him constantly, and it has kept him off of his game and mostly off of the bases as he’s not able to swing with his usual bat speed and frightening technical ability. As Buster Olney pointed out, Cabrera swung-and-missed nine times on Tuesday, the most he ever has in his entire career — eight of those nine whiffs came on fastballs, according to Brooks Baseball.

As a Red Sox fan, my only fear in seeing all the stories about the Sox’s approach to Cabrera is that Cabrera is going to adjust tonight and go deep 3 or 4 times.

→ Rob Bradford on How to beat Justin Verlander

But maybe the biggest key when it comes to trying to figure out to approach Verlander is simply not getting caught up in trying to pull the ball.

“You have to stay on the fastball, stay in the middle of the field and stay the other way because his changeup is devastating right now,” the hitting coach said. “If you have a pull mentality on the fastball, you’ll get eaten alive with the changeup

“You cannot think pull. That’s what happened with [Max] Scherzer. If you can have the mindset to drive the fastball to the opposite gap then that keeps you on the changeup just a hair longer. Any kind of pull mentality is devastating.”

It is going to be interesting to see how the Sox both:

  1. Approach Verlander; and

  2. Adjust their approach from the first two games.1

  1. When Tigers pitchers craved them up.