Home > Game Recaps, MLB > Red Sox Game 149 recap: Praising the manager

Red Sox Game 149 recap: Praising the manager

Highest WPA: Jarrod “Slammin'” Saltalamacchia, .261 (2-3, HR, BB, 4 RBI, 2 R)
Lowest WPA: Craig “not a LOOGY” Breslow, -.217 (1/3 IP, 2B, BB, K)

At the offset, this looked like it would be a comfortable blowout win. The Sox scored four runs in the bottom of the first, then loaded the bases in the second before Hiroki Kuroda escaped further damage. He was able to tighten up, however, and held the bats scoreless until he left in the seventh.

While he was tightroping out of trouble and keeping the Red Sox at bay, the Yankee bats were able to sneak their way back into it. A home run by Brendan Ryan of all people, and then a sacrifice fly (on a good play by Victorino -although it was his misplay that put the run in position to score in the first place), closed the gap to two, and then the Yankees took advantage of the Red Sox’ biggest weakness: the middle relief. Craig Breslow, who has no major platoon split over his career and a significant reverse split in 2013, was tasked with getting Robinson Cano out with the bases loaded into out; stunningly that didn’t work, and the game was tied.

However, I come not to bury John Farrell, but to praise him. In the bottom of the inning, after Victorino singled and David Ortiz was hit by a pitch, Mike Carp was due up against the wild and rattled Cesar Cabral. You could make a strong case for letting Mike hit for himself, or maybe dropping down a sacrifice bunt; instead, Farrell elected to send up Jonny Gomes, knowing that the Yankees had Preston Claiborne warming in the bullpen.

Gomes against a righty isn’t a great matchup, but it’s probably at least as good as Carp against a wild lefty; in addition, forcing Joe Girardi to go to Claiborne resulted in him not having a decent lefty available for the stretch of lefty batters (and switch hitters with big splits) that followed. That decision paid dividends, as Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit the game-winning grand slam. It was the rare shrewd, tangible tactical move from the man likely to win the AL Manager of the Year award.

The magic number drops to seven, and another day drops off the calendar. Is it too early to say that I hope they clinch at home?

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