Home > Game Recaps, MLB > ALCS Game Two recap: What might have been.

ALCS Game Two recap: What might have been.

Goog note: When a game looks to be over before it actually finishes, we typically draft a recap, to be posted once the final out is made. This is what I wrote after the seventh inning of Game Two…

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Highest WPA: Fucked if I know. Probably Taz or Morales or something.
Lowest WPA: Clay Buchholz, -.143 (5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 6 K, 0 BB, 2 HR)

Basic baseball logic dictates that starting pitchers are better than relief pitchers, especially those relievers who don’t become closers. Because of this, it makes sense for batters to work the count against starting pitchers and tire them out as quickly as possible, so as to feast on the soft underbelly of the opposing team’s bullpen. This has been a tried and true formula for success for decades, and the Red Sox used it to great effect for basically all of the 2013 season. Especially against the Tigers, with their handful of excellent starters and somewhat less than excellent relievers, this would seem to be the obvious course of action.

But it didn’t work for one game, so obviously it should be abandoned. That was the thinking of panicked Red Sox fans–including my dear colleague Sportspun–and it seems that that was the thinking the Red Sox’ bats carried into this game. Despite the fact that they were able to chase Anibal Sanchez after just six innings last night, the fact that the Tiger bullpen recorded three scoreless innings was enough to convince people that they would never be scored upon again, and so it didn’t make any sense to try the same tactic against Max Scherzer tonight. The Red Sox’ batters seemingly agreed; although they were able to get to the Tiger starter for a single run after the game was out of hand, they also allowed him to throw seven innings–and if the game had been close, he would have gone back out for an eighth as well.

Of course, tonight, the philosophical argument about the offense was purely academic, thanks to the lethal combination of bad pitching and a slow hook. Clay Buchholz looked very good through the first five innings, but was visibly tiring as he came out for the sixth. Despite this, and despite the fact that Buchholz had made just a handful of starts since coming off the disabled list, and despite the fact the Red Sox are carrying six relief pitchers–including two long relievers–John Farrell didn’t even bother to have someone warm up until two runs had scored in the inning, and didn’t remove Buchholz until he had given up two more. When he finally did come to get Clay, I half expected Farrell to be carrying an actual barn door, which he would only close after a horse had run through it.

As Sportspun said in his part of the series preview, the Red Sox and Tigers were probably the best two teams in the American League this season, with the Tigers maybe having the slightest of edges. Even if you disagree with that, you have to agree that the chances of a comeback in this series are…slim. Down 2-0, the series now travels to Detroit, where Justin Verlander waits. Taking the ball for the Red Sox will be John Lackey, who has looked like…well, John Lackey…for his last handful of starts. 2004 taught us that nothing is over until it’s over, but this series is just about over.

Sportspun or I will have an actual recap up once we stop screaming/shaking.

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