Let’s take a look at the rundown of ALCS Games 3-5.
Game 3 was an exciting one with John Lackey providing, in my opinion, one of his finest performances, in both regular and post-season play, against an always tough Justin Verlander. Management of the pitching staff was close to perfect, too. John Farrell got it right. He pulled his starter at the right time, whether the starter liked it or not (and Lackey didn’t)! He let Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa, and, of course, Koji Uehara, do their thing in the final innings, but not overdue it, which can be tempting. This strategy worked. And would you believe it, Mike Napoli provided the home run that would clinch the win 1-0. Yes, Napoli is awake! The trend continued through Game 4 and 5 as he continued to contribute to the offense.
Jake Peavy didn’t seem to help the Red Sox in ALCS Game 4. What happened in the second inning was soul crushing. There was talk by sportscasters that his vision is poor at 20/300. You’ve got to wonder whether he can see anything at all. Furthermore, with such bad eye sight how is Peavy effective as a pitcher? The Tigers took advantage, living up to their name, and scored so many runs that by the 3rd inning a Detroit win seemed a foregone conclusion. After all, the bullpen was not ready to perform so early in the game. In addition, the Sox defense was just horrific during Game 4. I don’t think I have seen this team play such poor defense all season! It seemed everyone took a bite out of a Butterfinger before Wednesday night’s tilt.
The only good that came of Game 4 was one Xander Bogaerts. He made a name for himself as a major league offensive player, making management think twice about his potential. He made people think “Hey why isn’t this guy in the lineup?” Sure enough, Thursday night’s Game 5 rolled around and he was in the lineup batting just before David Ross.
Game 5 was the polar opposite of Game 4. The Red Sox got the momentum going early off of pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Clearly, they learned a lot from Game 1. Jon Lester remained fairly solid, but faltered a bit; the offense saved him. Farrell turned to Junichi Tazawa first, and Craig Breslow next, to toss the middle innings. I believe that middle reliever combination was far more effective and should be utilized more often. It was right for the Tigers lineup, and also for Breslow, as I feel he needs additional bullpen time to warm up before taking the mound.
The Red Sox seem poised to earn a victory at home either Saturday or Sunday night. I look forward to the outcome. Though I wanted (and misguidedly predicted) the Sox to win in 5 games, I am glad our beloved team will be back on the grass at Fenway.
Just like Dorothy said, “there is no place like home,” and that could not be truer for this team.