Indians Closely Studied Red Sox Pitching

Like many Boston fans, I thought the Red Sox would steam roll over the Indians in Cleveland before coming back Boston to clinch the ALDS. Rick Porcello and David Price gave us little reason to think otherwise. Unfortunately, that plan fell through. Porcello gave up three home runs in the third inning of Game One for a 5-4 Tribe win. After allowing the Indians to blank the Sox 6-0, Price reinforced the “Can’t pitch in the postseason” stereotype in Game 2. Its clear the Indians studied Red Sox pitching very closely before the ALDS began.

Some people are surprised the Red Sox lost the first two games. I am too, but not for theStudied Red Sox Pitching same reasons. David Price doesn’t have a great post season record. He has a 2-8 record with a 5.54 ERA in the post season. Rick Porcello is 0-3 with a 5.66 ERA in post season play. So it’s no wonder they struggled, especially with a combined 2-11 post season record. That leaves few other options in the rotation though. Steven Wright isn’t available for the ALDS, but he is for the ALCS. Clay Buchholz has a 0-0 record with a 4.21 ERA in post season play. So how did the Indians learn so much about the Red Sox pitching staff? That’s easy. Terry Francona.

Francona managed the Red Sox from 2004 to 201, leading them to two World Series Championships. He managed David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Clay Buchholz. He knows their strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it’s that knowledge that might very well guide the Cleveland Indians to victory. This situation is just one more reason why the Red Sox shouldn’t have let him go in 2011.

Indians Studied Red Sox Pitching, But That’s Not All They Studied

In addition to the pitching, many thought the entire team wasn’t ready for post season play. The team is enthusiastic but young. The stress and excitement is straining them. Some of they players couldn’t even legally drink a year ago. So of course they’re going to have a hard time in the playoffs. That’s not an excuse, it’s just reality.

Like the Chicago Cubs of last year, Red Sox are seeing a glimpse of that potential that makes them a fun team to watch. Also like the Cubs of last year, the Red Sox are struggling in the post season. If the Red Sox manage to beat back the Tribe this year and advance to the ALCS, then all the more power to them. I’ll be in the stands cheering my head off with everyone else. Regardless of this season, I honestly think that next year’s Red Sox team will play much better next year given all they’ve learned this year. They’ll have more experience, their pitchers will pitch better, and their hitters will know how to hit opposing pitchers better.

So even though the Indians studied Red Sox pitching well enough to gain an advantage over them this season, they’ll end this season with new knowledge that will make them a better team next year.

Pedroia, Not Ortiz, is the Red Sox Backbone

David Ortiz received a tremendous amount of attention this season due to his retirement. A bridge bears his name, he’s a member of the 500 HR Club, and he’s a true humanitarian. Ortiz, however, has certainly overshadowed his teammates, specifically Dustin Pedroia. As the Red Sox Backbone, Pedroia, not Ortiz, is the team’s true leader.

Players like Pedroia are a rarity in baseball today. He’s a man who comes to the ballparkred sox backbone ready to play no matter what. He doesn’t hesitate to admonish other players. He plays with an intensity hardly seen in other ballplayers. That’s not to say other ballplayers don’t work hard or care about the game. The difference though is that Pedroia is ALWAYS in this frame of mind. Whether you see him on or off the field, or before or after a game, the man constantly focuses on winning.

Pedroia a beast. He won the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year and a World Series title. He won the AL MVP Award the following season and took home a Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove Award. The four-time All-Star, and four-time Gold Glove winner collected 201 hits this season. At the age of 33, when many players are seeing their abilities deteriorate, Pedroia’s are holding steady. It’s not just his accolades and numbers that make him such a good player though. It’s his ability to motivate his teammates that makes him the Red Sox backbone.

David Ortiz is a Red Sox Legend, But Pedroia is the Red Sox Backbone

Regardless of whether the Red Sox win the World Series this year, Pedroia is clearly on his way to achieving legendary status. While largely responsible for the Red Sox success, Pedroia contributes to the success of others, too. Red Sox rookie Andrew Benintendi currently lives with Pedroia, who couldn’t be a more perfect mentor. Pedroia is not afraid to have “Come to Jesus” meetings on the mound with Eduardo Rodriguez. When it comes to breaking records, it’s clear that Pedroia cares more about success than personal gain.

Pedroia Doesn’t Care About Records

When Pedroia came within a hair’s breath of tying MLB’s consecutive hits record this season (which is 12), the second baseman didn’t give it much attention. “I heard something, but I didn’t know what it was,” Pedroia told CBS Sports. “I was going to the bathroom, and I heard them say it on TV. I didn’t really catch what they were saying.” In fact, Pedroia doesn’t have much tolerance for trivial matters. When told that he had a 16-game hitting streak going, Pedroia didn’t care. “I don’t give a $#!t,” he told Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato. “I’m just playing the game. That’s my job, to go out there and play and help us win games.”

Like Bobby Doerr before him, Pedroia brings a quiet but forceful intensity to the game. And like Doerr, there’s no doubt that Pedroia will one day get inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame where he will join other Red Sox legends, including David Ortiz.

Discipline Key To Red Sox World Series Title

The Boston Red Sox overcame poor press and play over the last two seasons to break into the playoffs. This 2016 season saw many ups and downs. We saw strong pitching from Rick Porcello, and weak pitching from Clay Buchholz. We saw strong hitting from Hanley Ramirez, and weak hitting from Aaron Hill. And we saw strong fielding from Dustin Pedrioa, and weak fielding from Travis Shaw. The weaknesses didn’t come anywhere near overshadowing the successes the Red Sox had this season though. Ramirez redeemed his weak 2015 performance as a clutch hitter. Porcello emerged as a Cy Young favorite. And last, but not least, David Ortiz is retiring after perhaps the best season of his career. In order to gain another Red Sox World Series Title though, the team will have to focus on strengthening its discipline.

The Boston Red Sox led the American League with 878 runs this season. The team alsoRed Sox World Series Title led the league with a .282 batting average and a .348 on-base percentage. Despite these remarkable numbers, the Red Sox also led the American League in leaving runners in scoring position per game (3.63) and runners left on base per game (7.17). Despite their strong offensive numbers, these last two stats aren’t anything to be proud of. One of the most frustrating things about this season was how the Red Sox blew multiple opportunities to bring runners home. More than once the Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs only to rack up three outs without driving anyone home. Instead of cheers, Red Sox Nation responded with boos and grunts as they left Fenway Park in frustration.

A Red Sox World Series Title Depends On Plate Discipline

The Red Sox are more than capable of driving in runs, and rallying from behind. Hanley Ramirez proved that he’s a valuable clutch hitter. David Ortiz, going into his final days as a player, tied for the most RBIs this season, and should have plenty of experience and ability to rack up a few more runs. The problem will be with players who don’t have a lot of post season experience. The stakes are high (as they always are in a playoff series) but that has to be taken more seriously than ever. Players like Sandy Leon, Aaron Hill, Travis Shaw, and even Xander Bogaerts have to learn how to stay patient at the plate and wait for the right pitch. That’s an easy thing for me to say though because it’s not me up there hitting. Regardless, these small moments will make or break the Red Sox.

Getting guys on base is what the Red Sox do well. Bringing them home is another story. If we want to see another Red Sox World Series Title, the players have to buckle down on plate discipline, and stay patient. That’s how Boston will get to see another victory parade.

What’s Next For Hobbling Red Sox?

After two dreadful seasons, the Boston Red Sox clinched their first playoff berth since 2013. It came during an eleven-game winning streak. A streak that saw Hanley Ramirez’s bat litter the night sky with spinning white baseballs. A streak where the Red Sox came from behind to beat their nemesis, the New York Yankees. Although they are now playoff contenders, the hobbling Red Sox, who won only one game after September 25th, will now face the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, October 6th. There’s much at stake as the Red Sox travel to Cleveland.

It could be said that the retirement ceremonies played a role in the Red Sox poor season finish. Thehobbling red sox attention David Ortiz received no doubt distracted him. Despite all the praise showered on Ortiz, it also hurt the team’s ability to stay focused. This may have led the team to lose important games in the final week of the season. Of course, it’s not fair to say that the attention Ortiz received broke the team’s winning streak. Other factors include manager John Farrell’s choice to play the B team in to keep the team’s top players healthy for the playoffs. Regardless of that plan, a Red Sox victory on the last day of the season would have capped what has already been a historic year for the team. Instead, a hobbling Red Sox team lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, who are fighting for a playoff spot themselves.

Beating Cleveland Will Be a Challenge for The Hobbling Red Sox

The Cleveland Indians are one of those teams that people often forget about. Since their incorporation in 1901, the Indians have won only two World Series titles, in 1920 and 1948. They’ve come close since then, but they still rank among the top when it comes to World Series droughts. One might say that Boston doesn’t want a World Series title as badly as Cleveland does since they just won one three years ago. That idea, however, is ridiculous. The Red Sox aren’t so arrogant as to “forfeit” a World Series title, especially in Big Papi’s final season, which would be the greatest of sendoffs for any retiring player.

If the Red Sox are going to make it to the World Series, they have to play their A game. The hobbling Red Sox have to snap out of the lethargic play fans saw last week. Yes, they’re tired, but they’ll have to work harder than ever now. The Red Sox won’t only face a hungry team in Cleveland, they’ll also have to play before an enthusiastic crowd.

Whatever the Red Sox do on Thursday, there’s one thing they MUST remember: It’s very bad to drink Jobu’s rum.

Very bad.

Can Sox Credit John Farrell For Turnaround?

John Farrell’s managerial skills have attracted criticism and anger from fans and writers alike. Despite leading the Red Sox to a World Series in 2013, the team finished at the bottom in 2014 and 2015. There are many possible reasons that explain the first-to-worst finish. Some experts point to a pattern of defending World Series Champions taking a nose dive following a successful season. Others point to a weak lineup and pitching rotation. Can the Red Sox credit John Farrell for the team’s turnaround? After an eleven game winning streak and a playoff berth, many say yes. Or does it really matter who is at the helm of a team?

Going back to the introduction, it’s rare, but not uncommon, to see World SeriesSox credit John Farrell Championship teams take a turn for the worst. The 2013 San Francisco Giants finished in last place following a championship season. So did the 1998 Florida (now Miami) Marlins. Before then, however, records show that many defending champs finished first again, if not second or third. So while it’s not unheard of, it’s not common either. So does that mean Farrell can take the credit for leading the team to a playoff berth?

Let’s also go back to the issue of hitting and pitching. Casey Stengel’s New York Yankees won five consecutive World Series between 1949 and 1953. Does that make him a good manager? Well, considering that the Yankees had players like Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizutto, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford in those years, one might argue that they should take all the credit. In other words, Stengel was successful because of the failsafe lineup of hitters and pitchers on the team. The 1962 New York Mets, however (who Stengel also managed), went 40-120. These numbers show that in some cases it’s more about hitting and pitching than managing. With such a strong lineup, why didn’t the Red Sox do better in 2015?

Sometimes It’s All About Who’s Driving, and Who’s Steering

I take that back. The Red Sox 2015 lineup wasn’t that strong. Sure, the Red Sox had David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, and Dustin Pedroia in their lineup, but most of them have a less than stellar year. Ortiz hit 37 homers but batted only .273. Ramirez hit only .249 and played shoddily in left field. Pedroia was out for much of the season. With this lineup of injuries and flaws, it’s no wonder they finished last. These same players are now having a career year. Ortiz is playing like he’s in his prime again. Ramirez could very well snag an MVP award. Pedrioa is looking as good as ever. The Red Sox have improved as a team this year, especially since the All-Star break. So can the Red Sox credit John Farrell for that kind of turnaround? Hardly.

The Red Sox Credit John Farrell, But Will the Fans?

Farrell might be managing a playoff team this year, but given how consistent the team does when they’re injury-plagued, I’m inclined to believe the Red Sox success has more to do with the success of their hitting and pitching. That isn’t to say Farrell can’t take any credit. After all, he’s still in charge, and one could easily argue that he’s now working with a team healthy enough to follow through with his strategies.

Managers who won World Series Championships with weak hitting are few and far in between. The team is playing well now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the Red Sox credit John Farrell for their successes.

David Ortiz Continues To Show Class

As the sun sets on his career, David Ortiz continues to show class and respect to friends and foes alike. Throughout the season, Ortiz has remained humble as opposing teams shower him with gifts and admiration that caps a 20-year career in the majors. The gifts themselves are more than apporopriate. The Houston Astros gave “Big Papi” a custom-made black Stetson cowboy hat. The Seattle Mariners gave him 34 pounds of salmon. The Kansas City Royals gave Ortiz a chair from the 2013 All-Star Game. The Baltimore Orioles gave Ortiz the dugout phone he destroyed with a bat in 2013. But in all the tributes opposing teams have shown Ortiz, he has shown only gratitude in return.

It’s very rare for retiring players to receive this much attention. In recent years, only playersDavid Ortiz continues like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Cal Ripken Jr. have received such honors. With the first two for-sure Hall of Famers, and Ripken already inducted, it’s all but guaranteed that Ortiz will enter the hall in his first year of eligibility. What makes David Ortiz such an icon isn’t just his numbers, or his clutch hitting. It’s his ability to inspire confidence, hope, and selflessness in the wake of tragedy.

As David Ortiz Continues His Farewell Tour, His Humbleness Ensues

Bostonians remember Ortiz’s famous words days after the Boston Marathon Bombing. The words “This is our f—ing city!” rang through Fenway Park when Americans needed to hear it. Red Sox fans’ spirits soared with the grand slam ball he hit in the 2013 ALCS championship game. Perhaps the most humble gesture of all, however, is his observance of the death of Jose Fernandez, who recently died in a boating accident on September 25th in Miami, Florida.

Before Fernandez’s death, the Tampa Bay Rays were set to honor David Ortiz before Sunday’s game. Instead, Ortiz asked the Rays to cancel the ceremony in honor of the Marlins’ ace. So a moment of silence in memory of the late pitcher’s death took its place. Standing alongside his teammates, tears ran down Ortiz’s face as he remembered his friend, Jose Fernandez.

As David Ortiz continues his journey into the sunset of his career, fans and foes alike will remember Big Papi’s grace, agility, and presence. Intimidating as he is kind, hulking as he is humble, David Ortiz will forever live in the memories of anyone who saw him play.