The World Series Shifts To Our Nation’s Capital

After two games in Houston, the Nationals are two wins away from their first ever World Series Championship. Now, the World Series shifts to Washington, DC and Nationals Park. This is a big moment for DC, who have witnessed two championships in the past few years. Both the Washington Capitals and the Mystics have won championships in DC. Now, the Nationals can be next.

For Houston, it’s officially crunch time. After aces Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander couldn’tworld series shifts stop the red hot Nats, Zack Greinke looks to stop the bleeding. As the World Series shifts to Nationals Park, the Nationals will rely on Anibal Sanchez to keep the ball rolling. After almost completing a no-hitter against the Cardinals, Sanchez looks to dominate in Game 3 on Friday night.

The World Series Shifts to DC

The Nationals look to dominate at home in Games 3 and 4 after two great wins. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasberg took control in their respective starts in Houston, while Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander took the loses for Houston. Ryan “Mr. National” Zimmerman, who is in his 15th season with DC, took Cole deep in the 2nd inning of Game 1 to get things started. Game 1 ended with a score of 5-4. Game 2 saw a battle of the aces between Strasberg and Verlander. With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the 7th, the Nationals scored 6 runs off of Verlander. A home run by Kurt Suzuki led the way in that inning. The final score in Game 2 was 12-3.

Now, the Nationals head home to Nationals Park to try and complete the sweep. A possible Game 5 will also be held at Nationals Park. While the Nationals and Astros have named their Game 3 starters, their Game 4 starters for Saturday night have yet to be announced. For Houston, they’re looking to try and even the series. Their offense was hot in the ALCS, and it looks as though Alex Bregman is starting to find his groove, especially after hitting the two run home run off of Strasberg in the first inning.

World Series Predictions

Last time, I said that the Nationals were going to take it in seven games. After the last two games, and seeing how their offense exploded last night, I’m going with Nationals in five. Houston needs to figure out what is going on with Cole and Verlander, and hope that Greinke is up for the task of stopping DC tomorrow night. 2017 World Series MVP George Springer was off to a good start in the first game, but struggled in the second. The rest of Houston’s lineup needs to catch fire, especially now that it looks like Bregman is heating up after a slow start to the postseason.

For the Nationals, they need to stay hot. Juan Soto has been on a tear in Games 1 and 2. In Game 1, he went 3-4 with a home fun and a double. NLCS MVP Howkie Kendrick, who has been the DH the last two games, is slowly reheating. Game 1 wasn’t a good game for Kendrick, but he bounced back in Game 2, going 2-5 in the game. Pitching is also a key in the next set of games. With the next 2 or 3 games in DC, the DH is not an option, so pitchers will be batting. While DC is obviously used to this, the Astros will have to think of ways to keep their line up and bullpen intact.

If I were to pick an MVP for the series right now, I’d choose Yuli Gurriel for Houston, and Adam Eaton for the Nationals. Both players have come up big for their teams in the first two games, and I hope that they continue their success in the next games.

Red Sox Fire Farrell, Varitek Reportedly Interested

The Boston Red Sox fired manager John Farrell today after a five-year stint with red sox firethe team. Seeing the Red Sox fire Farrell comes with mixed emotions from Red Sox Nation.Some fans credit him with the three AL East Divisions the Red Sox win during his tenure. Others, however, point to his last-place finishes in 2014 and 2015. Then there were the early exits from the playoffs this and last year. While Red Sox Nation reacted with mixed emotions to Farrell’s departure, those same fans rejoiced when they learned Jason Varitek reportedly wants to come aboard as the new manager.

 

 

 

According to NESN.com, Varitek has expressed his interest in managing the Red Sox. “Having been a part of the front office and having the ability to still get on the field everywhere that I go, I know I have more impact on the field,” Varitek was quoted as saying in the article. It goes without saying that hiring him would come as a very welcoming move. Varitek, a Red Sox Hall of Famer, was a tenacious Red Sox catcher and on-field leader. His spar with Alex Rodriguez in 2004 is immortalized throughout Boston. He is widely popular throughout New England. In fact, hiring Varitek would be enough to erase the frustrations most fans have in the wake of Farrell’s termination.

The Red Sox Fire Farrell After Five Rollercoaster Seasons

The Red Sox almost fired Farrell in 2015 but his cancer diagnosis likely kept the team from doing so. Regardless, while the Red Sox went on to win the AL East Division in 2016 and 2017, many in Red Sox Nation noticed that the team didn’t play with the zeal seen during the 2013 season. Many of the players have questioned Farrell’s leadership ability in recent months. Other fans have often wondered what Farrell was thinking when he’d start a weak pitcher, or send in an inexperienced hitter to pinch hit. These issues culminated in Farrell’s eventual termination. Personally, I think it’s a smart move. The Red Sox have been a boring team to watch for the last few years, and I think that had a lot to do with the fact that the players aren’t playing with the same enthusiasm that players in Chicago, LA, and Washington play with. Farrell wasn’t an inspiring manager.

Seeing the Red Sox fire Farrell opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for his replacement. Some say Hall of Famer Tony Larussa might come out of retirement and take over. Others say the Red Sox might take a chance on Brad Ausmus, who was recently fired by the Detroit Tigers. But Varitek? Most in Red Sox Nation wouldn’t have a problem with that. He’s fierce, competitive, and he certainly would make watching the Red Sox a lot more interesting.

I say go for it!

Where Did it All Go Wrong for the Red Sox?

The irony was painful. After a summer of blowout wins and offensive fireworks, the Red Sox succumbed weakly in the fall, unable to locate the big hit when it mattered most. A vaunted lineup, unrivaled in the Majors this season, was stifled by a resilient Cleveland Indians team, as old friend Terry Francona masterminded a Division Series sweep of Boston.

Red Sox

Before the series, few people took the Indians seriously. Three of their best players – Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar – were missing due to injury. Another star, Corey Kluber, saw his start pushed back due to another ailment. By most measures, the Red Sox were far superior. Most fans predicted a swift sweep. That’s exactly what they got, but of an entirely different flavor.

A Shock for Red Sox Nation

The way it happened was stunning. Boston didn’t play great to close the regular season, but a refreshed approach was expected once the playoffs began. Instead, Red Sox Nation was left waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more, for a team that never showed up. Almost from the first pitch in Cleveland, there was a sense of brewing melodrama. There was a sense that this team had run its course, quite incredibly. The Indians finished the job with shocking rapidity.

Perhaps plain old complacency is to blame. Did the Red Sox simply believe their own hype? That’s difficult to confirm, but it would at least explain the way Boston was caught like a deer in the headlights. When the games really mattered, when the wheat was separated from the chaff, this team wasn’t good enough. It just never got going. And now we’re left to contemplate through the bitter months ahead.

As people digest this loss around the hot stoves of New England, one topic will inspire more debate that any other: the choking offense. So powerful during the regular season, the Red Sox lineup froze on the biggest stage of all.

How Did the Red Sox Get Swept?

While it’s unfair to pinpoint any one guy for criticism, it is worth noting the performance of these praised hitters to paint a collective picture. Dustin Pedroia managed two hits in twelve ALDS at-bats. Mookie Betts, by all consensus an MVP candidate, collected just two in ten. That was better than Jackie Bradley, who produced just one hit, while Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez combined to go 6-for-24. It just wasn’t good enough.

Even David Ortiz, the master of October baseball, found little magic left in his wand. Papi added just one more hit to his postseason ledger before riding off into the cold night. For once, he couldn’t muster the big blow, and neither could his teammates. The Red Sox left 41 runners on base during this three-game series. They scored just seven runs. In the end, after all the worrying, that ridiculed rotation kept Boston in these games for the most part. The offense just couldn’t deliver.

And so, what now? The Red Sox will seek a replacement for Ortiz, as weird as that sounds. Perhaps John Farrell will see his position as manager reviewed. Maybe Dave Dombrowski will try to address some weaknesses throughout the offseason.

This young core will return to the postseason on plenty of occasions moving forward. But, right now, this was just a step too far for Mookie, Xander, Jackie and the rest. They should learn from the experience, and come back stronger for it. That may not help Red Sox fans deal with the present shock, but it should assist these players in preparing for future assaults on a World Series championship.

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.

Red Sox On The Brink Of Elimination

With all the optimism September brought for the Red Sox, October is sweeping it away. Winless this month, the Red Sox are facing a harsh reality: elimination. Cleveland quickly became the setting of Red Sox Nation’s nightmares with the debacles of games one and two. After two utter disappointments, the season will hang in the balance of game three on Monday at Fenway.

Game one was seen as crucial in that the Red Sox would need to win to feel Eliminationcomfortable. With Rick Porcello going against Trevor Bauer, it seemed like a sure win for Boston. Porcello, however, dug his own grave in the third inning, giving up three home runs. Even though the Red Sox had the lead twice before that, they were never able to recover. They cut it down to one twice and stranded the tying run at third in the eighth. A gutsy five-out save by Cody Allen closed out a 5-4 Indians victory.

Down 1-0 in the series, David Price got the ball to try and tie the series. This seemed like the perfect setting for Price to “earn” his contract money after an under-performing regular season. Once again, Price couldn’t resist the urge to let us down. Adding to his atrocious postseason resumé, Price gave up five runs on six hits in three and one/third innings. If this were his last start of the season, it would only be fitting. A four-run second inning capped by a three-run home run by Lonnie Chisenhall finished off the Red Sox in game two. An injured Corey Kluber stuffed my foot in my own mouth and shut the Sox out in seven innings en route to a 6-0 victory.

The Smell Of Elimination In The Air

So now the stage is set for the Red Sox. Game three at Fenway with Clay Buchholz on the mound. Dustin Pedroia talked post game about how this performance does not embody the team. Well, it’s time to put up or shut up. Pedroia is just 1-8 this series. Also, David Ortiz, Jackie Bradley, Xander Bogaerts, and Mookie Betts are a combined 3-28 in the first two games. It’s a bit scary to think the only bright spots, offensively, in both games have been Brock Holt and Andrew Benintendi.

A rah-rah kind of speech rarely works in baseball, but if Dustin Pedroia lit a fire under his team, they’ll certainly need it. They sleep-walked in Cleveland and it’s yet to be determined whether they’ll wake up before they walk right off the cliff. History may be on their side, the Red Sox are the only franchise to ever come back from this same deficit in the ALDS twice. The first time they did that was in 1999, coincidentally against Cleveland.

After game two, it really can’t get much worse. Monday should be a slugfest. The Red Sox should get their act together and Buchholz is pitching in Fenway, so the balls should fly. That should favor the league’s best offense, but who knows with this team anymore? Let’s just hope the Red Sox save us the embarrassment of avoiding a sweep. On the bright side, if they lose this series it’ll surely be the end of John Farrell’s tenure. That is, if they have any pride at all. It’s the little things.

Red Sox Versus Indians: 2016 ALDS Preview

The Red Sox are about to embark on their first postseason run since 2013. More importantly, it will be just the second time in seven years that October baseball will visit Boston. So, what can fans expect in the American League Division Series, and will the Red Sox advance?

Red Sox

Well, it’s perhaps easier to answer the first question. Boston has a first round matchup with the Cleveland Indians, needing three wins to advance. The first two games will be played at Progressive Field, with the next two at Fenway Park. If a deciding fifth contest is needed, the teams will travel back to Cleveland, which has experienced something of a baseball revival in recent months.

Cleveland Will Test the Red Sox

The Indians have a fascinating history. From the days of Cy Young and Nap Lajoie through to Bob Feller and Larry Doby, and on to Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez, Cleveland has built some very good teams. However, that effort has yielded just two world championships, and none since 1948. Still, the Cavaliers won an NBA title this year, ending Cleveland’s notorious drought, so perhaps there’s a little magic in the air by Lake Erie.

A familiar friend captains the Cleveland ship. Terry Francona, the mastermind of two World Series championships for the Red Sox, has been the Indians’ manager since 2013. The first few years were rough, but a core of young players has since emerged, with shortstop Francisco Lindor and second baseman Jason Kipnis leading Cleveland to its first full postseason series since 2007. Attendance has increased for Indians home games, and this is definitely a team looking to progress swiftly.

The Indians Are Struggling With Injuries

Francona won’t be able to rely much on his vaunted starting rotation in this series, though. The Indians pitched to a 3.86 ERA during the regular season, much better than the Red Sox’ 4.00 mark. However, the Indians have lost Carlos Carrasco to injury. Ace Corey Kluber will return from a scare to pitch in Game 2, but Danny Salazar, the third head of this tremendous trident, has not made the ALDS roster thanks to a strained forearm.

Essentially, the Indians’ biggest strength has been decimated by injuries. Trevor Bauer and his 4.42 career ERA will start Game 1 against the Red Sox, while Josh Tomlin and Mike Clevinger aren’t exactly petrifying. Nevertheless, Boston cannot take anything for granted, especially given the erratic nature of its own pitching staff.

The Red Sox do have a considerable advantage in terms of offense. Boston scored 101 more runs than Cleveland during the regular season, and also had a far superior run differential. Those statistics may not play especially well in a short series, but no team in baseball can fully match the Red Sox with regard to a dynamic lineup that can score in multiple ways. If the bats keep producing at their normal clip, and the pitching holds up, it will be really difficult for the Indians to stick with the Red Sox.

Of course, nothing is ever easy in October. All of these teams emerged from the enormous grind of a season to earn this opportunity. But the Indians seem to be falling apart physically at the worst possible time, affording the Red Sox a brilliant chance of advancing.

So strap yourself in. It’s time to get excited. Let’s see if Big Papi and the Red Sox have one more run in them, when it really matters most.