Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Game 1 - Boston at Baltimore

Game 1 – 3/31/2014
Baltimore 2, Boston 1

So the title defense starts out in the wrong direction, with one starting outfielder (World Series hero Shane Victorino) headed to the DL in the morning and a one-run loss to a division rival in the afternoon. On the whole, though, there were as many positives as negatives, as the Red Sox outplayed the Orioles. The Red Sox hit (.250/.325/.389/.714) and created 4.8 runs, while the Orioles hit (.214/.241/.321/.563) and created 1.33. Jon Lester threw 104 pitches through strong innings, while Boston knocked Chris Tillman out of the game after five having thrown that same 104. Each team hit one solo home run, while the Red Sox had more hits (9 vs. 6), 2B (2 vs 0), BB (3 vs. 1) and HBP (1 vs. 0). But Baltimore’s timing was better, as one of its hits came with a runner on 3rd and none of Boston’s did. Those things happen. While a win would have been a better result, and there are bound to be some negative reactions (“see – they got SO lucky last year!”), there’s nothing for Red Sox fans to be disappointed about with game one.

Other than, you know, the result.

So, a couple of points…
  • One of the interesting discussions during the World Series took place after game 5, when John Farrell was castigated for letting Jon Lester hit in the 7th inning, rather than pulling him out. There were several people who identified that as the single worst managerial move of the post-season. And part of the rationale for that criticism is based on a data suggesting that the third time through the lineup, starting pitchers produce significantly worse results, to the extent that there is virtually never a time when there isn’t a reliever more likely to be successful. So as Lester took the mound for the seventh, I was looking at the box score, and thinking, “hmm, he’s four batters into the third time through. I wonder if this is a mistake.” And 10 seconds later, Nelson Cruz drove his first pitch of the inning into the left-field bleachers for the game winning run. [Note – this is not me second-guessing the manager because a) I thought it before the pitch was thrown and b) I wouldn’t have done it differently.] 
  • The Grady Sizemore experiment pays dividends on day one, as he went 2-4 and accounted for the Red Sox lone run with a solo home run in the 4th. That, on top of his spring training performance, would suggest that he’s still capable of being a good Major League baseball player, when he can stay healthy. Only time will tell whether he can. 
  •  I did have one second-guess – actually, let’s call it a disagreement – with Farrell. I would have started Bradley in right and left Carp on the bench. That would not necessarily have made any different to the outcome.
  • At one point during the radio broadcast, one of the announcers (I think it was Lou Merloni, but it might have been Castiglione) praised Will Middlebrooks for being “willing to take strike two.” At which point I said, “I’ll be more impressed when he’s willing to take ball four.”

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