A promising bottom of the 6th inning in Game 2 gave way to a disastrous top of the 7th as the Cardinal came back to tie the World Series at one game a piece. The Series now shifts to St. Louis for the next three games.
I was struck, after the game, at how much this is similar to the first two games of the American League Championship Series with the Tigers. In that series the Red Sox lost Game 1 at Fenway and looked like they were on the way to a loss in Game 2 before David Ortiz‘ grand slam and Torii Hunter‘s now infamous backflip. The Sox headed to Detroit with momentum and took two out of three games there.
Today, however, with a series that fans may struggle to remember is merely tied, the momentum is with the Cardinals, who leave Fenway as the Sox did in the ALCS after Game 2. In Thursday’s game, down by a run in the 6th, and given the historical strength of the Red Sox bullpen, there must be palpable relief to come from behind for the win and then head back home with the wind at your back.
Might we have witnessed the last game at Fenway in 2013?
There are certainly reasons for concern. Jake Peavy, the amped up Red Sox Game 3 starter owns a postseason record that’s abysmal: 0-3, with a 10.31 ERA in 4 starts. Most likely to come to mind will be Peavy’s last outing vs the Tigers where he allowed 5 hits, 3 walks, and 7 runs (all earned), over just 3.0 innings of work.
He’ll face yet another young Cardinals arm, Joe Kelly, against whom the Red Sox have no real experience. He went 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 37 games (15 starts) of 2013. In two postseason and 10 games (3 starts) he’s 0-1 with a 3.75 ERA. In is 2 starts vs the Dodgers in this year’s NL Championship Series Kelly pitched 11.0 innings allowing 13 hits, 2 walks, and 6 runs (all earned) while striking out 8. His NLCS ERA was 4.91.
The Buchholz question
Ostensibly the once-automatic Clay Buchholz will be the Game 4 starter on Sunday, though former Red Sox and current local sports radio host Lou Merloni told fans during the game Thursday that he witnessed Buchholz lobbing the ball pre-game and that it didn’t look pretty. A fact that he emphasized even more strongly on his radio show Friday morning, saying unequivocally, “I don’t think there’s a chance [Buchholz] pitches in Game 4.”
It doesn’t matter why he’s hit the wall like a weekend jogger hitting Heartbreak Hill on Patriots Day. It only matters if he has.
The Boston Globe, even before the World Series, said that Buchholz, despite his early-season success, needed to prove himself to be the staff’s ace and to stop making excuses.
[Buchholz] allowed 15 hits over 11-2/3 innings [in ALDS and ALCS], good for a 6.17 ERA, and despite his 12-1 regular season, the fans’ confidence in Buchholz is as low as it’s been in some time.
Panic? Who me?
Let’s face it. Red Sox fans of a certain age can be prone to panic. And why not? Things haven’t gone this team’s way in a long time, at least up until 2004. But club history is really irrelevant, isn’t it? The 2013 team is nothing like those other teams. It’s a unique blend of skill and chemistry that is all it’s own.
When a Boston fan told me the other day he was looking forward to facing the same team we swept in 2004 all I could do was chuckle. Just as with us, the Cardinals of 2013 are just the same club as 2004, not the same team. In fact, both of these teams are fundamentally sound. They are, quite literally, the best teams in baseball for this season.
It takes just one win in St. Louis to return the Series to Fenway where the Red Sox have played well all year. So what’s your view? Has momentum shifted and even if it has, how significant is it for the Series overall?