clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Scattered thoughts from a series-tying victory

New, 30 comments

David Price was....meh, the relief was (mostly) great, and some big games from the bottom of the lineup.

League Championship Series - Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

If the Red Sox weren’t in a must-win situation on Sunday, they were about as close to it as possible. Going down 2-0 to start this series, with both losses coming at home, would have been devastating and it would have taken a nearly impossible comeback to still win the series. No matter, they got it done. It wasn’t a perfect game, but the Red Sox did what they had to do and left Fenway with a two-run victory to tie the series at a game apiece. It’s a best of five series now. Here’s what’s rattling around the ol’ cranium after that one.

  • I’m going to start with David Price, but I’m not really sure where I stand here. I was surprised that, after the game, the narrative was mostly praise for the Red Sox lefty, whose team won a playoff start of his for the first time in his career. I definitely understand, and agree, that he wasn’t quite as bad as his line indicates, either. He had some bad defense behind him and some weak contact find its way through for hits. Still, he wasn’t all that great either. The home run to Marwin Gonzalez was a mammoth shot on a bad pitch at a bad time. He also walked four batters in 4 23 innings. Those are not great. He certainly could have been worse, he avoided any sort of blow-up to put the game out of hand early, and was simply good enough for the team to win. I’ll take it. That said, I’m still expecting more from him. As the regular Price defender, it feels weird to be saying this.
  • We’re still waiting for a truly signature game from Mookie Betts, but he was outstanding on Sunday. The Red Sox’ biggest star showed hit two big doubles, one leading to the first run of the game and the other driving in Boston’s last run of the night, and also went from first to home without a ball in play. (Of course, Houston contributed to that with some wild pitches and passed balls.) Betts is clearly the best and most important player on this team, and if Boston is going to get where it wants to go it needs more games like this.
League Championship Series - Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
  • Another star of the night: The middle relief. They have really been stars this entire postseason, with Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier playing the role in this game. I’ll have more on them later this morning so I don’t want to go too deep right now, but what was supposed to be the biggest weakness in October has been a huge part of the team’s success.
  • Ian Kinsler can’t start games right now. I know Brock Holt looked really bad against Justin Verlander on Saturday, and I know Kinsler provides better and more stable defense at second base. I also know the Astros are starting a left-handed starter in Dallas Keuchel on Tuesday for Game Three. I don’t care. Kinsler has looked lost at the plate for months now, save for a few good swings here and there. I expect him to be there on Tuesday, and we all know I’ve been wrong on these decisions a few times already this postseason. Still, given what I’ve seen I can’t justify Kinsler in the lineup in the near future.
  • Similarly, Rafael Devers needs to play every day. Again, with a lefty going in Game Three I would expect Eduardo Núñez, but Devers is an every day guy. It’s just so clear he has the better upside both offensively and defensively, even if the downside might be lower in both cases as well. Devers was a huge part of the offense on Sunday, going 2-3 with a walk, an RBI and a couple runs scored. He also made some big plays defensively. I like Núñez than just about everyone here, and think he can be fine as a pinch hitter or pinch runner. Devers needs to start, though.
  • Another big part of Sunday’s win? Jackie Bradley Jr. The Red Sox center fielder has been largely silent for the postseason in each of the last three years, but he had the biggest hit of the night in this game. His bases-clearing double gave Boston a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, and the Red Sox need that kind of offense from at least a couple guys in the bottom half of the lineup every night.
  • Sticking with that double, how about that bounce? After kicking off the wall it stayed up on the top of the padding in foul ground for two full bounces, allowing the third run to score and really making everything that much easier for the Red Sox on that play. It was a wild break, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen that before.
League Championship Series - Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
  • Most of the relievers have been good-to-great this postseason, but Craig Kimbrel has been a heart attack waiting to happen. He struggled a bit again on Sunday, though not to the same extent as that Yankees game. After two quick outs he gave up a double to George Springer and a hard-hit, wall-ball single to Jose Altuve. Alex Bregman had a chance to tie the game, and he came close, but his fly ball fell just short of the Monster for the third out. After the game, Andrew Benintendi indicated the ball blew back, too. There’s really not much to say about Kimbrel. He’s going to be the closer, and he’s an all-time great. He’s just got to find a tweak and get back to dominating, because eventually these performances are going to cost the team.
  • Another struggling star? J.D. Martinez. He hasn’t been terrible this postseason, and hit a huge three-run homer in his first at bat in the ALDS. However, he doesn’t have an extra-base hit since then, and that game was his only one with multiple hits. Plus, he also doesn’t have a hit at all in the first two games of this Astros series. It’s been frustrating to watch, but I’m not particularly worried. He’s too good to stay down for too long.
  • Why is Blake Swihart on the roster? This is nothing against Swihart, but I just don’t get his role. Mitch Moreland had a pinch-hit single in the ninth on Sunday, and because of his injury he was pinch-run for. Except, it was Sandy León, who stayed on to catch. I thought Swihart was here to pinch run, and I guess the argument is that they didn’t want to burn both catchers with one move. Well, they could have used Swihart as a catcher after running, or they could have used Holt to run instead of León. This was an inconsequential decision, but it was still strange.
League Championship Series - Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox - Game One Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images
  • The Red Sox are terrified of Bregman, and he showed on that last at bat why they should be. He’s drawn six walks in the first two games of this series, and the Red Sox are clearly not interested in pitching to him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Houston tries to shake up their lineup somehow to get more pitches in the zone for Bregman.
  • During Sunday’s game, we learned that Chris Sale was admitted to Mass General with a stomach illness. According to Alex Cora after the game, they don’t expect it’s serious, though he points out any time you have to go to the hospital there’s some cause for concern. Cora also said Sale didn’t complain of the illness until after his disappointing outing in Game One, so there doesn’t appear to be correlation there.