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Scattered Thoughts after a crushing, marathon loss

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I just.....what?

World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

I’ve been calling these posts “Scattered Thoughts” all postseason, but these are truly the most scattered. I’m writing this at 3:45, 45 minutes before I have to leave for work so forgive me if this is all jumbled.

  • Where do I even start? I guess I’ll start with the beginning here and talk about Walker Buehler. As I write this it feels like it was a week ago that Buehler made his start, but I checked and it really was this game. The Red Sox had some awful at bats against him in this game, and some of it was them. They looked to be pressing and just generally lost at the plate and they deserve criticism. That being said, don’t let that criticism overtake any praise for Buehler, because he deserves all of it. The Dodgers starter was as impressing in this outing as I can ever remember a rookie in this kind of game. His stuff is absolutely incredible, and he’s going to be a stud in the Dodgers rotation for a long, long time.
  • The strike zone is also going to be a big topic of discussion among Red Sox fans after this game. I’ll start by saying that blaming umpires for a loss in anything but extremely extenuating circumstances is pretty lame. That’s the case here, too. Boston’s bats certainly weren’t helped by a wildly inconsistent strike zone that sure seemed to favor the home team, but that wasn’t the reason their bats went silent. They had poor approaches at the plate, put some bad swings on hittable pitches and went up against stellar pitching. All of that outweighed any umpiring discrepancies, at least in this writer’s opinion.
  • So, about that Ian Kinsler play. There’s no defending it. The one way you can kind of come to Kinsler’s defense is by saying the play shouldn’t have happened at all. With Yasiel Puig at the plate and Austin Barnes on deck, there was certainly an argument to walk Puig and go after Barnes. They didn’t do that, though, and Nathan Eovaldi did his job as it was asked of him. He got a ground ball that could have and should have ended the game. Kinsler had no reason to rush as much as he did, and that led to the bad throw and the run. He definitely had time to settle down and finish the play cleanly. Plus, even if you don’t think that’s true, and even if he didn’t think that, he should have eaten the ball. Whichever way you slice it, that run is on Kinsler.
World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
  • Speaking of Eovaldi, good lord that was maybe the most impressive performance on the mound I can remember. This could very well be a lack of sleep and recency bias speaking, but this might beat Schilling’s ALCS Game 6. To come back after two straight games and throw like that without ever losing his stuff is just...there are no words. As an impending free agent I’m sure his agent was screaming by the time he took the mound for his fifth inning of work, but Eovaldi gutted this one out. There’s something to be said about motivating your teammate with performance on the field. If that’s a thing, he did it here. The rest of this team is going to make sure that performance doesn’t go unrewarded. He got the loss next to his name in this game, but he deserves nothing but admiration.
  • Speaking of admirable and giving yourself up for your team.....Eduardo Núñez was on another level in this game. He’s already been playing hurt all year long, and he destroyed himself in this game. He was up-ended by the Dodgers catcher; he viciously dove into first base for what was at the time the go-ahead run; he dove into the stands to catch a pop up in foul ground; he tripped over the mound to make another catch. I’m legitimately concerned for Núñez’ ability to move at this point, but he made some crucial plays in this game. For all of the hate he’s garnered this year, he deserves even more appreciation for this performance alone.
  • Mookie Betts had a truly terrible game. The offense was struggling to get anything going all night long, and he was a big part of that. He’s clearly the biggest star on the team, and when they are scuffling like this they need the star to take over. He looked totally lost at the plate this entire game, and it led to this massive scoring drought. Betts was the most obvious no-show in the lineup, but really the entire top of the lineup was a disaster. The numbers are skewed because the pitchers occupied a top spot for part of this game, but the top four spots in Boston’s lineup went 0-28 in this game. That can’t happen.
  • It’s easy to say in hindsight, but pinch running for J.D. Martinez in the tenth seemed like a bad move at the time and worked out horribly. Kinsler almost got himself thrown out twice after coming in to run, then did get himself thrown out at the plate. To be fair to Kinsler on that last one, he had to go for the run on the sacrifice fly and he was just beaten by a strong throw. Still, taking Martinez’ bat out of the lineup for this game was brutal.
  • Eovaldi was clearly the big story on the pitching staff in this game, but the rest of the pitchers did well too. Rick Porcello made one really bad mistake to Joc Pederson that gave the Dodgers their first run, but other than that it was a strong night on the mound for the starter. Then, between Porcello and Eovaldi, the rest of the bullpen minus Drew Pomeranz pitched in 6 13 scoreless innings to give the Red Sox a chance to come back and eventually take the lead. (Only to see it squandered by Kinsler, of course.)
World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
  • Alex Cora is going to take a lot of heat for his managing in this game, and that comes with the territory. He went all-out to win this game, which is something I advocated for before the game started. It didn’t work out, and now he has to patch together a Game Four to try and avoid this series being tied up. I think he did the right things here more often than not, but sometimes it doesn’t go the way you plan. What he does next is going to be fascinating to watch and a true test of his nearly untouchable managerial skills he’s displayed so far this postseason.
  • This is ultimately inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, but John Smoltz is brutal in the booth. In the future, perhaps the highest-profile baseball games should be called by people who enjoy baseball. Just my opinion.
  • A quick look ahead to tomorrow: I’d start Eduardo Rodriguez. Chris Sale scares me on short rest at this point given how he’s looked this postseason, and Drew Pomeranz just scares me in general. Other than Eovaldi the bullpen really wasn’t that taxed in this game, so they can piece together a bullpen game if they can get three or four solid innings from Rodriguez. Really, though, the key is going to be getting some offense going.