|10.10.13 at 2:34 pm ET|
The same 25 who were asked to beat the Rays will also be asked to be the A’s or Tigers.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said that he did “not anticipate any roster changes” from the group that beat the Rays in four games in the American League Division Series as his team readies for the best-of-seven American League Championship Series. He said that there was “a review” of the roster, but that in the absence of any injury that might change the availability of players for the second round, there was “nothing glaring” that needed to be addressed through a roster change. Of course, given that the most common change from the five-game Division Series format to the best-of-seven Championship Series format is typically a shift from 10 to 11 pitchers, the fact that the Sox had already opted to carry 11 pitchers in the Division Series may have limited the need for change.
Other notes from Farrell’s press conference on Thursday afternoon, prior to a team workout:
– As he said on WEEI on Wednesday, Farrell reiterated that Jon Lester will start Game 1 of the ALCS regardless of opponent, but that the team will wait to see who wins Game 5 between the Tigers and Athletics before determining the alignment of the rest of its rotation.
– On how he viewed the potential difference in facing the Tigers or Athletics: “Four and a half hours less travel to one,” Farrell joked, referring to the distinction between the cross-country flight to Oakland and the shorter jaunt to Detroit. He suggested that both teams feature “very good lineups,” though noted that Oakland tends to feature a roster with which they more often match up based on the opposing starter and pitcher, while Detroit features a more set lineup structure.
“Either team we play, this is going to be a steep challenge,” Farrell said.
– Farrell said that the Sox are “certainly open” to the idea of using one of their four playoff starters (Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz or Jake Peavy) out of the bullpen, in a fashion similar to the way that the Tigers aggressively employed Game 1 starter Max Scherzer in Game 4 of the ALDS. He specifically cited Peavy as a pitcher who seemed open to the possibility.
“Certainly open-minded to it, yes,” Farrell said of the possibility of using starters out of the bullpen. “But it’s going to be dependent on usage of guys leading up to that. If we get into an extra-inning game, who’s available the next day, all those things we would typically look at in the regular season. But we’re certainly open to it. And I know if you were to ask Jake Peavy, he would thrive on the opportunity coming out of the bullpen.” Read the rest of this entry »
|10.10.13 at 1:19 pm ET|
Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday morning to discuss the Red Sox’ ALDS-clinching win over the Rays on Tuesday, as well as the team’s upcoming opponent, whether it be the Athletics or the Tigers, in the ALCS.
The Red Sox advanced to the ALCS on Tuesday night after defeating the Rays in four games. Game 4 was a nail-biter, as the Sox rallied from a one-run defect in the seventh inning, scoring three runs over the final three innings to win the game 3-1.
“It was unbelievable, unbelievable game, unbelievable series. Just a tremendous game, a dogfight, like we had expected,” Breslow said. “Great start by [Jake] Peavy, big at-bats to grind through a number of relievers that were run out there, and finally getting on the board late and taking the lead. You don’t always think about what your reaction is going to be … so obviously I was incredibly ecstatic.”
A case could be made that Breslow was the MVP of Game 4, as the left-hander went 1 2/3 innings and struck out the first four batters he faced, including the potent middle of the Rays lineup in Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist and Desmond Jennings.
Breslow said he had no indication that he would pitch for almost two innings in the game, and he noted that he simply kept trying to locate his pitches away from Tampa’s hitters.
“We didn’t talk about anything, although obviously going out there with the intentions of throwing an inning the night before and only being able to get one out, I was disappointed in the outing. … I think everybody in the bullpen, to a man, takes a lot of pride in going out there and completing whatever the expectation is and getting the ball to the next guy,” Breslow said. “I welcomed the opportunity to expand on the previous night’s outing also; by only having thrown three pitches on Monday night, I felt fresh.
“It’s a pretty impressive group of hitters. … I just felt like being able to keep the ball down and away and kind of have the ball running away from the barrel of the bat was probably the most advantageous pitch that I could come up with, and when I was doing that and starting to kind of recognize that guys were starting to lean out over the plate, I saw an opening to come in and take a chance or two, coming in with a cutter or a slider.”
Looking ahead to Boston’s next playoff opponent, Breslow said that the players appear to be split on whether they would rather face the A’s or the Tigers.
“Like I said, I haven’t had too many discussions with guys about who we would prefer to play, and maybe the overhearing that I have done seems to be pretty split,” Breslow said. “I think we recognize the strengths of both teams. Detroit, when healthy, has that formidable lineup. Oakland’s got a great pitching staff. I feel like Oakland reminds me a lot of the Red Sox team in that from top to bottom, they get contributions from everybody on that roster. … Detroit is a team with those superstar household names, so I don’t know that you want to necessarily kind of handicap your odds against either team, because I think our objective is to go out there and beat whoever we’re going to play.”
|10.10.13 at 10:29 am ET|
While the Tigers and Athletics will trade haymakers Thursday night in a winner-take-all Game 5 of the American League Division Series, the Red Sox will be watching — very, very comfortably after a Thursday afternoon workout meant to keep the team sharp as it waits to see who it will confront in Fenway Park on Saturday for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
So which opponent represents the most daunting for the Sox? Which is the best matchup?
Both clubs held their own in the regular season against the Sox, with Detroit winning the season series and Oakland splitting a half-dozen contests with the Sox. But the Sox won home series against both clubs, underscoring the significance of their home-field advantage — particularly at a time when they will be enjoying several days on the home front, while the winner of Thursday night’s game must fly cross-country at the conclusion of a somewhat grueling ALDS.
Where might the Red Sox’ rooting interests lie (aside from in the possibility that the enmity between Grant Balfour and Victor Martinez will go nuclear)? Here’s a look at how the two teams match up against the Sox — with an opportunity for you to weigh in on which team you think represents the better matchup for the Sox at the end:
vs. Red Sox in ’13: 4-3 (one of four teams with a winning record against Boston)
Reasons why Sox should fear Tigers:
– The pitching staff led the American League with 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings, with the team’s starters featuring the sort of high-octane stuff and ability to attack the strike zone (an AL-leading 3.1 strikeouts per walk) that have given a swing-and-miss-prone team issues.
– The Tigers feature a strong lineup from top to bottom, receiving production that was roughly league average or better at every position on the field during the regular season.
– The Tigers lineup has enjoyed tremendous success against Game 1 starter Jon Lester.
Reasons why Sox shouldn’t fear Tigers:
– They finished a very meh 25-24 in their last 49 games.
– Miguel Cabrera is a shell of himself. He’s 4-for-16 in the series, with all of his hits being singles, and the Athletics have been unafraid to attack him, as evidenced by the fact that the slugger does not have a single walk in his 16 plate appearances. If he doesn’t collect an extra-base hit in Game 5, then this year’s ALDS will become the first time in eight career postseason series that he failed to collect a multi-base knock. With Prince Fielder having been handled by the Sox starters, there’s reason for the Sox to believe that they can control Detroit’s offense.
– Their bullpen remains a bit of a mess. The Tigers blew a total of 16 saves, with seven of those coming in the last two months of the year, with a .252/.329/.415 line and 55 extra-base hits allowed in 615 plate appearances in that strange — worse than the .243/.317/.375 line that the team’s bullpen had in the first four months of the season, before the acquisition of reliever Jose Veras.
|10.10.13 at 9:56 am ET|
Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to discuss the Red Sox’ postseason run and their upcoming American League Championship Series matchup against either the Athletics or the Tigers.
The Red Sox eliminated the Rays in four games in the American League Division Series, advancing to the ALCS for the fifth time in the last 11 seasons. The series is set to kick off on Saturday, as Boston will play host to Game 1 at Fenway Park.
Lucchino would not bite when asked which team he would rather face in the best-of-seven series.
“I can’t speak for others, I don’t think everyone does have a preference. I’m agnostic, I am going to sit back and wait. We’ll be there on Saturday and we’ll welcome anyone who comes in to play us and has the right to play us in Fenway on Saturday,” Lucchino said. “I just haven’t done that level of analysis on the individual teams that we may be playing against. … Truthfully, these are both talented, pesky, difficult teams. You don’t get to be in baseball’s final four unless you are a talented team for whom a lot of things have gone right. So, we will see what we will see, but you won’t get a prediction from me or a preference from me as to which team I would rather play.”
While the Sox have had an incredible turnaround season and look impressive so far in October, Lucchino said that he is still worried about the competition that the Sox will face in order make it back to the World Series for the first time since 2007.
“I think the pitching of the teams that we’re going to face, and the style of the teams that we may face. The style of the Oakland team, they’re a loose bunch of guys who seem to have … some terrific young pitching. Look at Detroit, and you see a team that’s hitting on all cylinders. It has every element of the baseball menu in place. I worry about both of these teams,” Lucchino said. “I think these are very formidable opponents, and you add that into the uncertainty to the game and the string of good luck we’ve had and you can say there are plenty of reasons to worry, but that’s not the emotion that I want to talk about today.
“The sense of pride, the sense of accomplishment, this sort of magic that this team has brought about and the good will, the good feeling, that it’s engendered in this entire region and dear I say in the entire nation.”
On whether the start times for the ALCS have been set: “Well, that’s a very frustrating topic. We spent a lot of time on the phone yesterday with Major League Baseball because these games are organized by [MLB], they consider them their game, not our game. We’re just participants in the MLB process that is the league championship series. … The last word I got last night is that we would be playing at 8 o’clock on Sunday and the probabilities are that we’re going to be playing at 7:30 on Saturday.”
On how far along the the Red Sox “redemption tour” is: “We thought that the first step we took from the apparition, as I’d think of it, the end of 2011 and the 2012 season, that 13-month period, I hope was an apparition for our ownership and I hope for our organization. This is the fifth, I believe, ALCS we’ve been in in 12 years. We’re proud that we’re back to this position, but we knew that we would be better this year. All of our internal projections and internal analysis suggested that this is going to be a better team, but no one could predict that this kind of magic could come together and this team can produce as much as it has.”
On the idea that hoping for a postseason berth seemed ridiculous at the start of the 2013 season: “It started last year with the Dodger transaction, and you’ve got to give John [Henry] and Tom [Werner] a bunch of credit for their participation in that transaction, and of course Ben [Cherington], he used that money brilliantly and deployed it into seven different acquisitions this offseason that made this team not only better but much more appealing, much more of a team … That was a goal, but that’s a very hard thing to accomplish as well.”
|10.10.13 at 9:47 am ET|
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to talk about the MLB playoffs and the Red Sox’ bounceback season.
Rosenthal acknowledged he didn’t see this turnaround coming from the Red Sox based on their offseason moves.
“What I thought was that they plugged some holes, but none of the guys that they got was that good,” Rosenthal said. “It turns out that virtually all of them performed at a high level this year — maybe at the extreme end of their performance … and beyond that, of course, the mix has been so good.”
Added Rosenthal: “I didn’t think that they were going to get enough performance out of these guys — sheer baseball performance. But they have, and it’s worked out incredibly well.”
The improved chemistry in the clubhouse has been targeted as a key reason for Boston’s success.
“Had they not performed at this level and been such a quality team, then all of that intangible stuff goes away,” Rosenthal said. “What is impressive about this, and what you cannot measure, is the self-policing that goes on in that club to get guys to play the right way. And that’s if, for instance, if a guy doesn’t run hard to first base, or if a guy doesn’t take an extra base, the other players are there saying, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ That’s a great quality. It seems that they have it, it seems that they’ve had it all season. It’s one of the things in watching them I really admire.
“I don’t know — I’m not in Boston — if the town has taken to the team in a way that you would expect. It doesn’t seem to me from the outside that it has. But my gosh, this team to me is as likable as last year’s team was unlikable.”
Jacoby Ellsbury is slated to become a free agent after the season, and his stock is rising with his stellar postseason performance. Asked to predict where Ellsbury will end up, Rosenthal said: “I’m going Seattle, six or seven times 21 [million dollars].”
|10.09.13 at 10:54 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell, in his weekly interview on WEEI’s Salk & Holley show, said that left-hander Jon Lester will “probably lead off” as the Sox’ Game 1 starter in the American League Championship Series, the same spot he occupied in the American League Division Series against the Rays when he allowed two runs on three hits in seven innings for a win. However, Farrell suggested that the Sox were still deciding the order of the potential rotation behind Lester, with the identity of the team’s ALCS opponent — the Tigers or Athletics — leaving some question about who will start at home in Game 2 and who will pitch after that.
“After we go from [Lester], I think we’ll take a look at things as we move forward,” Farrell said.
While the Red Sox used John Lackey as their Game 2 starter in the first round due to his considerable success at home (6-3, 2.47 ERA at Fenway; 4-10, 4.48 ERA on the road), Farrell noted that the fact that Lackey has enjoyed a long track record of strong performances in Oakland (seven innings and two runs in a win this year; 9-5, 2.83 ERA in O.co Coliseum in 18 career starts) could be a factor in deciding how to deploy the starters in the next round of the playoffs. (Lackey is 4-1 with a 3.83 ERA in six career starts in Detroit.)
To listen to the complete interview, click here.
|10.09.13 at 12:49 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney appeared on Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox’s ALDS win over the Rays, and Boston’s opponent in the ALCS.
The Sox beat the Rays, 3-1, in Game 4 at Tropicana on Tuesday night to clinch the series. The Red Sox now await the winner of Thursday’s Game 5 of the Athletics-Tigers series.
“If you’re the Red Sox, you don’t want to play Oakland, because I think Detroit, while they have the great starting pitching, there are so many flaws,” Olney said.
Among those flaws is a nagging injury for star third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Last season’s AL MVP and Triple Crown winner has deviated from his otherworldly form in the last few weeks because of groin and abdominal injuries. He has just four singles and zero walks in 16 plate appearances this postseason, and two extra base hits since Aug. 26.
“His situation completely changes the lineup,” Olney said. “I was having some discussions with some scouts about this yesterday and they were talking about how this team is basically built to bash, they count on home run hitters and they count on extra-base hits.”
The Red Sox won a wild game in Tampa Bay that featured Rays manager Joe Maddon calling on his bullpen eight times because starter Jeremy Hellickson could not escape the second inning.
Boston trailed 1-0 entering the seventh inning, and with one out Red Sox manager John Farrell opted to pinch-hit Xander Bogaerts for Stephen Drew. Bogaerts jumpstarted the two-run inning with a walk, and scored the tying run. Farrell previously had faced scrutiny for not pinch-hitting Bogaerts for the struggling Drew vs. a lefty late in Game 3.
“Maybe after watching Drew struggle in Game 3, and then watching his at-bats that were futile early in Game 4, John may have changed his mind,” Olney said. “After the game, when Joe Maddon talked about this game, he talked about the Bogaerts walk as being the turning point in the whole night.”
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