Craig Breslow’s Playoff Blog: The ALCS dogfight continues
|10.16.13 at 11:32 am ET|
Red Sox left-hander Craig Breslow will contribute regularly to this blog throughout his team’s postseason run. In addition to his work on the mound, the eight-year big leaguer is also the founder and executive director of the Strike 3 Foundation, a charitable agency that heightens awareness, mobilizes support, and raises funding for childhood cancer research. To learn more about the Strike 3 Foundation, and its new Play It Forward program, click here.
This game had the feel that it was going to be won or lost on one pitch. We probably weren’t going to string together three, four, five hits in a row to score a run.
Great starting pitching can do that. We showed signs of breaking out two games ago, but we ran into a dominant pitching performance from Justin Verlander. Still, as has been the trend all season, we grinded through at-bats, kept ourselves in the game and put ourselves within striking distance to where a good at-bat, a good swing from Mike Napoli was enough to position us to win.
John Lackey gave us an incredibly gutsy performance when we needed it. He’s such a competitor. You saw John Lackey earlier in his career where he had the same attitude, the same bulldog mentality where, if the game is on the line, I’d put all my confidence in the world behind him. You know he wants the ball, and you know he’s not going to give it up unless someone wrestles it out of his hands.
When John Farrell came out of the dugout to see Lackey on the mound with one out and a runner on first in the seventh inning and didn’t signal for me right away, I thought maybe he was going to see how Lack felt and give him a chance to get through it. Obviously John felt the move was to bring me in to match up. It didn’t work out in that at-bat when I walked Alex Avila, but it worked out in the next one when Omar Infante grounded into a fielder’s choice.
As much as Lack wanted to stay in the game, he was among the first to say, “Good job,” when I got back to the dugout. He’s the first guy to say that now we’re in the postseason, there’s no room for egos. There’s no room for me wanting to get the win or me wanting to get the last out. As long as we win, that’s all that we care about right now. When you have 25 guys who believe that, I think really good things can happen. The time for caring about who’s getting the outs is over.
Along those lines, I probably wasn’t as sharp today as I’ve been in other outings this postseason, but even though I walked a couple of batters, I made a couple of pitches when I needed to and got two outs. Still, it was unsettling to leave a runner on base for Junichi Tazawa, and perhaps even more so when Torii Hunter‘s single put runners on the corners with one out and Miguel Cabrera coming to the plate in the eighth.
The Cabrera at-bat was certainly the most pivotal of the game. We all know what he’s capable of doing and how dangerous his bat can be. We also know that Taz is throwing the ball well, has power stuff and can get a big strikeout when needed. In Game 3, he got it. I don’t know how that situation plays out nine times out of 10 but I know how it played out one of one today.
That we got Cabrera to swing and miss eight times suggests the ability to read swings, the ability to execute pitches that are working, a great job calling pitches by Salty and pitchers executing. The accomplishment is a rarity. We know this. But in a 1-0 game, where every pitch counts, fortunately we were on the right side of all of those aspects of execution today.
It’s the postseason, so all wins are inherently huge. In Game 3, to come out here to Detroit on the road, win the first game, maybe feed off what we started back at Fenway a couple of days ago is significant. This team, however, does a really good job of maintaining objectivity, understanding that yesterday’s game is exactly that, yesterday, and tonight is another challenge.
We’ll come out ready to play, the offense will grind through at-bats, the defense will be solid, and we’ll get a great start from Jake Peavy. Going into tonight, we know it will be another dogfight, but we have all the confidence in the world in our ability to maintain our approach, attitude and identity.
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