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Craig Breslow’s Playoff Blog: ‘I didn’t make pitches’

10.25.13 at 8:36 am ET
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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 also is 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.

Craig Breslow

Craig Breslow

As complicated and complex as this game can be at times, it can also be incredibly simple. If you get a chance to make pitches, you have to make them. And on Thursday, in Game 2 of the World Series, I didn’t.

I was excited for the chance to get into the game. This was the first time I was out there for the series, a milestone I’d anticipated for a long time. To that point in the game — with one out and runners on first and second in the seventh inning, after we’d taken a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth — we’d been executing extremely well.

We were well aware of what Michael Wacha had done this postseason for the Cardinals. Obviously, he’s a tremendously talented guy. But the more times that our lineup saw him, the better production we started getting. That’s kind of been the case with some pretty good starters we’ve run through during the regular season and certainly throughout the postseason. Even if we’re not necessarily doing damage, we’re seeing a lot of pitches and running pitch counts up.

When we took the lead on David Ortiz‘s homer, obviously we would have hoped we would have been able to preserve it. For the most part this postseason, we have. But tonight we didn’t.

We were aware that the Cardinals might attempt a double steal when I entered the game. I knew that they had some guys on base that had some speed. I tried to vary my looks, vary my holds, step off the rubber and do what I could to disrupt their timing. But when Pete Kozma took off for third and John Jay went behind him for second, I gave Jarrod Saltalamacchia a pretty tough pitch to handle.

It was a fastball, and once I started to commit to the plate, I saw that they were going. I tried to give Salty something he can handle, and it ended up being something he had to reach up for. In that case, I need to do a better job of holding runners. Getting to second and third with less than two outs changed the whole inning, including how I’m going to pitch to Daniel Descalso.

In walking Descalso to load the bases, I probably got a little bit ahead of myself and got a little bit quick to the plate. Initially, with a double play still a possibility, we wanted to pound him down and away and then sink the ball in. The approach changed a little bit once they executed the double steal. There were runners on second and third with less than two outs, where a strikeout would have been the best outcome. We threw a couple of breaking balls, and again, I didn’t execute pitches, resulting in a walk.

With Matt Carpenter then up with the bases loaded, I was trying to work away from him. I feel like I executed the pitch that I wanted. I was trying to keep the ball on the ground, but even if I didn’t, if I could get weak contact to the opposite field, especially with how shallow left field is, then I felt like that would be a pretty good outcome. That’s what happened: Descalso popped up to left, but obviously, deep enough to score the run. Jonny Gomes did everything he could to try to prevent the tying run from scoring. In that case, I simply credit the Cardinals’ good, aggressive baserunning with scoring the tying run.

But that’s where things started to unravel a bit. When I got the ball, I looked up and felt like I definitely had a play on Jay as he tried to get to third. I still feel like it was definitely worth making the throw. I just didn’t make a good throw.

That’s not a throw I make too much in games, but I’ve made that throw playing catch in the outfield probably 50 times a day. It’s a play I need to make in that situation. That could have been a big out for us. Obviously I hoped it would have been low enough for Stephen [Drew] to handle, but it wasn’t. As soon as I released it, I knew it would sail on me. I knew it was going to be up and arm side. I didn’t know how much. It’s kind of difficult to gauge distance when you’re back behind the plate. But the throw went into the stands, and so Jay scored the go-ahead run.

Even then, I feel like given the way we’re capable of swinging the bats, limiting the damage is as important as preventing it. Once they scored the third run, I needed to do a better job of preventing them from scoring the fourth run when Carlos Beltran drove in a run with a single. For the Cardinals to take a two-run lead changed everything. It meant we would need to get somebody on base as opposed to having the tying run at the plate. I feel like more times than not, I’ve been able to do what is needed to either prevent or limit damage this season, and I’d like to think that next time I’m perfectly capable of doing so. Tonight I didn’t.

In its simplest form, in black and white, I didn’t make pitches tonight. I’ve not made pitches in other situations. I feel like I need to be aware of what my shortcomings were, to make sure that I can move forward from it. But if given the same situation, I’d like to think the outcome could be better if I execute pitches.

Going forward, I’ll take a look at some of the pitches I made, some of the plays, and think about if I should have done anything differently, if there were any major mechanical problems I need to fix. Beyond that mental review of the outing, I need to take care of myself and get ready physically to pitch again in two days. Certainly, I want the opportunity to go back out there.

I’m sure we’re all eager to get back on the field in St. Louis after this loss. We’ll head out there, and we’ll battle like we have the last two days. This close, back-and-forth game is probably more indicative of the way we thought the series would go than was Game 1. But we know that we’re going to get good starting pitching, our offense will grind out at-bats and if we can get the ball to Koji [Uehara], we can be in good shape. We’re a tough team, a resilient team and, as we’ve done so often, we’ll bounce back.

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