|Ken Rosenthal on D&C: Red Sox, Cardinals ‘are who everybody else wants to be’||10.23.13 at 10:35 am ET|
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to preview the Red Sox-Cardinals World Series.
The team’s face off on Wednesday night at Fenway Park in Game 1, with Jon Lester taking the hill for Boston and Adam Wainwright for St. Louis.
“What I love about this series is simply that these are the two ‘it’ organizations right now,” Rosenthal said. “These two teams are who everybody else wants to be. And the fact that for the first time since 1999 the two teams with the best records in each league have made it to the World Series to me is very special.”
Boston comes off a six-game ALCS triumph over the Tigers. The dagger came in Game 6 when Shane Victorino launched a grand slam with the Red Sox trailing 2-1, to put Boston up for good. It was the second bullpen implosion for Detroit of the series.
“The bullpen, it’s a whole different animal for the Cardinals, because the Tigers bullpen — the whole thought process of the Red Sox that entire series, it didn’t work early, at least the first game, was, ‘Let’s get to their bullpen, and good things might happen,’ ” Rosenthal said. “Eventually that is exactly what happened in that series. It’s not going to happen in the same way this series.”
The Detroit bullpen allowed a pair of devastating, late-inning grand slams, the team’s best two hitters did not show up, but the Tigers lasted six games on the strength of their starting pitching. St Louis cannot match Detroit’s top line of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez, but the Cardinals have put together a very solid rotation.
“The Cardinals starters, while not Sanchez, Scherzer and Verlander, are certainly very good,” Rosenthal said. “Wainwright is outstanding, [Michael] Wacha is really good, and whoever else they throw will be someone who has a high-octane arm.”
St Louis features an offense that’s capable of producing from top to bottom. Outfielders Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday provide the pop, while second baseman Matt Carpenter, and catcher Yadier Molina were arguably the best players at their positions in MLB this season.
“I also believe that the Cardinals have, right now, a better offense than the Tigers did, given [Miguel] Cabrera’s injury and [Prince] Fielder’s struggles,” Rosenthal said. “The Cardinals are a much more balanced type of offense, I don’t expect them to go into these kind of funks and slumps we saw.”
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Tigers ALCS matchups: Jon Lester vs. Anibal Sanchez||10.17.13 at 10:01 am ET|
The Red Sox look to regain control of the American League Championship Series on Thursday night, as Jon Lester and the Sox will face off against Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers in Game 5 of the ALCS at Comerica Park.
After three straight close games that were decided by only one run, Game 4 finally featured some offense from both teams, as the Tigers scored seven runs off of Boston starter Jake Peavy. The Boston bats also finally made an appearance, as the Sox recorded 12 hits in the contest.
Despite collecting as many hits in Game 4 as they did in Games 1-3 combined, the Sox only managed to score three runs, thanks in large part to the team going 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position. By the time the game had ended and the Tigers secured the 7-3 victory, Boston had stranded 10 men on base.
The Sox offense will hope to score more runs on Thursday in support of Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA), who did not receive any help from the offense during his first ALCS start on Saturday in Game 1 of the series.
Lester was great in the series opener, as he only allowed one run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings. Lester has proven himself in October, as he holds a career record of 3-4 with a 2.41 ERA in 10 postseason games.
Despite Lester’s strong performance, Sanchez, the starter for Detroit in Game 1, was just a little bit better. Sanchez held the Red Sox hitless through six innings, as the Tigers took Game 1 by a score of 1-0. The Boston offense was nowhere to be found in the contest, as the Sox collected their first hit of the game with one out in the ninth inning.
“Whether it was Sanchez or every guy they brought out of the bullpen, it was power stuff,” Boston manager John Farrell said after the game. “They executed well. But there might have been a couple of pitches that were pitchers’ pitches that seemed to go against us.”
Sanchez (14-8, 2.57 ERA) showed in his Game 1 start just exactly why he led the American League in ERA this season, as he kept the potent Sox lineup off balance for six strong innings.
It was a bit of an odd start for Sanchez, as the former Sox prospect did not allow a hit and struck out 12 but also walked six.
|Buster Olney on M&M: Doug Fister ‘incredibly underrated’||10.16.13 at 1:45 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the Red Sox’ win on Tuesday and the pitcher they’ll face in Game 4 of the ALCS.
The Red Sox face Doug Fister on Wednesday at Comerica Park, with a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Boston has struggled this series against Tigers starters, recording 35 strikeouts and only two earned runs on six hits over 21 innings.
Fister brings less firepower than the previous three starters (Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander), as he sports just a 6.9 K/9 ratio, despite his solid 3.67 ERA.
“I think Fister is incredibly underrated,” Olney said. “But I’m sure the Red Sox are happy that it’s a different type of guy, because at the very least, unlike Sanchez, unlike Scherzer, unlike Verlander, he doesn’t go into it where you’re basically assuming you’re going to have 20 missed swings and you’re going to have a bunch of strikeouts. At least they have a better chance of putting the ball in play.”
The offensive issues don’t just exist in Boston. The Cardinals entered Tuesday’s NLDS Game 4 against the Dodgers batting just .134 in the first three games. Olney credits the domination in pitching partly to the cast of top-end starters employed by the four remaining teams, but also some of the scouting advances pitchers have gained in terms of determining the weaknesses of their opponents.
“I think a classic case of that was last night, when Miguel Cabrera comes up to the plate and John Farrell chooses to have [Junichi] Tazawa pitch to him because he has the information that Cabrera is struggling on pitches on the outer half of the plate, and they just went back to it over and over and over and over again,” Olney said.
Boston offset its lack of offense with a dominant pitching performance by John Lackey to earn the 1-0 Game 3 win. Lackey threw 6 2/3 shutout innings, allowing only four hits and zero walks while striking out eight. After Detroit rapped out a couple of base hits in the first inning, Lackey and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia changed their approach.
“They went right to the concept of pitching backwards, rather than starting off with the fastball,” Olney said. “You have to give credit to he and Saltalamacchia for changing so quickly after they saw what the Tigers were doing.”
Jake Peavy has been a major leaguer for 12 years, during which time he’s won 132 games, pitched nearly 2,000 innings, struck out nearly 2,000 batters and posted a career 3.51 ERA.
But for as much success as Peavy has experienced in his career, he only has three postseason starts under his belt, and for the first time, he’ll make a start in a championship series round when he faces off against Doug Fister and the Tigers in Game 4 of the ALCS at Comerica Park on Wednesday. Boston leads the best of seven series 2-1.
Peavy’s third career postseason start came on Oct. 8 in the Red Sox’s Game 4 ALDS win against the Rays. He lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed just one run on five hits and struck out three at Tropicana Field. Peavy (12-5, 4.17 ERA) exited the game with Boston trailing 1-0, and his pitch count at just 74, but the Red Sox came back to win, and clinch the series.
“Jake, on a normal situation, we’re probably having a fist fight on the mound right there,” manager John Farrell said after the game about pulling Peavy during the sixth inning. “Our starters recognize the time of the year it is, the importance of every out, the importance of every matchup.”
Boston acquired Peavy from the White Sox on July 30 in a three-team trade that sent shortstop Jose Iglesias to Detroit. Peavy improved his ERA from 4.28 with Chicago to 4.04 with Boston, where he recorded a 4-1 record in 10 starts.
Peavy previously started a pair of postseason games in 2005 and 2006 as a member of the Padres. He had immense success in his eight years with San Diego, but not in the postseason. In two starts and 9 2/3 innings (both against the Cardinals, in the divisional series round), he allowed 13 earned runs and 23 hits plus walks.
Peavy faced the Tigers once this season, in his last outing as a member of the White Sox. He earned a win in Chicago’s 7-4 victory on July 25. Peavy allowed four runs in seven innings, and struck out seven batters.
|No regrets from Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez: ‘It’s not about throwing a no-hitter’||10.13.13 at 2:30 am ET|
Six innings and 116 pitches into his night at Fenway Park, even Anibal Sanchez had to admit: He did what he set out to do.
Yes, the right-hander had held the Red Sox hitless through that point, and yes, he had struck out 12 Boston batters in the process, but given his high pitch count — boosted by six walks — and Detroit’s well-rested bullpen, there were bigger rewards at stake than individual glory.
“[Tigers manager Jim Leyland] told me that my job is done. I said, ‘Yeah,’” Sanchez said. “Because I have got a lot of pitches. So I didn’t want to rush back just because we had a no-hitter. I think they needed to bring some fresh arms to get some innings quickly, and get the team — get the win, which is what we did today.”
Indeed, four Tiger relievers combined to pitch the final three innings, preserving the 1-0 lead Sanchez departed with and getting Detroit the win in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. The Red Sox remained without a hit until there was one out in the bottom of the ninth when Daniel Nava lined a single to center off of right-handed closer Joaquin Benoit.
It was a big bounce-back game for Sanchez, who was lit up to the tune of six runs in 4 1/3 innings by the Athletics in the Division Series last Monday.
Sanchez’ outing was a bit touch-and-go, however. After tossing 51 pitches in just two innings, he settled in for three perfect frames to seemingly get his pitch count at a reasonable 88 through five. The sixth featured Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli and Nava working walks to load the bases with two outs and Stephen Drew due up.
That gave Leyland his first big personnel decision of the night. On one hand, he had relievers warmed up in the bullpen and Sanchez was already well over the 100-pitch mark. On the other, Drew was a career .250 hitter off Sanchez, whose fastballs were still touching 96 mph that inning.
|Saturday’s Red Sox-Tigers ALCS matchups: Jon Lester vs. Anibal Sanchez||10.12.13 at 9:52 am ET|
The Red Sox will kick off their fifth American League Championship Series in the last 11 seasons on Saturday night, as Jon Lester and the Sox will face off against the Tigers and Anibal Sanchez in Game 1 at Fenway Park.
Boston advanced to the ALCS after disposing of the Rays in four games in the American League Division Series. While both Games 3 and 4 of the ALDS were close contests, Boston outscored Tampa 26-12 in the series. The Red Sox trailed in the late innings of Game 4 but were able to erase a one-run deficit in the seventh inning thanks to wild pitch from Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta and an RBI infield single from Shane Victorino. After Boston added an insurance run in the ninth inning, Koji Uehara closed out the game, allowing the Sox to move on to the ALCS for the first time since 2008.
The Tigers advanced to the ALCS after a hard-fought series against the A’s. In the deciding fifth game of the series, Justin Verlander did not allow a run over eight innings while striking out 10 Oakland batters. This is the third straight season in which the Tigers have made it to the ALCS.
Detroit had the edge over Boston during the regular season, winning four of the seven contests. While the Tigers finished the season with 93 wins, they slumped to the finish, accumulating a 25-24 record over their last 49 games of the regular season.
Lester was stellar in Game 1 of the ALDS, allowing only three hits and two earned runs over 7 2/3 innings. Lester has proven track record during the postseason, as he is 3-3 with a 2.54 ERA in seven career playoff games.
“Just being involved in more playoff games at a younger age, you, through experience, learn how to handle these situations,” Lester said after the 12-2 Boston victory. “And a perfect example is today. As long as I kept them close enough, our guys were going to figure out [Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore], and we were able to do that.”
Despite his great postseason numbers, Lester likely is not looking forward to facing Detroit’s potent lineup, as he has had trouble against the Tigers in the past. In seven career starts, Lester is 2-2 with a 4.63 ERA.
|Hot Stove: Agent confirms Anibal Sanchez will return to Tigers for 5 years, $80M||12.14.12 at 10:56 am ET|
Right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez reached agreement to return to the Tigers on a five-year, $80 million contract, his agent told ESPN on Friday morning. Agent Gene Mato confirmed that the free agent will stay in Detroit, following reports a day earlier that Sanchez had a deal with the Cubs for six years and $147 million.
Sanchez, a former Red Sox minor leaguer who was traded by Boston to the Marlins in 2005 along with Hanley Ramirez for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, was shipped from Miami to Detroit shortly before the trade deadline this past July.
In Detroit, Sanchez went 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA and 57 strikeouts against 15 walks in 74 2/3 innings. In seven major league seasons, Sanchez has a 48-51 record with a 3.74 ERA and 733 strikeouts vs. 320 walks in 869 innings.
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Big weeks for Acosta and Welch
- Gary DiSarcina named Baseball America Minor League Manager of the Year
- Red Sox non-tender Ryan Kalish, Andrew Bailey
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Jesus Loya solid at the plate in Mexico
- Help Wanted: Staff Editor, Scouts
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #48: The Slow Season
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Attention shifts to Caribbean, Jerez shining in Venezuela
- Luis Ortega traded to Brewers for reliever Burke Badenhop
- Red Sox re-sign infielder Brandon Snyder
- Cecchini, Ranaudo, Brentz added to 40-man roster