Monthly Archives: October 2013

Terse Predictions: 2013 World Series Game 6, St. Louis @ Boston

Opportunities like the one in front of the Red Sox going into World Series Game 6 at Fenway Park tonight happen pretty rarely. Trying to predict how things will unfold is a fool’s errand. So here are some foolhardy forecasts.

1. Multiple members of the Boston infield will work 10+ pitch at-bats against Michael Wacha.

2. Jacoby Ellsbury will record at least one stolen base.

3. John Lackey will throw first-pitch strikes to five batters the first time through the order and six batters during the second turn through the order.

4. David Ortiz will swing at a total of just three pitches tonight.

5. Papi will put only one of those pitches in play.

6. The game will be decided by more than three runs.

7. Xander Bogaerts pitches seen: 22

8. Koji Uehara pitches thrown: 14

9. Carlos Martinez pitches thrown: 26

Trevor Rosenthal pitches thrown: 19

Is going to release day-of-game bleacher seats for Game 6 of the World Series?

World Series Game 6 ticket map

In light of the record-setting prices being paid for tickets to tonight’s game, we would hope that this is just some sick tease.

But let it be known that the ticket window on the site was still allowing searches for scattered $125.00 bleacher seats as of noon today. The team typically releases a handful of day-of-game tickets for home games at Fenway. But, really, this can’t make the people who camped out on Landsdowne St. for two straight nights feel very good.

Anyway, Red Sox fans not planning on seeing about a girl later tonight might as well spend the rest of the afternoon submitting requests for scattered seats like a lone traveler at sea in some sad ripoff of a Winslow Homer painting, awaiting both that directive gust of wind that never seems to come and the arrival of 8:07 p.m. EST.

Terse Predictions: 2013 World Series Game 5, Boston @ St. Louis

The 2013 World Series is tied two games apiece heading into Monday night’s Game 5. Some unnecessarily specific, under-explained predictions:

1. Jon Lester and Adam Wainwright will each pitch exactly six innings.

2. One starting pitcher is going to strike out twice as many batters as the other starter.

3. Both starters will walk multiple batters.

4. Lester will hit a single off Wainwright.

5. Both starters will hold the opposing offense scoreless during the first turn through the batting order.

6. Koji Uehara will record an out(s) in an inning other than the 9th.

7. Stephen Drew will hit a double in the game.

8. Cards closer Trevor Rosenthal will record a total of three outs.

Terse Predictions: 2013 World Series Game 4, Boston @ St. Louis

In the wake of The Obstruction Call that ended Game 3, some existentially meaningless thoughts about what will happen during tonight’s baseball game.

1. Clay Buchholz will pitch less than five innings.

2. Lance Lynn will pitch exactly five innings.

3. The margin of victory for the winning team will be three runs or more.

4. Dustin Pedroia will have two extra-base hits.

5. Carlos Beltran will hit a home run off Buchholz.

6. Koji Uehara will record more than three outs.

7. Craig Breslow will record two outs.

8. There will be a total of two errors in the game.

Terse Predictions: 2013 World Series Game 3, Boston @ St. Louis

Probably tragically inaccurate forecasts as the Red Sox and Cardinals meet tonight at Busch Stadium for a pivotal swing game with the 2013 World Series knotted up at one win apiece.

1. The sloppy defense in the first two games is contagious. Each team will commit at least one error in Game 3.

2. Boston will have five runners LOB in the first three innings.

3. Jake Peavy will give up at least one run in the first two innings.

4. Peavy will lay down one successful bunt in the ballgame.

5. St. Louis starter Joe Kelly will throw less than 90 pitches.

6. A total of three home runs will be hit in the ballgame.

7. Will Middlebrooks will double sometime in the later innings.

8. Quintin Berry will pinch run but will not steal any bases.

9. Brandon Workman will come into the game before the 8th inning.

10. At least one Red Sox hitter will start and see single-digit pitches overall in the game.

This Week in Boston Baseballing, October 18 – 24

The Red Sox finished off the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS on Saturday night. Shane Victorino was the hero as he hit a grand slam to seal the series in six games. The 2013 World Series got off to a swimming start for the Sox at Fenway Park on Wednesday night thanks to timely hitting by Mike Napoli, a shutdown start by Jon Lester and shoddy defense from the Cardinals infield. Will Leitch probably summed it up best on Sports on Earth by saying “You half expected Jeff Suppan to pinch-run.”

It was Boston’s turn to bumblefuck away the ballgame in Game 2 last night. The key gaffe and goat status belongs to reliever Craig Breslow. Unfortunately, Sox fans will have a hard time erasing this disturbing image from their heads until around 8:07 p.m. Saturday night.

Just hold the fucking ball, Breslow!

Just hold the fucking ball, Breslow!

Sequentiality and the 2013 World Series
Game 2 last night came down to the “sequencing” argument that analysts have talked about quite a bit lately when explaining St. Louis’ success this season. The whole concept may seem overstated and simplistic. But last night’s game served as an important case in point that when pivotal moments occur for a given team is as important as how many pivotal moments occur.

Starters John Lackey and Michael Wacha were essentially equals in their effectiveness. Lackey gave up two extra hits but Wacha walked two extra batters while giving up two extra base hits – a double and a homer. Lackey’s only extra bagger allowed was a leadoff triple. However, while Boston’s bottom-line offensive production was arguably better than St. Louis’ overall, it was bunched into the first six innings. Red Sox hitters were shut down by the Cardinals’ fantastic tandem of young relievers, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal. The Cards made their opportunities count – mainly by accumulating most of their success late in Lackey’s outing and, unfortunately for Breslow, immediately upon the Boston starter’s exit.

As Gordon Edes writes, St. Louis forced the issue at the perfect moment and it paid off:

Opponents stole one base in four attempts against Breslow this season; they doubled that total Thursday night when pinch-runner Pete Kozma and Jon Jay executed a double steal, even though Kozma all but telegraphed their intentions a couple of pitches earlier. They were helped when Saltalamacchia didn’t grab the ball cleanly from behind the plate.

Call it a triumph of advance scouting, the Cardinals apparently detecting something that suggested success if they tried running on Breslow.

Breslow was clearly shaken and the action likely contributed to his untimely throwing error. Boston, by contrast, was in a lesser position to capitalize on second baseman Matt Carpenter’s error in the 8th inning with Martinez bringing his A-game last night. That Ortiz’s homer came with a man on base was a stroke of good fortune. But faced with going down 2-0 heading home for Game 3, St. Louis simply created its own luck more effectively.

David Ortiz Homers in Second Straight World Series Game
Big Papi put on a perfect swing to drive a pitch on the outer half of the plate over the left-field wall. What else is there to say about this guy?

Ortiz HR Game 2

The Jonny Gomes vs. Daniel Nava Debate Continues
John Farrell cited “momentum” in explaining his decision to start Jonny Gomes in the first two games of the World Series. Gomes did little to vindicate Farrell aside from making a nice diving catch early in Game 1. Going into the series the manager’s loyalty to Gomes over Daniel Nava was already looking curious. As Dave Cameron pointed out on ESPN:

Gomes can’t even claim the hot hand advantage, as he has hit just .200/.259/.280 in the postseason, not a huge surprise considering he’s being asked to face elite right-handed pitchers, a role he’s just not made for. Gomes might be an intense personality whose energy sparks his teammates, but he can yell from the dugouts steps and inspire his teammates by encouraging them between innings.

Meanwhile, Nava likely dispelled any notion that perhaps he’s banged up by hitting a pinch-hit double Wednesday night. Unless something changes, it sounds like Nava is finally going to get his chance to start in Game 3. It would be nice to see Farrell give Nava the same leeway as he gave Gomes. But, unfortunately, it wouldn’t be a surprise if its Gomes again starting in Game 4 if Nava goes hitless on Saturday.

Clay Buchholz Gets Pushed to Game 4
With Boston clinging to hopes he can eek out one more effective start this year, the right-hander’s injury-plagued 2013 looks to be catching up with him. The Red Sox are likely to have a short leash on Buchholz Sunday night even if he shows early effectiveness. Meanwhile, St. Louis has yet to announce its starter, making Game 4 look like it has the potential to have an ugly start and turn into a dreaded “bullpen game.”

Koji Threw Three Curveballs All Season
A parting thought: FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan noted an interesting outlier pitch in Koji Uehara’s repertoire this season. The Sox reliever threw only three pitches all season that could be classified as curveballs.

But he hasn’t thrown it once since July. Even though, in that third time, the curve worked. Maybe Uehara came to realize a curve wouldn’t be necessary. Maybe he still didn’t trust it, recalling the first two experiences. Or maybe Uehara’s still sitting on this, just waiting to flash it again in the World Series when the stakes are at their highest. Last year, Sergio Romo froze Miguel Cabrera with an elevated fastball. Might this be the year that Uehara freezes Carlos Beltran with a two-strike curve? I wouldn’t count on that, because Uehara’s already got his weapons. But you have to wonder about this one, because you know it’s in there somewhere. Odds are that we aren’t going to see it this October. But odds also were that we weren’t going to see it this season.

Enough odd things have already happened in the 2013 World Series that all we can safely say is you just never know…

Terse Predictions: World Series Game 2, St. Louis @ Boston

Knee jerk, reactionary, non-replay-eligible thoughts on what will happen in Game 2 of the World Series tonight at Fenway Park.

1. Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma will cleanly record an out in the first inning and receive one of the loudest mock cheers from the Fenway crowd in recent memory.

2. The margin of victory will be two runs.

3. John Lackey will not finish the 7th inning.

4. Lackey’s average fastball velocity over the first three innings will be 94 mph.

5. During the team’s first turn through the order, three Red Sox batters will swing at the first pitch.

6. Shane Victorino will bat right-handed and left-handed before the night is over.

7. Jonny Gomes will strike out multiple times against Michael Wacha.

8. Michael Wacha’s total pitches thrown: 110

9. John Lackey’s total pitches thrown: 95

10. Koji Uehara’s total pitches thrown: 20

Terse Predictions: 2013 World Series, Game 1 – St. Louis Cardinals @ Boston Red Sox

Highly specific forecasts for the opening game of the 2013 World Series tonight at Fenway Park.

1. The Cardinals will take a lead against the Red Sox in a World Series game for the first time in 46 years.

2. Adam Wainwright will record six more outs in the game than Jon Lester.

3. Total runs scored in the game will be somewhere between five and eight runs. Overall, only two earned runs will be charged to the starting pitchers.

4. Mike Napoli will strike out thrice, but also add an extra-base hit of some sort.

5. Dustin Pedroia will hit a double off the left-field wall on the first pitch he sees during one of his at-bats against Wainwright.

6. The Red Sox will issue two intentional walks – one to Carlos Beltran and one to Allen Craig.

7. Only one player will record multiple base hits in the game.

8. Xander Bogaerts’ Total Pitches Seen: 17

9. Koji Uehara’s Total Pitches Thrown: 17

10. MLB “Special Consultant” Tony LaRussa’s blood-alcohol content by game-end: .17

Jon Lester and Adam Wainwright’s 2013 Starts in Nipple-Tighteningly Cold Temperatures

Red Sox left-handed ace Jon Lester is slated to pitch tomorrow night against St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright in Game 1 of the 2013 World Series. The weather forecast calls for some chilly fall temperatures that will likely be sub-50 degrees by game time.

Lester has taken the ball three times this season for games in which the game-time temperature (per was under 60⁰ F. All three starts came at Fenway Park, including Game 1 of the ALCS versus Detroit. The overall results have been encouraging.

Lester 2013 cold weather starts

The bad news for Boston is Wainwright was noticeably more dominant in his three “cold” weather starts. However, he has not made such a start since late April. Wainwright’s October starts have all come in warm to hot conditions – 89, 72 and 79 degrees.

Wainwright 2013 cold weather starts

Game 1 certainly has the feeling of a “pitcher’s duel” based on the quality of the starters and the forecasted temperatures. Watching guys with ailing hand/finger injuries foul inside pitches off his hands will be downright painful to watch. Shane Victorino might as well just sever the nerve endings in his right thumb before taking the field.

Anyway, the final score will probably wind up being something like 8-6.

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards Ballot: American League


Ballots for Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) awards are due prior to the first pitch of the World Series tomorrow night at Fenway Park. Fulfilling our duty as part of the BBA, here are Fenway Pastoral’s picks for 2013 American League awards.

AL Manager of the Year (Connie Mack Award) – John Farrell
The decision came down to a couple of first-year managers–Terry Francona and John Farrell. It’s been two years since Francona’s exit from Boston and the subsequent smear campaign that some front office members inexplicably deemed to be somehow necessary. It is worth noting that Tito is the most accomplished manager in Red Sox team history. And somehow his success in Cleveland this year may have been his best managing job yet, once the talent level and payroll he was working with in Boston is taken into consideration. Francona deserves all the accolades that comes his way.

If ballots for this award were due prior to the start of the playoffs, Tito would have been the clear-cut selection. By late September, Farrell had already been getting more than his fair share of credit for the job he did turning the Red Sox around from worst to first in the AL East. But postseason games dictate that managers employ their highest level of intelligence and in-game strategy. Unfortunately for Tito, his playoff run ended after a loss in the one-game Wild Card play-in. So far, Farrell has had 10 games over the ALDS and ALCS to show his true skill. And that’s where he wins out. He has been close to unassailable in his deft bullpen usage, lineup changes (i.e. Bogaerts better late than never) and other various play-calls. He is working with a ton of talent on his roster – more than Francona – but in terms of the sheer act of “managing,” what Farrell has shown this October is just too impressive to overlook.

John Farrell ALCS

AL Top Reliever (Goose Gossage Award) – Koji Uehara
Uehara has had one of the best seasons for a relief pitcher in the history of the game. Koji just did not have many peers in other AL bullpens heading into October. After taking over the reigns as closer, Koji took his dominance to a new level. By September, every time Uehara threw the first pitch of a given appearance that the umpire called a ball, there was a feeling of deflation distantly akin to those Pedro Martinez starts after he gave up the first hit of the game. With that out of the way, since we considered October performance in the manager voting, we did the same here. Even if the home run Uehara allowed to Jose Lobaton in Tampa had ultimately helped to cost Boston the ALDS and he never had the opportunity to win ALCS MVP honors, his regular season resume was way too commanding to lose this “crown.”

AL Top Rookie (Willie Mays Award) – Wil Myers
As Red Sox supporters, it’s important for us to note that it wasn’t exactly Fred Lynn in ‘75 or anything…but the Rays outfielder had a pretty solid rookie season.

AL Top Pitcher (Walter Johnson Award) – Max Scherzer
There wasn’t a ton of difference between Felix Hernandez, Anibel Sanchez and Max Scherzer aside from the number of Wins accumulated. Whether you prefer to lean on FIP or noisier statistics like ERA, the case for Sanchez is very strong. Meanwhile, both Sanchez and Scherzer were nearly unhittable during their first starts against Boston in the ALCS before looking significantly less dominant the second time around. We settled on Scherzer based on the 30-plus extra innings he threw during the regular season and the fact that his bullpen made his postseason stats look a lot worse than the reality.

AL Top Player (Stan Musial Award) – Mike Trout
God bless the BBA for its simple terminology here. Nobody is going to parse the definition of “top” as a modifying adjective, right?