BOSTON (CBS) – As there will be after any loss, especially in the playoffs, there is plenty of second-guessing going around Boston following the Red Sox’ 5-4 loss to the Rays in Game 3 of the ALDS.
But John Farrell, who will very likely bring home the AL Manager of the Year award for Boston’s amazing turnaround from 2012, is sticking by his decisions.
First, there was Clay Buchholz pitching to Evan Longoria in the bottom of the fifth. Boston added two runs in the top of the frame to give them a 3-0 lead at the time, and Buchholz was looking to escape from another jam. The Rays had two on and two out and first base was open when Longoria stepped to the plate. The Rays’ franchise player was 0-for-2 at that point and Buchholz had struck him out the inning before looking at a change-up.
But on the second pitch of the at-bat, Longoria deposited another Buchholz change-up into the first row of the left field stands, knotting the game up at 3-3.
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Farrell said after the game there was no consideration to walk Longoria.
“No, not to bring the go-ahead run to the plate,” he said. “Clay had popped him out and struck him out on two others change-ups. He got ahead of him 0-1, he tried to throw one down and in on him and it didn’t get in the bottom of the zone as much. But (there was) no consideration of walking him.”
The same goes for his decision not to pinch-hit for Stephen Drew in the top of the eighth. Drew stepped to the plate with two on and two outs with Tampa Bay lefty Jake McGee on the mound. Drew hit just .196 against lefties during the regular season, but Farrell there was “no hesitation” to leave him in.
“McGee has been dominant against right-handed hitters; he’s almost a right-handed reliever because of the strong reverse splits he has,” explained Farrell. “Stephen is a good fastball hitter, and we know McGee is going to come after us with 90-percent fastballs. There was no hesitation to leave Stephen at the plate.”
Drew fouled out to end the inning without Boston plating any runs.
Earlier that inning, Farrell pinch-ran for designated hitter David Ortiz. He inserted the speedy Quintin Berry, who promptly stole second (though replays show he was out) but was left stranded when Drew flied out. An inning later, Mike Carp stepped up in Ortiz’s spot in the order, and struck out looking with the go-ahead run on third.
Farrell said there is always some hesitation to take a bat like Ortiz’s out of the lineup, but he isn’t second-guessing that decision.
“In that situation in the eighth inning, I had a feeling, not knowing if his spot would come around, I didn’t want to miss that situation. Berry does his job and gets the stolen base, unfortunately we didn’t (get him home),” he said. “But no, I don’t second-guess that pinch-run move there.”
Ortiz himself said it was a good move by his manager.
“We got what we were looking for, Berry advanced to second base with no outs,” Ortiz said. “It was a good move in a tie game in the eighth. You don’t see many teams beating up Tampa late in the game. They play really well so you have to try to score runs, as many as you can.”
It’s hard to criticize Farrell for any of these moves, as hindsight is always 20-20. Had Buchholz retired Longoria, there would be no discussion at all and the Red Sox could very well be on their way to the ALCS.
But when you lose a playoff game, there is always going to be some second guessing. Farrell, in his first postseason as a manager, learned that the hard way following his first postseason loss on Monday night, but is sticking by his decisions.
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