Red Sox guilty of a little too much playoff baseball

20 Comments

The Red Sox could have played this one straight up tonight. Instead, they made concessions to it being a postseason games. Because postseason games are rarely won 12-2 or 7-4.

– In the seventh, with the score tied at 3, the Red Sox used Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa to get three outs. Those are John Farrell’s second and third most trusted relievers, yet they faced two batters apiece in a tie game. As a result, it was the team’s fifth or sixth best reliever, Franklin Morales, who got the ball in the eighth. And while he didn’t necessarily pitch badly — the inning was a calamity all around — he was charged with the go-ahead run after the other fifth or sixth best reliever, Brandon Workman, was called on with a runner on second base.

– In the eighth, David Ortiz was removed for a pinch-runner after drawing a leadoff walk. It was the fourth time he had been on base in four trips. It nearly resulted in disaster, as pinch-runner Quintin Berry should have been called out on his attempted steal of second base. He was declared safe anyway, but he didn’t come around to score. When Ortiz’s spot came up in a tie game in the ninth, Mike Carp hit in his place.

It was the first time since May 8 that Ortiz had been removed for a pinch-runner in the eighth or earlier in a close game.

– In the top of the ninth, with the Red Sox down by one and runners on first and second, Shane Victorino decided to bunt against a wild Fernando Rodney even after Will Middlebrooks walked on five pitches and Jacoby Ellsbury singled on a 2-0 pitch. He continued to bunt even after the first pitch was called a ball. Victorino hit .315/.395/.560 after a 1-0 count this year. Still, he gave himself up. With a big inning potentially there for the taking, the Red Sox scored one run to tie it back up.

– In the bottom of the ninth, closer Koji Uehara took over even though it was a tie game and the Red Sox were playing on the road. Actually, this was totally the right call. It just didn’t work out. Jose Lobaton hit a walkoff homer.

The rest of it, though… there’s not any one thing move cost the Red Sox the game. But they surely would have been better off had they played it the same way they did when they amassed the best record in the American League this year.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

mlb
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
1 Comment

NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.