Monday, December 9, 2013
Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.
Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases
Follow his thoughts on the Boston Celtics and Maine Red Claws on Holding Court
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BOSTON - The Red Sox are disciplined batters. We keep hearing that. And a lesser pitcher will have to throw strikes, or he won't last long.
Saturday night featured a very good pitcher. And while Anibal Sanchez did walk six batters, and only last six innings, he got the Red Sox to do something they rarely are accused of - they chased bad pitches.
Sanchez would fired in 97 mph fastballs, but then go out of the zone with a slider or change-up. Boston's batter could not hold up. Sanchez had 12 strikeouts.
"His slider and his change-up are late," Dustin Pedroia said. "So you have to commit to it and it goes out of the zone. You try to stop, but ... That’s a sign that it’s quality stuff."
Much has been made of John Lackey's better ERA at home than away.
But he has done fine at Comerica Park in his career: 4-1, 3.83.
Conversely, Clay Buchholz has made four starts in Comerica: 1-0, 7.08.
With that in mind, here is the likely Red Sox initial rotation in the ALCS:
Some fans will never like Stephen Drew. Maybe it's because they didn't like his brother, the emotionless J.D. Drew. Or they don't like that he struggles against left-handed pitching. Or maybe it's just because, in comparison, Xander Bogaerts is so fun to like.
Bogaerts had two important walks in Game 4 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay. He was also used as a pinch-runner in Game 3 and scored. He his an exciting player and the Red Sox are giddy about his future.
But Drew remains the starter at shortstop. He not only plays very dependable defense (just not as flashy as say a Jose Iglesias), his OPS (combined on-base and slugging averages) ranks third among American League shortstops. And his personality fits in this clubhouse. He's a grinder who is respected by his teammates.
It is also easy to say Drew will start in the ALCS because neither possible opponent has a left-handed starter.
ST. PETERSBURG — The last time I watched a celebration at Tropicana Field, it was the home team piling onto each other. Meanwhile, the visitors clubhouse could not have cleared out faster. That was the 2008 ALCS.
Tuesday night (into Wednesday morning), the visitors clubhouse was covered in plastic. It didn’t take long for the champagne spray to cover anyone who dared to enter.
Red Sox 3, Rays 1 (the score in Tuesday’s game and in the ALDS). For a recap of the game, see our story.
Two celebrations down (the AL East and now the ALDS).
John Farrell: "That just was an exciting game."
Joe Maddon: "What an interesting, wonderful game to stay solvent in."
Solvent? You do have to give Maddon credit for avoiding cliches.
But it was exciting and interesting. Wonderful? That depends on who you were rooting for.