The Boston Red Sox have committed 10 errors in 15 postseason games, higher than their rate of 80 in 162 regular-season games; they’ve won 10 of them, which means their winning percentage hasn’t suffered.
Bu their largesse is responsible for most of what success the Cardinals have had in the World Series. The Red Sox committed seven errors in the first four World Series games after just three in their first 10 postseason games (they were error-less in the entire series vs. Tampa Bay; they didn’t commit an error away from Fenway Park this postseason until their sixth game).
Of the 13 runs the Cards have scored, three of them — that’s 23% — have been unearned, and two more scored after Matt Carpenter’s infield single on shortstop Xander Bogaerts’ throw in the seventh inning of Game 3 (had Stephen Drew been at shortstop, it’s likely Carpenter is out. Forget about the double switch. Manager John Farrell’s worst moment of the Series was taking Drew out of the field in a tie game with nothing going offensively).
Between the Red Sox’s fielding and Craig Breslow’s pitching — a large part of that has been more unfortunate than unable — it’s a short stretch to say the Cards would have rarely scored in this Series but for Matt Holliday’s extra-base hits.
If you’re looking for trends in Game 6, see how the Sox are picking up batted balls. Monday’s was the first clean game of this Series for the Sox after making no errors in seven of their first 10 postseason games. They’re 6-2 in postseason games in which they haven’t committed an error, 4-3 in games they have.
The last Game 6 at Fenway Park was in 1975 vs. the Reds. Let’s assume everyone knows what happened — if not, Matt Damon and Robin Williams explain it in Good Will Hunting. Or you can wait for the inevitable shots of Carlton Fisk and Bernie Carbo on Wednesday. It’s worth noting that Game 6 in 1975 went 12 innings and took four hours and one minute to play. Game 1 of the 2013 ALCS, a 1-0 victory for the Tigers, was three innings less and completed in just five less minutes. That’s a lot more commercials and a lot less baseball.
The last time the Red Sox had a 3-2 lead in the World Series, the ball rolled through Bill Buckner’s legs in Game 6 in 1986. Two days later Bruce Hurst failed to do what Jon Lester achieved Monday — become the first Sox lefty since Babe Ruth to win three career Series games, despite taking a 3-0 lead into the sixth inning. Hurst won Game 1 1-0 and Game 5 4-2, but gave up three runs in the sixth inning of Game 7, and the Mets made a loser of the unfortunate Calvin Schiraldi. It was Schiraldi who also lost Game 6. Our crack research department says it’s the only time the same pitcher lost Games 6 and 7 of the same World Series (the Cards’ John Tudor lost Game 6 of the ’87 Series and Game 7 of the ’85 Series; the Yankees’ Joe Page lost Game 6 of the ’47 Series but won Game 7; the Cubs’ Hank Borowy won Game 6 in 12 innings in 1945 with four shutout innings of relief, then gave up five runs in the first two days later and lost Game 7; and the Pirates’ Ray Kremer won Games 6 and 7 vs. the Senators in 1925, the first as a starter, the second in relief).
The last time the Sox had a 3-2 lead in the Series vs. the Cardinals was in 1946, when St. Louis won the final two at home. History hasn’t been any kinder to Johnny Pesky than the Cardinals were.
Coming from 3-2 down in the Series is common, but not on the road. Eight teams have won the last two games at home since the last team did it on the road. The Cards won two of those, as recently as 2011 (Rangers) and in 1982 (Brewers), the Twins two (’87 vs. Cards and ’91 vs. Braves), the Royals vs. the Cards (’85), the Diamondbacks (2001 vs. Yankees) and Angels (2002 vs. Giants) in consecutive years and the Mets in ’86 vs. the Red Sox. The Pirates — you know it’s been a while if it’s the Pirates — are the last team to win Games 6 and 7 on the road, doing so at Baltimore in 1979. The Pirates won the last three games of that Series, holding the Orioles to two runs in the final three games. Pirate closer Kent Tekulve pitched 4.2 innings in the last two games alone to save 4-0 and 4-1 wins. The Cardinals have twice overcome 3-2 deficits on the road, but the last time was 79 years ago. Five teams, plus the ’79 Pirates, have done so: the ’68 Tigers (vs. Cards), ’58 Yankees (vs. Braves), ’52 Yankees (vs. Dodgers), ’34 Cardinals (vs. Tigers) and ’26 Cardinals (vs. Yankees). The last one was most notable for the performance of Babe Ruth: he homered three times in Game 4 and again in Game 7, and walked 11 times in 31 plate appearances (shades of David Ortiz). He walked four times in Game 7, once before and three times after his homer, but he also made the final out, caught stealing in a 3-2 game (shades of Kolten Wong).
The last time the Red Sox won a World Series at home — it’s not like they’ve won that many on the road in the last 100 years — was 1918. Fortunately, they were playing the Cubs, who have lost the last seven Series they’ve played in since winning in 1906. Yes, Babe Ruth won two games on the mound for the 1918 Sox, but the other two, including the clincher, were won by Carl Mays. Mays won 208 games in his career, including 21 for the 1918 Sox (he had a league-leading 30 complete games), 26 for the 1920 Yankees, and an AL-best 27 for the ’21 Yankees, who lost the Series to the New York baseball Giants in six. Mays is more famous for throwing the pitch that killed Cleveland’s Ray Chapman in the heat of the 1920 pennant race; The Pitch That Killed, by Mike Sowell, nicely recounts the events. Even before that, Mays was not popular — he led the AL in hit batsmen in 1917 with 14. He once confronted Tigers’ star Ty Cobb, which probably made it difficult for teammates and opponents alike to pick a favorite.
Mays’ 1918 Series clincher was played on Sept. 11. Because of World War I, the entire season was shortened. The Red Sox played only 126 games, the Cubs just 129.
If the Series goes to seven games, do the Red Sox start Jake Peavy (four innings, six hits, one run) as scheduled? Or Felix Doubront, who’s been the better pitcher in relief (4.2 innings, two hits, one run)?
And what to make of Craig Breslow? In the first two postseason series, he was the Sox’s most secure bridge to Koji Uehera, facing 29 batters and allowing just three hits and five walks; in the Series, he’s faced seven batters and committed as many errors (one) as he’s gotten outs (one). I’m guessing he only appears if the Sox are behind.
This entry was posted in baseball
and tagged Bruce Hurst
, Calvin Schiraldi
, Carl Mays
, Craig Breslow
, Félix Doubront
, Hank Borowy
, Joe Page
, Kent Tekulve
, Mike Sowell
, Ray Chapman
, Ray Kremer
, Stephen Drew
, The Pitch That Killed
. Bookmark the permalink