He knows he’s “playing with the house’s money,” “He’s in the Catbird seat.” and he’s got the Red Sox “by the balls,” but Gentleman Jim Leyland will never say it publicly. Sure, he hoped to win Game One, but he did not expect to and it changes everything.
In any short-series Post-season tournament the team who has the fewest wins says that the next game is a “must win.” But, when your #1 starter is out-pitched by their #3 starter, the series’ structure is dramatically altered and your odds of playing in the 2013 World Series just get a lot longer.
Ironically, Tigers’ manager, Jim Leyland, did not have the luxury of resting up and “re-setting” his rotation and it worked to his advantage. He was forced to send Sanchez out for Game One to oppose Farrell’s #1 starter, Lester.
Was Game One the “pivotal” game in this series?
Although admittedly simplistic, if we used just W-L % to assign rotation rank:
- 1. J. Verlander [12-13] OR #4
- 2. A. Sanchez [14-8] #3
- 3. M. Scherzer [12-3] #1
- 4. D. Fister [14-9] #2
[NOTE: MLB lists Max Scherzer as #3 on their rotation depth chart, but Max was 21-3, 0.97 WHIP, and the lead candidate for AL Cy Young, so we rank him #2. With Verlander listed as #1, you could say that at 13-12, he was the #3 starter.]
Although, still, admittedly simplistic, if we used just W-L % to assign rotation rankL
- 1. J. Lester [15-8] OR #3
- 2. J. Lackey [10-13] #4
- 3. C. Buchholz [12-1] #1
- 4. J. Peavy [4-1] #2
But, it seems clear that Farrell considers Lester his #1 starter, Buchholz #2, Lackey #3, and Peavy #4 and Leyland’s ranking is Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez, Fister.
Then the game match-ups go like this:
GAME ONE: Sanchez #3 vs. Lester #1
GAME TWO: Scherzer #2 vs. Buccholz #2
GAME THREE: Verlander #1 vs. Lackey #4
GAME FOUR Fister #4 vs. Peavy #4
GAME FIVE: Sanchez #3 vs. Lester #1
GAME SIX: Scherzer #2 vs. Buccholz #2
GAME 7: Verlander #1 vs. Lackey #4
With these match-ups, the odds seem to be stacked heavily against the Sox in games 3 and 7. Of course, if we get to game 7 at Fenway, it is really the “short hook/staff pitches” approach with nothing to rest for but next season.
As well as Buchholz has pitched this season, is it likely that he can outpitch the AL Cy Young winner—the best pitcher in the AL—twice?
Then, we have already seen a Sanchez-Lester match and a second one seems dicey.
The projected games with Peavy and Fister may be a toss-up, but, at best, a 1-1 result for the Sox.
POINT: Oddly, we may have already played the “pivotal game” in this ALCS Series—Game One. The presumed “unbalanced” matchup between Lester #1 and Sanchez #3 may have calibrated the other match-ups to the major disadvantage of the Red Sox.
But, we recognize the wisdom of retired starter, Jaoquin Andujar, who, when asked to name his favorite WORD in English, replied: “Ju-nebber-no.”
And, Berra The Yogi taught us: “In baseball, you don’t know nothing.”
Yet, the stunning, almost no-hitter, loss has tilted the table that the Sox may have to “run” to face the Cardinals in the 2013 World Series.
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