Boston Red Sox: Moments where ALDS Game 1 was lost
By Sean Penney
Call it the anti-Buck move.
Francona managed his bullpen in a way that most managers wouldn’t dare to do, bringing his stud closer into the fifth inning instead of preserving him for a save situation that may never present itself.
Boston was threatening in the top of the fifth after Sandy Leon‘s home run pulled them to within a run. With the heart of the Red Sox order coming up, Francona took no chances. He summoned left-hander Andrew Miller from the bullpen to face the No. 2 through 4 hitters in the lineup, which included a pair of lefties.
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Farrell surprisingly refused to pinch-hit for Holt, who hit a putrid .103 against lefties this season and was being tasked to face arguably the toughest southpaw in the game. The Brockstar rewarded his manager’s faith with a double, while adding a homer later in the game, so the decision to leave him in the game paid off to some extent.
Except Holt’s double was wasted in that inning. Miller walked Mookie Betts to setup a left-on-left match-up with David Ortiz, who struck out to end the inning. Crisis averted for Cleveland.
Miller would remain in the game to retire the next five batters before being lifted with two outs in the seventh inning. After Bauer failed to make it out of the fifth, Miller was able to pick him up with two shutdown innings of relief. It wasn’t the glorified ninth inning role, but it was Miller who really saved the game for the Indians when the game was in danger of unraveling.
The team’s best reliever should be utilized when the game is on the line, which isn’t always the ninth inning. If Cleveland kept Bauer in the game or turned to a less accomplished reliever they would have increased the risk of blowing the lead, in which case Miller would be kept waiting for a save situation that never materializes.
The only silver lining for the Red Sox is that they forced both Miller and Cody Allen, who ultimately was awarded the “save,” to throw 40 pitches last night, which could limit their availability for Game 2.