Red Sox: Culpability for Game 1 loss to Indians lies squarely on star players

Sep 25, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell in the dugout during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell in the dugout during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports /

In Game 1 of the ALDS, the contributions from the “supporting cast” of the Red Sox were annulled by the equally unanticipated, abysmal performances from the “star” players.

Game 1 of the ALDS pitted the Boston Red Sox against the Cleveland Indians. In support of the Red Sox, Brock Holt collected three hits in four at-bats: a solo home run, a double, and a single. Andrew Benintendi collected two hits in four at-bats: a single, and a solo home run. Sandy Leon also clubbed a solo home run and Hanley Ramirez drove in one run, while blistering two doubles.

Were one privy to just the information presented in the aforementioned paragraph, it would be very reasonable to assume that the Red Sox emerged triumphant, by a significant margin, in Game 1 of the ALDS. After all, Cy Young favorite, Rick Porcello, was pitching, and the contributions from the “big names,” e.g., Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley, Ortiz, and Pedroia, have yet to be specified.

Unfortunately, for the Red Sox and their fans, the contributions from said “big names” were few and very far between. In fact, one can quantify just how atrocious the big names performed at the plate. The five keystone members of the Red Sox collected a combined two hits in twenty at-bats, while striking out in eleven of those at-bats.

As excruciating as those results are to read, actual observation of the at-bats depicted by said statistics results in far greater agony. I do not ever recall witnessing as many tentative, checked swings in hitters’ counts as exhibited by Red Sox hitters yesterday.

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Many pitches were offered at that were greater than one foot outside of the strike zone. The great majority of the swings were defensive, even in favorable counts. It was abundantly evident that the Red Sox, most of them anyway, were unprepared, and approached their at-bats with little forethought or plan of attack.

Perhaps even more of an indictment was that the Cleveland Indians’ pitching staff, a staff that has sustained injuries to two of its top three starting pitchers, was responsible for inducing this exhibition of ineffectiveness. Carlos Carrasco is out for the season and Danny Salazar is out of this series. Perhaps due to these circumstances, the Red Sox players simply expected the Indians to roll over and hand them the series.

The Red Sox line-up was expected to pummel this “wounded” Indians team with great facility. Red Sox Nation was under the impression that they had caught the luckiest of breaks, facing a depleted team that could not possibly contain our offense. It was a nearly unanimous prognostication that this series was to be, both, noncompetitive and ephemeral.

One can only assume that the Indians never received the memo, as they tagged Porcello for five earned runs. Porcello exited from the contest after recording a mere thirteen outs, rendering the outing his shortest of the season.

In the bottom of the third inning, Porcello yielded three home runs, all of the “solo” variety, to Robert Perez, Jason Kipnis, and Francisco Lindor.

In an article by David Schoenfield, ESPN SweetSpot Blogger, some context and perspective are provided for the three home-run barrage. “Porcello had never given up three home runs in an inning in his career,” and, “Porcello had gone 65 innings since giving up a home run to the Indians.”

Lastly, Porcello had not surrendered an excess of three runs in a game since July, yielding three runs or fewer in his final thirteen starts.

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In article by the Associated Press on, Red Sox manager John Farrell attempted to expound upon the home-run barrage, stating, “We were up in the strike zone and they made us pay for it.”

Porcello fell to 0-3 with a 5.66 ERA in nine career postseason appearances.

For those who prefer to look at the glass as half-full versus half-empty, the Indians top two relievers, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, each threw forty pitches and are likely unavailable for today’s contest.

In Schoenfield’s article, he expresses Francona’s reasoning for securing a Game 1 victory; however, he also admits that, in doing so, he may have tied his hands for Game 2:

“The Game 1 winner in a best-of-five series wins the series 70 percent of the time. It does leave Francona in a bit of a bind for Game 2, as Allen also threw a season-high 40 pitches. Still, with an off day before Game 3, you have to think both Miller and Allen will be available for at least a few batters, or Miller certainly for Ortiz if a big situation arises. Francona will have to rely on Corey Kluber going deep and using Shaw and Dan Otero out of the ‘pen.”

It remains copiously transparent that Farrell failed to prepare his squad for this game, allowing them to fall prey to the erroneous belief that this wounded Indians’ team was of little concern or threat. Francona, like any good General, and in stark contrast to Farrell, had his team prepared to compete in Game 1, and ultimately emerged triumphant.

Next: MLB Postseason: Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians ALDS Game 1 lineups

In seizing Game 1, Francona and his squad may have delivered a decisive blow from which the Red Sox may be unable to recover.