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Has John Farrell learned his lesson now?

Oct 17, 2013, 12:17 AM EDT

John Farrell AP

Red Sox manager John Farrell allowed Clay Buchholz to give up five runs to the Tigers in Sunday’s ALCS Game 2, only to be bailed out by one swing from David Ortiz‘s bat. On Wednesday, there was no such rescue after Jake Peavy was allowed to surrender seven runs in three-plus innings in what turned out to be a 7-3 loss.

The score suggests the Red Sox never really got back into the game, but things could have turned out a lot differently. Boston ended up outhitting Detroit 12-9. The Red Sox had four extra-base hits to the Tigers’ two (none of the six overall were homers).

What really undid Peavy was the three walks in a span of four batters in the second. The last of those, a four-pitch walk to an ice-cold Austin Jackson, forced in a run. The Red Sox could have minimized the damage from there had Dustin Pedroia not muffed a double-play ball. They didn’t, and Peavy gave up two more hits, making it 5-0. The remaining two runs scored in the fourth.

After Peavy departed, the bullpen, stellar all month to date, combined to throw five scoreless innings. The group has allowed a total of two runs in 24 innings, both of those coming in the lone loss to the Rays in the ALDS.

With ex-starters Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster, plus another long guy in Brandon Workman, available in the pen, there just wasn’t any reason to stick with Peavy as long as Farrell did. This isn’t the regular season, when a team may play 10 games in 10 days. It’s the postseason: anything goes. Doubront, Dempster and Workman had combined to throw a total of four innings in the past two weeks. They were all ready, and all capable of throwing multiple innings.

Unless it’s Clayton Kershaw or Adam Wainwright we’re dealing with, in the postseason it’s just not worth sticking with a struggling starter in the hopes he’ll turn it around the second or third time through the order. Sure, it can happen, but the relievers are still better bets. If Farrell proves so passive once the ALCS shifts back to Fenway Park, it could cost his team a World Series trip.

  1. peterjohnjoseph - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:39 AM

    The lesson that is still yet to be learned is not pinch hitting for Stephen Drew. Stephen must of saved his life during spring training, because he is the last person Farrell will ever pinch hit for, when time and time again, Drew fails in key positions. In the 7th, he takes the bat of Daniel Nava out, and even the bat of Will Middlebrooks, who despite struggling, at least has enough pop in his bat when he connects that it could be a difference maker. Instead, by taking out Middlebrooks in favor of Carps bat, means that you now loose Bogaerts who will have to play 3rd base for Carp. Instead of having him available to pinch hit for Drew, Bogaerts is now in the game for Middlebrooks and Drew stays in with no one to hit for him. Drew of course strikes out, and once again, the same old story.

    • msullyldp - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:52 AM

      Well put. Also, pinch hitting for Drew in Game 4 against the Rays allowed Bogaerts to score 2 of the Sox 3 runs that night. Farrell should do that more often.

  2. nunan - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    The bullpen has been so good BECAUSE of Farrell, the former pitching coach, and his managing style. You don’t change habits that have worked all year bc things didn’t happen to work out tonight. Faulty reasoning. Team has been making comebacks all year.

    • sabatimus - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:02 AM

      Stephen Drew has NEVER worked out this year. In every situation nearing clutch, he’s been pathetic. His BA with RISP this year was .232. The bullpen might be good, but that doesn’t mean you leave Peavy in to barf up some more runs, or allow Drew to stay in situations where he fails, and has failed during the season, over and over and over again.

      • teaspoon1731 - Oct 17, 2013 at 3:31 AM

        I think sometimes Farrell gets Drew confused with his brother. Who was also mostly useless, but man did he come through with some big hits sometimes.

      • sabatimus - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:15 AM

        JD Drew at least walked. Stephen Drew’s OBP with RISP in the regular season was .301. I.e., crap.

    • MLBlogsbig3bosox - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:40 AM

      I agree that Farrell has been a huge part of Boston’s ptching improvement, but you certainly CANNOT count on coming from behind every night.

      I’m guessing that after Pedey’s bobbled double play, he thought Peavy still had enough in the tank to get out of the inning but the moment Hunter hit that double, he should’ve had at least someone warming up and Peavy shouldn’t had come back in the 4th.

      It’s the playoffs.. you can’t over manage but you can’t treat it like a regular season game/series either.

      • jcmeyer10 - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:14 AM

        Even my lady who was trying to figure out why he was still in there.

  3. sabatimus - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    I figured he had to take Peavy out after the 2nd. He’d only walked 36 batters in 144.2 innings this year, and he walked three in that inning. It was clear he didn’t have it. And yet he was in there again the following inning.

    I wondered before today’s game if Peavy would have what it takes to pitch in the postseason (since he’d never done it before). Now I’m wondering if Farrell has what it takes to manage in the postseason. He’s not learned from some pretty obvious mistakes. For Sox fans, he better learn quick.

    • Caught Looking - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:00 AM

      This was Peavy’s fourth post season start.

      • sabatimus - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:02 AM

        Sorry, I mean in a Championship Series.

      • sabatimus - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:12 AM

        Though I believe the last time Peavy pitched in the postseason prior to this year was six years ago with a different team.

      • Caught Looking - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        He started Game 4 of the ALDS against the Rays.

    • sabatimus - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      Caught, I wrote “prior to this year”.

  4. wheels579 - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:59 AM

    Seriously, Matthew? Are you trying to be a jerk? It is totally absurd to criticize the manager when a starter yields 7 runs over 3 innings, 5 coming in the second. The Red Sox scored three runs all night. They still lose after the damage is done in the second inning. Garbage like this from you demonstrates a lack of integrity. Your argument is embarrassing.

    • sabatimus - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:06 AM

      Peavy should never have been allowed to pitch the 3rd. See my earlier post about how infrequently Peavy walked batters during the regular season. And then 3 in an inning? He clearly didn’t have it, and it’s Farrell’s fault he was allowed to come out and pitch the 3rd. And, also in my earlier post, Drew is useless in potential high-yield hitting situations, and yet Farrell continues to truck him out there.

      • blacksables - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:11 AM

        Why would you manage differently in the post season than you would in the regular season? That doesn’t even make sense. Dance with the one who brung ya’.

        It worked well enough for the Red Sox to have the best record in baseball, so Farrell has a pretty good idea of what he’s doing.

        But more importantly, Matthew is always telling us that the manager really has no effect on wins and losses for the team, and then blames the manager for a loss.

        Which is it?

      • js20011041 - Oct 17, 2013 at 8:18 AM

        You manage differently in the post season for two reasons. The magnitude of the games is maximized. It’s the best of 7, not the best of 162. You can’t afford to throw games away to save the bullpen. There really aren’t any low leverage innings in the playoffs. Also, the number of off days in the post season allows you to use your relievers much more often. A one inning reliever can throw virtually every day during the playoffs.

        What I would have liked to see was take Peavy out in the 2nd for Dempster, then he’s fresh to come back in game 6 or game 7, should Buchholz or Lackey get into trouble early.

  5. wheels579 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:21 AM

    @Sabatimus: Detroit already had five runs after 2 innings. The Red Sox scored 3 all night. The lineup didn’t do nearly enough with their opportunities. Go ahead and make Drew your scapegoat but you’re still grasping at straws. Boston didn’t do nearly enough to win game 4.

    • skeleteeth - Oct 17, 2013 at 6:50 AM

      I agree. Don’t know why Peavy came back out after being down 5-0 but the thing that has driven me crazy this whole series is the approach at the plate some of the Red Sox hitters are taking in certain situations. Don’t think Pedroia has gone the other way except that base hit to load the bases in game 2.

      Ortiz mentioned something about the Tigers pitching them differently than they had seen before after game 2 and ‘we need to make adjustments’. Well? Fucking do it already!

      • sabatimus - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:10 AM

        As both wheels and skeleteeth might see, I made two of their points earlier: 1) wheels says the lineup didn’t do enough–Farrell helped that one along by fumbling with Drew; 2) skeleteeth says “don’t know why Peavy came back out”–Me either. Another Farrell fumble.

        Yes, given the number of Sox hits and the lack of runs, they didn’t hit when the situation required it. But the extra two runs that came across because Peavy was back out there can really deflate a team. And, with only a few exceptions, runs have been very hard to come by in this series (as it should be with the pitching staffs being what they are), and Peavy did not give the Sox a reasonable chance to win. But, as I said, that’s because Peavy sucked and was allowed to stay in the game beyond the 2nd.

        But by all means, keep thumbing me down. It means I’m doing something right.

      • skeleteeth - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:26 AM

        Not arguing Peavy coughing up runs and shouldn’t have been out there. Just that the whole team is having issues hitting with 2 strikes, backing themselves in a corner each at-bat by swinging at garbage soft stuff while trying to raise pitch counts, and in the process making themselves vulnerable to hard stuff on the outer half where they normally live.

  6. hockeyflow33 - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    So he should have taken him out after two? What difference would that have made when the team only scored three runs?

  7. tfbuckfutter - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:08 AM

    I’m pretty sure Dumpster wouldn’t have had a positive impact on the final score.

    Unless the theory is to tire out the Tigers offense for game 5.

  8. riverace19 - Oct 17, 2013 at 2:27 AM

    MATTHEW: state your baseball background now or I am done as a reader because your latest in hindsight armchair manager is the last straw!!

    • 18thstreet - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:33 AM

      RIVERACE19: state your criticism experience now or I am … oh, who has the energy?

  9. cur68 - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:09 AM

    This is vintage Farrell. He panics when things go badly. Fortunately for him, the Red Sox have been great all season. Now though? Its a different animal. Playoff games count far more and he freezes when he needs to make moves in high stress situations. Give him a lead of two or three runs and he’s fine. He does what all managers of good pitchers do: nothing. That’s the wrong move when you need to be getting a struggling SP out of there.

    • 18thstreet - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:34 AM

      Isn’t he being accused of the opposite-of-panicking?

      • cur68 - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:42 AM

        Freezing in place = panicing. He did it a lot when he was Toronto’s manager. You’d think he’d be used to things going wrong after that, eh?

      • js20011041 - Oct 17, 2013 at 8:37 AM

        Cur, I disagree. I don’t think he’s panicking. I’m not even completely sure that it’s that he doesn’t realize that he needs to treat the playoffs differently. I think it’s that he has no faith in anyone other than Koji and Breslow to pitch high leverage innings. I think he has more faith in his starters to get out of jams than most of the bullpen. The only reason Tazawa pitched to Cabrera was that he wanted him to face hard fastballs. Other than that, I don’t think Farrell trusts him.

    • paperlions - Oct 17, 2013 at 8:05 AM

      Nah, this is vintage Pouliot. Starters generally take a LONG time to warm up compared to relievers. He is assuming that Dempster or Doubront could have both warmed up quickly AND been effective after trying to do so.

      Sometimes, you just get beaten and there is no need to blame anyone. By the time anyone would have be able to come in they were down at least 5 in each game they lost. The assumption that the bullpen would have been not only as good as they were shutting out the Tigers for 5 innings if managed differently but BETTER by shutting them out for 6 or more innings is unjustified….and the first guy out of the pen allowed the inherited runner on 1st to score, so they weren’t flawless as it was.

      Pretty much every one of Pouliot’s post-game negative posts (at least 1 per post season game) is post hoc results driven hooey rather than based on a priori expectations of outcomes for the available choices.

      • cur68 - Oct 17, 2013 at 8:31 AM

        To the best of my Knowledge, no Red Sox pitcher needed TJS this season. How about that, eh? When Farrell was The Beaver Skipper, it seemed Drs. Yocum & Andrews were on speed dial. The starting rotaion was a mass of elbow stitches and the bull pen looked like a gauze factory. This season? Well, no issues at all. He’s got no reason for not going to his BP with his SP struggling like Peavy was.

        I stand by my post hoc driven hooey (for such it is) and will detest Farrell with my last breath…unless he saves puppies or helps little old ladies across streets, then I might give him the benefit.

      • paperlions - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:41 AM

        When things go downhill that fast there often isn’t much to do. Panicking would have been to take him out after 2 walks. He doesn’t have a history of wildness and plenty of guys that don’t usually issue walks will walk a couple of guys from time to time and then settle down.

        The best example of why this is a dumb criticism was in today’s other game. After 3 hitters, Greinke had given up 2 singles and a 4 pitch walk. He got out of it. If Mattingly pulls Greinke there, the Dodgers probably lose the game because he was very good after that (and likely better than any relievers would have been for 7 innings)….but he didn’t, Greinke figured it out and the Dodgers won.

        The reason this is post hock stupidity is because it is completely results based rather than expectation based. If Greinke defense failed him (like the RS defense failed Peavy), or Greinke walks another guy and he gives up a flare double…suddenly the Dodgers are down 5.

        It’s baseball. Random shit happens all the time no matter how good you are. You know that…games being playoff games is no reason to suddenly start ignoring it.

      • js20011041 - Oct 17, 2013 at 8:31 AM

        I think we’re all assuming that the move is to take Peavy out and replace him with Dempster or Doubront. Why not bring in Tazawa or Breslow? That 2nd inning was about as high leverage as it got for in the game. Let them get out of the jam, then bring Dempster or Doubront with a fresh inning.

      • indaburg - Oct 17, 2013 at 8:52 AM

        Pouliot isn’t always wrong. Sometimes you get beat and there’s someone responsible. Peavy was missing the zone. Walking guys that he had no business walking. He normally has good control. Why Farrell stuck with a struggling starter for as long as he did is a mystery. I’m glad he did–I liked the outcome, but if I was a Sox fan, I would’ve been tearing my hair out.

      • sabatimus - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:13 AM

        Workman was already warming up during the 2nd. The Sox could’ve used mound visits and delay tactics to get him in there.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:16 AM

        This is a good point. Sometimes people assume you can put in a new pitcher like you would in strat-o-matic Baseball or Statis pro Baseball.

        Could he have brought in an RP to settle the situation and then brought in Dempster or Doubront in the following inning? But yeah at what point would you warm up the RP? After the second walk? After he walked in the run? I don’t see any way the Sox could have escaped damage in that 2nd inning. Though I guess Farrel could have tried putting in one of those two guys in the 3rd. Well, we’ll never know.

        I’m wondering what Joe Maddon would have done. That guy loves to micromanage.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:20 AM

        Workman was already warming up during the 2nd. The Sox could’ve used mound visits and delay tactics to get him in there.

        Like checking the runner. Peavy might have had more success there, to paraphrase another commenter, he should have used this technique: “Wait, wait, wait, my arm is cramping a bit, not sure what got into- SURPRISE BITCHES! THROW TO FIRST!”.

      • js20011041 - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:20 AM

        Absolutely. If Verlander can throw over to first 67 times, so can Peavy. Mound visit by the pitching coach, mound visit by the catcher, throw overs, step offs. There is no reason that a pitcher should pitch a high leverage at bat that the manager doesn’t want him to pitch.

      • sabatimus - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:25 PM

        And yes, indaburg: I was so disgusted I stopped watching.

  10. psousa1 - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:22 AM

    I always remember Joe Torre saying he treated the post season starting pitching completely opposite of the regular season. He didn’t let his starters work through anything – they got the hook whether it was the 2nd inning or the 6th inning. All the teams and the pitching staffs, that are still alive, are just too good to get too far behind and the way the sox bullpen has dominated I don’t think anyone would have second guessed it.

    If Pedroia, the best defensive second baseman in baseball, doesn’t get handcuffed on that potential double play ball it could have been a different story.

  11. wheels579 - Oct 17, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    @sabatimus: Scapegoating Drew is just dumb. Plenty of other guys didn’t come through. Clearly you don’t like Drew, but he didn’t have nearly as bad a game as Pedroia, yet you want to get on Drew & the manager? And two runs deflating the Red Sox is nonsense. You either didn’t watch this game or the team all year if you truly believe that.

    • sabatimus - Oct 17, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      There’s some straw here. I didn’t say that the rest of the team didn’t step up. As a matter of fact I said “Yes, given the number of Sox hits and the lack of runs, they didn’t hit when the situation required it.”

      As far as you “all year” comment: speaking of all year, as I also said earlier, Stephen Drew has sucked. All year. He cannot hit in leverage situations (.232/.301 RISP). Pedroia? He knocked in 84 and posted .312/.369 RISP.

      And two runs don’t deflate a team, you’re right. In my opinion five runs are much more likely to do that, and Farrell could’ve curbed the damage at the least by taking out the guy who gave them up. Instead he allowed matters to get worse.

  12. begoodharry - Oct 17, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    When would you have taken Peavy out M. Pouliot?

  13. wheels579 - Oct 17, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    You keep saying Drew sucks. You keep avoiding the Pedroia miscue while pointing out his regular season numbers as if that has anything to do with why the Red Sox lost game four. The point isn’t to blame Pedroia for the loss, but he was more culpable than Farrell because he could have turned a double play to end that inning before the damage was done that you blame Farrell for not ‘curbing.’ So when you refuse to be fair to the situation and those involved, you come off as a guy who just can’t stand Drew or can’t stand Drew and the manager or just think it’s always the manager’s fault every time something goes wrong.

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