Red Sox find no relief in this opponent's 'pen

Red Sox find no relief in this opponent's 'pen
October 25, 2013, 2:30 am
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BOSTON -- Like most teams, the Red Sox like to employ a strategy whereby they drive up a starting pitcher's pitch count and get into their opponent's bullpen.

But against the St. Louis Cardinals, that might not be a wise undertaking.

Sure, the Sox were happy to see rookie starter Michael Wacha, who left after six innings, having limited the Sox to just two runs while striking out six.

But things didn't get any easier for the Sox after Wacha departed. Hard-throwing set-up man Carlos Martinez pitched two innings and allowed only a single to David Ortiz while striking out three.

Then closer Trevor Rosenthal went the Sox lineup with relative ease in the ninth, striking out the size.

Over the final three innings, the Sox struck out seven times and didn't hit a single ball hard. Between Martinez and Rosenthal, who poured on the heat, the Sox didn't see many fastballs under 95 mph, with some touching 98 mph.

"I felt the bullpen did a great job," said Cardinal manager Mike Matheny. "What we saw here today (from Martinez) is a lot more of what we've seen here recently. Just the life on the ball. And he's a kid that can carry it a couple of innings, too."

And the ninth?

"That's what we've seen Trevor do for a good part of the season," said Matheny.

Such was Matheny's faith in Martinez that, despite having two lefties in the bullpen - with Randy Choate warming -- he stayed with the right-hander against David Ortiz, who represented the tying run.

"It's not an easy decision," said Matheny, "knowing that we have a left-hander up and ready to go. A lot of it has to do with what we see, how the ball is coming out of Carlos's hands at the time."

Ortiz managed a single into the shift, a grounder into right that Matt Carpenter, playing in shallow right, fielded but couldn't get Ortiz at first.

But they had avoided an extra-base hit from the left-handed Ortiz and the matchup swung back to their favor with the right-handed Mike Napoli coming to the plate. Martinez got Napoli to get under the ball and hit an inning-ending popup to short, stranding two. End of threat.

"They have great stuff," said Dustin Pedroia. "We haven't seen them but hopefully, next time through, we'll have more success."

That's the theory, at least.