A forgettable Game 4

A forgettable Game 4
October 17, 2013, 11:30 am
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One of the more enjoyable aspects of the 2013 ALCS has been the schedule. Maybe not the start times, and often nights, not what time they finish. But in general, just the frequency with which they take the field. Where as in the NBA, your average seven-game series takes up to seven months to play, this series between the Sox and Tigers is flying by. Tonight, the teams play their fifth game in six days. At the very latest, this thing will be over by Sunday night; eight days after it started. And that’s really how it should be. It allows the series to develop a rhythm, momentum and an identity.

It also creates a scenario where winners never have the luxury of basking in victory and losers never have time to dwell on defeat, and thank God for that because let’s face it: Game 4 was pretty brutal.

Jake Peavy just didn’t have it. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he’s now the only pitcher in Red Sox postseason history to allow sevens runs in three or fewer innings of work. And the offense wasn’t much better.

You remember David Ortiz’s grand slam in the eighth inning of Game 2? Of course you do. It was probably the biggest hit of the Red Sox season. It was also Ortiz’s only hit of the ALCS. He went 0-5 last night.

Dustin Pedroia has more hits than Ortiz (including a first inning single last night), but still hasn’t made the impact in his combined 17 ALCS plate appearances that Ortiz made in that one.

And obviously, the eighth and ninth batters in the lineup, Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks, continue to suck wind. Right now, it’s like the Sox are playing with two pitchers in those spots. Drew has struggled the entire postseason, batting .107 with two RBI and 21 MEN LEFT ON BASE. He was 0-4 last night. Meanwhile, Middlebrooks was 0-2 before being pinch hit for in the sixth by Mike Carp, and is now hitting .174 in the playoffs.

In general, last night was the first game of the series, and really, the entire playoffs, where the Sox just never had a shot; where they were smacked in the mouth from the start and never showed any legitimate signs of recovery. But the good news is: It’s over. And thanks to the insanity of the schedule, it’s already time to move on.

Game 5 kicks off tonight at 8 pm, and the Sox will get a boost from the presence of Jon Lester. Obviously, nothing and no one is automatic against the Tigers lineup but you certainly trust Lester more than Peavy. First, because of the success he had against Detroit in Game 1. Second, because Lester’s been lights out for a while now. Since August 2, Lester’s made 12 starts (including two in the postseason) and since then, he’s allowed more than three earned runs only once. And that one time was on September 29, in a meaningless game against the Orioles.

The problem for the Sox is the guy on the mound for Detroit: Anibal Sanchez. Fresh off embarrassing Boston in Game 1, and this time with the luxury of pitching at home.

Jacoby Ellsbury broke out with four hits last night, and if he gets going that could have a domino effect on the rest of the lineup. Not to mention, consistently screw with a pitcher’s focus. With their respective track records, you’d also like to think that it’s only a matter of time before Pedroia and Ortiz join Ellsbury on the hit parade.

But when looking at Boston’s offense for tonight, the biggest boost will hopefully come from Xander Bogarts. It’s already long past the time for him to get a start in these playoffs. And with both Drew and Middlebrooks struggling so mightily, John Farrell has his pick. Personally, I think I’d rather see Drew take a seat. But given his success against righties and John Farrell's history of unconditional Drew love and support, I won’t be shocked if tonight kicks off with Middlebrooks on the bench. Either way, the priority isn’t who sits; just that someone sits.

It’s time for Xander Bogaerts. And has been for a while now.