Francona, Maddon and the bullpen

ALCS Game 5 spillover thread
Report: Yanks 'interested' in Peavy

At some point in the playoffs, textbook managing has to take a backseat to creativity. Joe Torre, once Don Zimmer left, never really put that together, and tonight, we saw both sides of the picture.

On the one hand was Terry Francona. Facing a five-run deficit and with two on and nobody out in the seventh, Francona played his trump card. Knowing that the Red Sox had their back to the walls, Francona wasn’t going to go down without getting his best pitcher into the game. Shades of the 2003 World Series this was not.

In a way, the move backfired. Jonathan Papelbon allowed the two inherited runners to score, but he staunched the bleeding after that. He pitched out of a self-induced two-on, no-out jam and held Tampa’s offense in the 8th.

This risky Papelbon move wasn’t the only gamble Francona took. He had gone to Hideki Okajima, one of his other top relievers, in the fifth to keep Tampa quiet. Only Manny Delcarmen in the seventh dropped the ball. Meanwhile, with a few other relievers in the pen — including Justin Masterson, the eventual winner — Francona knew that he could buy his offense a few innings before he absolutely had to turn the game over to Mike Timlin, the Sox’s 25th man in the postseason.

Across the field, Joe Maddon was not so lucky. Up 7-0 with two outs in the 7th, Grant Balfour lost it. Then Dan Wheeler, throwing just 19 of 33 pitches for strikes, lost it, and finally J.P. Howell really lost it. As his pitchers struggled throwing for command and struggled keeping Red Sox off the bases, Maddon didn’t really manage for anything.

At this point, Maddon has to know that even up 7-1, a lefty should come into face David Ortiz. Maddon has to recognize that when Dan Wheeler struggles, you remove him before J.D. Drew, another lefty, comes up to the plate. Maddon has to overmanage game five of the ALCS even with a six- or seven-run lead because this is Fenway Park and these were the Red Sox, winners of two of the last four World Series. They’re not going to roll over.

In the 8th, I believe that the Rays should have turned the ball over to one James Shields. He’s held the Red Sox in check all season and could have pulled a Randy Johnson circa 2001 in getting the final six outs. Maddon wouldn’t have burned his game six starter because there would have been no game six.

Perhaps, a move like that would have represented something of a Hail Mary in a non-Hail Mary situation. After all, Tampa — 57-24 at home — lost two in a row in the Trop just twice all season, once against the Mariners in April and once against the Yankees in September. But with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester on tap, if I’m Joe Maddon, I don’t take those chances. After all in 2004, after the Yanks roundly beat the Sox in game three, Boston came back to win not just one but two games they shouldn’t have won. There certainly were shades of 2004 haunting game five tonight.

If Tampa is going to win this series, they have to learn that when the Boston Red Sox in October show you their jugular, you go for it with all you’ve got.

ALCS Game 5 spillover thread
Report: Yanks 'interested' in Peavy
  • Adam B.

    Or perhaps even letting David Price face a few hitters?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Ugh. I forgot about Price. Why was he not in this game with a 7-run lead? There’s your three-inning save right there. What’s the point of having him on the roster if you’re not going to use him?

      • A.D.

        My thoughts exactly, let Price come in and throw gas to close that one out

      • Chris C.

        “At this point, Maddon has to know that even up 7-1, a lefty should come into face David Ortiz.”

        Why would you do that, when the guy you have on the mound has been better against left-handed hitters this season than any lefty pitcher on your staff????????

        And guess how many long balls Balfour had surrendered to lefty hitters this year, heading into last night’s game? ZERO.

        Monday Morning QBing at it’s finest.

        • ceciguante

          agreed. this post is pure hindsight.
          meanwhile, if maddon used shields, his expected game 6 starter, and lost, the post would have been about how stupid that move was.

          maddon used his best guys, they just got beat. end of story.

    • Chris C.

      David Price has 5 major league appearences under his belt, and you want to bring him in to replace probably the best middle reliever in the majors this season?

  • Lanny

    No way the Sox blow this now.

    What a disaster.

  • pat

    was there a pres conference? did maddon say anything about his choice of relievers?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      “Those two guys, Grant and Danny (Wheeler) have been so consistent all year,” Maddon said. “They had a tough night, it happens, but Grant has done a great job in those situations. They both have great numbers against lefties. It was business as usual tonight, it just didn’t work.”

      From this San Fran Chronicle article. Not the most compelling of excuses.

      And in this TBO article, the Rays do not sound too good. Shields better be on his A-Game on Saturday. This was not a game Tampa should have lost.

      • pat

        They sound like they already lost the series. You gotta hope that these kids realize that they didnt fight and claw with us all season to just roll over and die because they lost a tough game in boston. I honestly don’t think I can stomach watching the redsox pull off another come from behind series victory and ensuing media sploogefest. We joke about it here alot but the msm over saturation of the words gritty and gutty will surely lead me to a precipitous decline in my overall demeanor.

      • Chris C.

        Not the most compelling of excuses.

        It’s not a good excuse when you provide facts to support your moves?
        Saying Balfour has been consistent all year and terrific against lefties is not true?
        C’mon, Ben.

        “This was not a game Tampa should have lost.”

        Well of course it isn’t. But don’t blame the manager! All he did was rely on players who have been brilliant this season in those very spots, and they didn’t come through.
        As much as it pains you, try giving the Red Sox some credit.
        The guys who hurt the Rays are bonified, 8-figured All-Stars, not a bunch of chumps!

    • Chris C.

      Oh, for CRYIN OUT LOUD!!!!! This is friggen ridiculous! Nobody’s seen the Rays play all season except when they rolled into town, but all of a sudden everyone’s a better manager than Joe Maddon?

      Grant Balfour pitched this season to a 1.54 ERA, with a 0.89 WHIP, and people are talking about him like he’s Mike Timlin. One guy even suggested bringing in a rookie lefty to pitch to Big Papi, apparently with no clue that lefties are hitting a stellar .120 this season against Balfour.

      In fact, the three pitchers Maddon used to end the game had ERA’s of 1.54, 3.12, and 2.22. And outside of Longoria’s error, Howell would have tossed a 1-2-3 in the 9th.

      Instead of giving the Red Sox credit for waking up and playing like the 150 million dollar team that they are, let’s all second guess a manager who pulled a 31 game swing with his ballclub this year.
      Despite the fact that the Rays bullpen has been among the top 3 in the majors this year, let’s undercut them by showing no confidence and bringing in the next game’s starter. In other words, Maddon should manage differently than the way he managed to get to this point.

      Brilliant.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

        In other words, Maddon should manage differently than the way he managed to get to this point.

        It worked for Francona.

        • Chris C.

          “It worked for Francona.”

          Totally diffetent situation. Francona had no choice. He was going home if he didn’t stop the Rays from scoring.
          You think Francona is bringing Papelbon in in the 7th if the SOX had a 3-1 series lead?

          Again, I ask you……..why would you bring a lefty in to face Ortiz, when the guy on the mound has better numbers against lefty hitters than all of your lefty pitchers?

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Why in the world would you bring Shields in? By time the 8th inning rolled around, the Rays were still up 4, and you have to imagine that some combination of Wheeler, Howell & Chad Bradford could manage to get six outs before giving up four runs.

    Leave Shields alone and let him get ready for Game 6. The loss was ugly for the Rays, but I’m sure if you told them a week ago that they’d be going back to Tampa up 3-2 on the Sox with Jamie Shields set to pitch Game 6, they’d take that situation every day of the week.

    Side note: WTF is with all these off-days? Christ, they get more days off in the playoffs then they do all season. The beauty of baseball is that you play every day, and the increasingly retarded playoff schedule is ruining that.

    • Accent Shallow

      Blame the networks.

    • Relaunch

      I’m sure if you told the Yanks in 2004 that 1 week before the ALCS that they would be going back to the stadium up 3-2, they would take it also.
      It doesn’t work that way though. There are many things involved that stats can’t measure. There is momentum, confidence coming back the way they have the other years. Last nights comeback though tops it all for a single game.
      I’m praying the Rays win game 6, but its doubtful.

      • steve (different one)

        By time the 8th inning rolled around, the Rays were still up 4, and you have to imagine that some combination of Wheeler, Howell & Chad Bradford could manage to get six outs before giving up four runs.

        3 runs. changes things a little.

        but one thing was certain, i could tell Wheeler didn’t have it after TWO pitches.

      • greg

        If momentum plays such a key role, then why did the Rays blow this game. No team could have had more momentum then them when they were up 7-0.

        • Relaunch

          Your right. There was no momentum for the Sox in 04 and 07 in the alcs which spilled over to the WS. How dumb of me.

          • Chris C.

            “If Shields holds – THERE IS NO GAME 6 the Rays are off to the WS – why would you leave your best pitcher sitting htere”

            Let’s see…………you’re Joe Maddon, and your team just won the AL East. They then won the 1st round of the playoffs, and have a 3-1 lead in round 2, in large part because of the stellar work your pen has given you this season, and right up to yesterday’s game.

            Is that really the message you want to send to those guys, when your backs aren’t even to the wall?

            His entire philosophy of success with this team has been to instill confidence in his young team. That move would go against everything that’s gotten them here.

            • Relaunch

              I really dont think most people are saying Shields should have been in the game. At least I’m not.

              • Chris C.

                “I really dont think most people are saying Shields should have been in the game. At least I’m not.”

                Even worse……people are saying that Price should have been brought in.

                That’s like saying Phil Coke should replace Mariano Rivera when Papi comes to the plate, just because he’s a lefty. That’s right, I said it…….Balfour has been just as good as Rivera against lefty hitters this year.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

                  Did you miss the part of the game in which three of the first five batters to face Balfour reached base? At some point, you have to realize that your top pitchers don’t always have their best stuff every night, and with Ortiz up in that situation, you can’t allow the Sox to get back into the game.

                • Chris C.

                  That only made it 7-4.

                  When a guy has the season that Balfour did, you can have a little faith that he will pitch his way out of it.
                  I mean geez, the guy didn’t just have just a good season……..he had a PHENOMINAL season.
                  His numbers jump off the page. You DO NOT replace him with a rookie that’s appeared in only 5 ballgames.

                  Sure, it’s easy to say he should have done that now.

                  And as for Shields? No way. You do not disrespect your extremely successful pen like that in a game that is not do or die.

                  I mean geez, they’ve been immaculate all season, then the first sign of trouble, you ditch them for your ace when you have a 3-1 series lead?
                  Joe Girardi might do that. Joe Maddon won’t.

                • Relaunch

                  Agree about not bringing in Shields, but a move had to be made. As Ben said, he was getting hit and at some point, you have to realize he doesn’t have it.

    • JimT

      You don’t use Shields in this game. The Rays are still playing another game win or lose last night. They had to have Shields ready for the next game vs the Red Sox or Phillies.

      All of the off days really changes the dynamic of the game. All a team needs is a strong three man starting staff for the playoffs. It changes the game from the regular season.

    • PhilK

      If Shields holds – THERE IS NO GAME 6 the Rays are off to the WS – why would you leave your best pitcher sitting htere

  • TheLastClown

    I thought after one Boston run scored in the 7th on the Pedroia single, with two on and two out & Ortiz up, D. Price should have been called in. I mean, I know he’s not cut his teeth yet, but what better place, up by 6 runs, up by 2 games in the series.

    If he falters, the world doesn’t fall apart, but if he succeeds, and a power lefty against an ailing Ortiz could very well have succeeded, rather than a power righty, and if he succeeds, they’re up 6 runs, and the next two run scoring innings may unfold differently.

    Definitely poor managerial job for Maddon. It’ll be nice for them to celebrate at home, in Tampa. Beckett, undoubtedly the best postseason pitcher ever, will lose ALCS Game 6.

    • Axl

      Beckett the best post season pitcher ever??? Undoubtably??? He’s been in 2 post seasons before this year…last year he beat up an injury riddled Angels squad and the teenage mutant ninja Rockies…albeit he did well against the Indians were the only good team they faced…

      You’re forgetting John Smoltz. He has the most wins in post season history and his ERA is filthy. He also has hundreds of more innings pitched than Josh Beckett does…

      Get with the program…

    • Chris C.

      “I thought after one Boston run scored in the 7th on the Pedroia single, with two on and two out & Ortiz up, D. Price should have been called in.”

      Why, when you’ve got a guy on the mound who lefty hitters hit .120 off this season, with ZERO home runs???? Don’t just make blanket statements.
      Balfour has been the Joba Chamberlain of the TB staff this year.

      “If he falters, the world doesn’t fall apart, but if he succeeds, and a power lefty against an ailing Ortiz could very well have succeeded, rather than a power righty, and if he succeeds, they’re up 6 runs, and the next two run scoring innings may unfold differently.”

      “Definitely poor managerial job for Maddon.”

      No, it really wasn’t. Maddon managed to his team’s strengths, and the stats bear it out. It was just a great job by the Sox.
      You wanna know the bad managing job by Maddon? It came in Game 1, when the Rays were down 2-0 in the 8th, and they had 1st and 2nd, 0 outs, and a 3-0 count on Pena. Pena then swings, and flies out to right, destroying the inning. I’m sorry, but only Babe Ruth or Barry Bonds get the green light in that spot!

      If he falters, and te Rays eventually lose, the entire world is wondering how Maddon can bring a rookie into such a big game.
      Hindsight is 20/20.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Heh, ESPN is doing a segment on Tommie Smith & John Carlos right now.

    • pat

      is it about their avid blogging?

  • J.R.

    I have that ALCS sinking feeling that we have all felt from the sox.

  • Raven

    Let’s hope that the Rays lost on purpose because they really wanted to clinch the ALCS title in front of their home fans.

  • Relaunch

    What an awful way to wake up this morning. I have no confidence now that the Rays will stop them.

    • GG

      No confidence? I guess being up 3-2 is a bad thing in the end.

      • Relaunch

        Look at the history. The team has come back from 3-0 and 3-1 holes and is poised to do another 3-1. Coming back from a 7-0 game in the 7th inning is huge.
        The momentum is all on their side regardless of how many stats are thrown out there that prove Arod is just as clutch as Ortiz in late game situations. Point is, its not all about the numbers, there is something about this sox team.
        They will come back and win this series.

        • ceciguante

          you’re overreacting. the sox could win, yes, but they’re down 3-2 going to TB. the rays salvaged a 1-1 split 3 games ago, and they’d have been thrilled to take 2 of 3 in boston. rays still have the edge here.

          • Relaunch

            Yanks and Cleveland also had the edge. I’m not recommending Shields should have been in the game, I also think that is dumb.

            Please don’t use that they would have been thrilled to win 2 out of 3 argument. That would have been fine if you told that to them after game 2. But don’t tell me they are so happy that they had a 7-0 lead with 7 outs remaining and blew it.

  • Elston32

    Luckily for Yankee fans the Rays often exhibit some magic of their own at their “isn’t this place better suited for a used-car lot?” stadium. But as everyone has stated being in this situation should not have occurred in the first place.

  • Axl

    How does a team all of the sudden start hitting, pitching, and playing defense poorly ALL AT THE SAME TIME?!?!? It boggles the mind. BJ Upton who has been catching everything…misses a ball he could have gotten…and Longoria makes a good play and of course Pena has to boot it into the stands. Maddon then elects to pitch to an inexperienced Jason Bay who hasn’t done much of anything lately…and have his lefty go up against JD Drew who just hit a 2 run bomb in his previous at bat…oh yeah…and by the way….Drew is also 4 for 7 off this guy on the mound….let’s keep him in!!!!

    Ridiculous how it all unfolds like that…

    • steve (different one)

      that wasn’t Pena’s fault, it was Longoria’s fault, but your point still holds.

    • Chris C.

      …and Longoria makes a good play and of course Pena has to boot it into the stands.

      LMAO!!! Yeah sure…….that was Pena’s fault. It’s not as if Longoria rushed a terrible throw or anything like that. Geez, Pena’s a gold-glove calibre 1st baseman, and you make it sound like he’s Big Papi over there.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Yeah, Longoria made a terrible throw. He has to know that Youkilis ain’t Speedy McSpeedster running down the line. That was costly, and you can’t really blame Peña for that.

      • Axl

        You’re right…it wasn’t a great throw…but it wasn’t THAT bad…it was catchable. The way Pena approached it was not “Gold Glove” caliber whether he is one or not….those kind of throws (while not pleasant) are made 9 times out of 10. That’s the only reason I put the blame on Pena. You can point to either…but I made a choice…

        What do you care anyways? Just felt like arguing about something?

        • Axl

          Sorry, replied to the wrong guy lol.

          Still getting used to this thing.

  • JohnC

    If Josh Beckett shows up for game 6 wearing a bloody undershirt, then Rays are doomed

  • Mike Pop

    I woulda brought in Shields too and took my chances if he got hit and started Edwin tomorrow or something, I really think Shields should of been in there

    • Chris C.

      Please. That’s a desperate move.

  • frank

    The real issue for me is not the pitchers Maddon used in certain situations, but rather how long he left them in for!

    I think it was said previously, but Wheeler OBVIOUSLY did not have it. How in the world can you leave him in as long as he did? Same can be said with Balfour. Yes he’s had a great season but was bad in his last appearance in this series (2 BB, ER) and anyone could see how jacked up he was after allowing a few baserunners.

    If you’re Maddon, you have to squash that momentum any way you can. You go through your pen until you find someone who can get outs. It doesn’t matter who it is. He had a plethora of power relievers in the pen to work with for those 9 outs.

    It’s inexcusable to allow a reliever to even remain in a game of that magnitude long enough to give up more than one run.

  • frank

    Also, please someone correct me if I’m wrong… but with the Rays up 3-1 before last night, absolutely tearing through the postseason, I never saw ONE report, not ONE mention on ANY network about the disparity between the payrolls in this series.

    Quite contrary to when the Yankees play the Marlins, or the Indians, even the Angels, or any team in the postseason for that matter.

    The difference in coverage between Yankees championship seasons to Red Sox championship seasons is simply UNBELIEVABLE. Imagine for yourself if the Yankees were playing in this series instead of the Red Sox and the same events happened. There is no question the Yankees would once again be cast the role of the big bad giant who bully the underdog, cinderella Rays with such a comeback, thereby delaying a Rays celebration the whole nation wants to see.

    The reason lies with ESPN and the agenda they purposely make an effort to set.
    The bias is here is vast and it cannot be questioned.

    I’m uh…. I’m seein’ a buhdist about it.

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