Posts Tagged ‘Mike Napoli’

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One of the weirdest calls to end a baseball game occurred last night. After getting the lead runner at home, Red Sox C Jarrod Saltalamachia threw the ball to third in an attempt to get Allen Craig (who was running from second to third) out. The ball went into left field, but LF Daniel Nava threw the ball back in and Saltalamacchia got the tag on Craig. Here is where things get weird. Craig, who was clearly out, was called safe at home. After initial confusion, Craig was called safe due to interference. What had happened was, when Craig was running home, he tripped over Sox 3B Will Middelbrooks legs. The rule in the MLB is, in short, if a player is interfered with on the base path, whether intentional or not, the runner is awarded a free base. Thus, Craig is allowed to come home and score, effectively ending the game. This call warranted a lot of controversy, but it was ultimately the right call.

Moving forward, the Red Sox cannot dwell on this loss. They need to win tonight or this series could very well be over. Here are two keys for the Red Sox if they want to win this game.

Key #1- Wake the bats up. The Red Sox continue to have a damn near non-existent offseason. Ignoring game one, Boston is hitting under .200 in the past two series. To make matters worse, Mike Napoli is on the bench due to no DH and Shane Victorino is a late scratch due to back tightness. In addition to these, David Ross will be starting at catcher for defensive purposes. Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and the rest of the crew will need to seriously pick up their game if they hope to pull this one out.

Key #2- Avoid stupid plays. Despite however you feel about the interference call, Saltalamacchia should not have made that throw. Craig was likely going to be safe anyways, and there was no reason to throw the ball to third. This isn’t the first time the Sox were haunted by a bad throw. In game 2, Craig Breslow threw the ball over to third in another failed attempt to get a runner who would likely have been safe. The ball sailed into left field, letting the winning run score, and the rest was history. Boston needs to know when to just hold the ball or risk ending the series in St. Louis.

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The scene Thursday night in downtown Boston could have been taken straight from a bad sci-fi movie. The roles were reversed this time as it was the Red Sox suffering from an atrocious defense. The Cardinals capitalized off a bad throw by Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow, which led to the game deciding run to come across home plate. The Cardinals took game 2 by a final score of 4-2. It was a pitcher’s duel through six as both starters Michael Wacha and John Lackey were sending batters down with regularity. Wacha’s performance was slightly disappointing considering how well the rookie phenom has been pitching in the postseason, but he still only allowed two runs (a David Ortiz two run homer) on three hits, while walking four, and striking out five. Lackey was strong as well through six, but due to the seventh inning miscues, ended up being charged with three runs, on five hits.

Game three moves the series from the Green Monster to the Gateway Arch. At this point it is anybody’s series. As a bit of preview for game 3 here are the keys to the game for both teams.

Red Sox

Key #1- Wake the bats up! The Red Sox are hitting an abysmal .188 this series. To make matters worse, they will be without Catalyst Mike Napoli tonight, due to having no DH. Opposing pitcher Joe Kelly is not someone who is unhittable. In his last outing against the Dodgers, Kelly went five innings, allowing four runs, and taking a loss. He is someone who the Red Sox could, and need to hit around if they have hopes of taking game 3.

Key #2- Defense. The same rule that was stated to the Cardinals after game 1 has to be applied here. These teams are so evenly matched, that the series could very well come down to defense. The Red Sox exhibited stupid decision making in the aforementioned seventh inning, where the Cardinals put three runs on the board. If the Sox want to gain some momentum back, they need to make a statement with their bats and gloves tonight.

Cardinals

Key #1- Neutralize Big Papi. The sole member of the Red Sox who is hitting consistently right now is David Ortiz. He is 4-6 with 2 HR and 5 RBI this series. For the Cardinals to take game 3, they need to cool him off. Oritz hit .309 this season, with 30 HR and 103 RBI. It doesn’t help that Kelly is a right hander, which Ortiz feasts off of. Without Napoli protecting him, it will be easier for the Cardinals to pitch around him, but they need to avoid the mistake pitch that the Detroit Tigers and Michael Wacha know too well of.

Key #2- Get ahead early. The St. Louis Cardinals have the momentum right now. They are coming off a win, facing a pitcher who gave up 7 runs in his last start, and are playing at home with one of the best fan bases in all of sports. If the Cards can put a couple of runs on the board early, the sea of red may be able to carry them the rest of the way.

Game 3 starts at 8:07 on FOX (check your local listings)