Saturday, October 20, 2007


This series has been a seemingly never-ending succession of one-act plays, each more important than the last. Josh Beckett authored a brilliant piece Thursday in Cleveland, and now, to mix my metaphors into a delicious sauce, the baton has been passed to Curt Schilling. It will be up to him to keep the series, and the Red Sox season, alive.

Just as I wrote about Game 5, the Red Sox need to treat this game as the end of the world (no, not really, Manny). If Schilling doesn’t have it, that fact needs to be discerned as early as possible in order that the damage inflicted is minimal.

All conventions need to go out the window. There is no pride or shame in this game, only winning and losing. If Schilling runs into an especially tough patch in the fourth inning and Terry Francona decides he’s done enough on the day, he shouldn’t be afraid to bring in Jonathan Papelbon if the situation calls for him simply because tonight's game means the season.


Indians starter Fausto Carmona, all of 23 years old, spent the vast majority of last season in the minor leagues. He threw roughly 100 innings over three levels last year (including a rough stint as Cleveland’s closer). This year, he’s already thrown well over 200 innings. This represents a violent jump in usage, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Carmona’s performance began to lag under the vastly increased workload.

As well as Carmona has pitched this year, and he has pitched incredibly well, he may not be ready for the pressure of this game just as his body may be wearing down some. This may be nothing, or it may be an advantage for Boston. We’ll see tonight.

While the Sox ultimately won Game 5 handily, they had C.C. Sabathia on the ropes all evening long and seemingly couldn’t put him away. The Sox will likely not get as many chances against Carmona, but they will likely get some. How well they take advantage of those chances may be the difference between playing a Game 7 or not.


In other news, Francona hinted that he might alter the lineup and bring in Jacoby Ellsbury for the perpetually struggling Coco Crisp. Potentially removing Crisp makes me wonder how important Crisp’s knowledge of Fenway’s center field is. Schilling is a decided fly ball pitcher, and unless he happens to have a killer split going tonight, its unlikely he’ll strike many people out. So, by modus ponens (if ‘a’ then ‘b’; a, therefore b) there will likely be many fly balls lofted towards center field by Indians hitters as long as Schilling is in the game.

Ellsbury doesn’t lack for range, but he does lack familiarity with areas such as the Triangle in center and the confluence of the Green Monster with the center field wall, which can shoot balls along the wall towards right field (and past unsuspecting center fielders). The question Mr. Francona must answer is how valuable is the difference between Crisp’s knowledge and Ellsbury’s and is that difference greater than the value of the difference between their respective batting abilities.

I will go on record as being in favor of the switch as Carmona’s decided ground ball tendencies will likely continue to stymie Crisp’s hitting. (At this point it appears the Indians could put a peach and a wheel of cheese on the mound and they would stymie Crisp’s hitting abilities.) On the other hand, Ellsbury is so fast that he can actually beat out routine ground balls for hits. I have actually seen him do this. Whats more, in a game where the Sox are going to need every run they can get, Ellsbury’s ability to get an extra step or two compared to Crisp could be the difference between scoring and being called out at home.

It should be an interesting game. The Sox have begun to claw their way back, and they can even the series tonight. This thing isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot.


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