Thursday, August 8, 2013

Just Like They Drew it Up

It started early. The complaining. The whining.

My gosh, it’s the Astros!
Crikey, you can’t lose to the Astros!
For the love of Pedro, you shouldn’t need to come back against the Astros!
Are you kidding? You were lucky to beat the Astros!

Some of those are valid. Some, not so much. Yes, it was the Astros. Yes, the Red Sox should beat the Astros. But, it’s possible that they might need to come back against the Astros. And, they may or may not have been lucky to beat the Astros.

Just because the Astros are a terrible team doesn’t mean they don’t have some good qualities. It just means they also have some poor qualities. So, it’s perfectly understandable that they might have a young starter capable of shutting down a good offensive team. Think Felix Hernandez and the Mariners. But, it’s also perfectly understandable that their bullpen is weak, and tends to give up runs. That’s why they lose games. So, I’m not sure where the assumption came from that the Sox should never trail the Astros. They may be the worst team in the league, but they’re not a high school team. They’re perfectly capable of jumping out to a lead. And, the more talented Sox are capable of erasing that lead in a hurry. That’s the way it goes.

But, were the Sox lucky to win? Ehh…not sure.

A three run home run at any specific point can always be considered “lucky.” They don’t happen all the time. Scoring runs in any given inning is also a bit fluky. If I bet you $36 that the Red Sox will hit a 3-run homer in the top of the fourth inning tonight, you’d probably take that bet. The odds are certainly in your favor. So, to hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning is a bit of an odds buster.

But, to score three runs off the Astros bullpen? Suddenly not so lucky. Aren’t we looking at almost expected at that point? So, if the Sox had hit the home run in the eighth instead of the ninth, is that less lucky? If the Sox hit the homer in the first, is that less lucky?

It’s not good fortune that allowed the Sox to come back. It wasn’t awfulness that caused them to fall behind. It’s just the way the innings fell. The better team ended up scoring more runs than the bad team did last night. They were just spread out a little annoyingly. But, over time, you had to expect it to happen that way.

Which is also why losing a game to the Astros wasn’t (and wouldn’t have been) a sign of a terrible performance. The Sox scored more runs than the Astros did during the series. They were just spread out poorly. It allowed the Astros to squeak away with a win in the first game. But, overall, the Sox showed that they were the first place team.

And the Astros were not. 

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