Don’t you hate it when a series, especially a playoff series, is hyped up but then ends up falling way short of expectations?
Thank goodness that didn’t happen this weekend. Those were probably two of the most interesting, exciting, frustrating games in quite some time.
Let’s start with Saturday. I don’t know what to make of it. The obvious thing to notice is that they were almost no-hit. But, I have trouble getting too worked up about it when they walked so much. They almost had as many baserunners as the Tigers did thanks to all the walks (and a strikeout). So, I never really got the sense they were being dominated. If FOX had ever stopped mentioning the potential no-no, I’m not sure I would have noticed. Sure, the Sox were striking out a ton. But, it always struck me as a missed opportunity, and not a pathetic effort.
What about all those strikeouts? I’m tempted to blame Joe West. When the basis of your team’s offense is knowing the strike zone, working counts, and only swinging at strikes…it can throw you off when the guy behind the plate doesn’t know the strike zone. After that first run through the line-up, the Sox started realizing they needed to swing at anything, and they did. That’s outside their comfort zone. Teams that swing at balls all the time might be able to compensate for a ball that will be called a strike. But for the Sox, it’s outside muscle memory. The outrageous number of swings and misses and check swings would help suggest that. They weren’t sure what they were swinging at, or if they should be swinging at all.
At least, that was my theory until last night. That’s when the Sox kept striking out a ton even with a new guy behind the plate. Was that them being tight from the night before? A little pressure getting to them? Was it just Scherzer continuing a great season? I think it’s interesting that once that first hit came, it’s like the floodgates opened. The pressure of looking out and seeing that zero was gone, and the hits started coming all over the place. That would suggest the poor performance to the game was a carryover from the night before. Once they stopped trying to not be no-hit, they just played.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you can send Big Papi to the plate.