MLB: World Series-Boston Red Sox at St. Louis Cardinals

Game Three of the 2013 World Series was a vast and storied affair. It contains multitudes, layers, and, as I wrote last night, cascading ripples of insanity.

Those ripples built into a rogue wave that suck the Edmund Fitzfarrell, drowning all sorts of great little talking points and moments on which the game might have turned. More than anything, this game provides ample opportunities for second guessing. Let’s count’em down in the Second Guessing Power Rankings!

  1. Mike Matheny‘s use of Randy Choate in the sixth inning. With one on and one out in the sixth inning, Cards manager Mike Matheny ended Joe Kelly‘s night, opting to use Randy Choate against David Ortiz. It’s tough to get a read on Matheny’s feelings when it comes to David Ortiz. Obviously, the Game One home run off Kevin Siegrist lives long in his memory.

    There is also a reasonable chance that Randy Choate is a much tougher matchup for Ortiz, as his bread and butter slider gives the Sox DH fits while the steady heat from Siegrist plays in the hitter’s hand a bit. And it isn’t as if just slipping in a portsider shuts Ortiz down.

    By using Choate in this situation, it guarantees Ortiz comes up later in the game against a second-choice reliever or right-hander.

    More to the second guessing point, Choate’s choice to go away from the slider looks especially odd after David Oritz singles into right field.

  2. Dana DeMuth’s strike zone. Almost inexcusably bad. As a man who really, sincerely tries to set aside petty ball/strike griping, I have to say the zone “established” by home plate umpire Dana DeMuth was truly awful.

    This one at bat crystilizes the issues DeMuth had calling balls and strikes all night long. Tons of low calls and a real lack of consistency, specifically to one side of the plate. For a guy to get my attention, he needs to be really bad. Dana DeMuth, you have my attention.

  3. The defense of Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts. Despite what we’ve all heard and read about the Red Sox enviable depth, they find themselves in a very tricky position three games in the 2013 World Series – they have very woeful hitters at the bottom of their lineup right now.

    It isn’t that Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are not good hitters on the whole, but right now, for whatever reason, they don’t look right. Maybe their true talent is lurking below the surface but timing or swing glitches or their own fool heads refuses to let these two up-the-middle defenders put the bat on the ball.

    This creates fall out, as the Sox must shuffle their cards to accommodate these scuffling hitters. Stephen Drew’s postseason numbers this year are near record-lows but the Sox are reluctant to take him out because of their belief in his defense. Additionally, it appears the Red Sox are not sold on the defense of Xander Bogaerts at short.

    As well as the phenom’s bat justifies his place in the lineup, last night he did very little to make the Sox brass feel much better about his glove in the short term. More than his ability to physically make plays, it is the green player’s decision making that may be called into question. On Matt Carpenter‘s infield single in the seventh inning, Bogaerts appeared to run around the ball a bit, taking extra seconds that allowed Carpenter to leg out his single.

    Later that inning, Bogaerts made a relay throw to in a futile attempt to get Carlos Beltran, who scored from first on Matt Holliday‘s double down the the line. The throw permitted Holliday to move up 90 feet to third base with nobody out. Holliday didn’t score but the mental gaffe was surely noted by those with important opinions.

    As for Middlebrooks, much as been made of his “fall down range” attempt on that very same Holliday double. Fresh off the bench as he was, he didn’t seem to make a strong move off the crack of the bat and the ball slipped past him.

    It created a weird situation where in the span of minutes, some fans decried Bogaert’s defensive abilities at one position while longing for them at another, just a few feet to the right. Which is to say nothing of the aborted scoop job by David Ortiz at first base on Bogaerts’ throw in the dirt.

    As easy as it is for observes to plug this player into that spot at the drop of a hat, Boston has their reservations. Whether one inning confirms those fears as legitimate doesn’t change the fact that those players ended up in those positions and it mattered. It mattered a lot.

  4. Holding Yadier Molina at third base. Yadi Molina is not fast. He is, in fact, very slow. He’s a catcher but before that, he’s a Molina. Running is not a strong suit of that proud lineage.

    So when Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo held Yadi Molina on Jon Jay‘s fourth inning single to center field, it didn’t draw a great deal of initial criticism. Though it should, because the Red Sox all but conceded that run.

    The ball hit by Jay died in the outfield grass and Ellsbury had a bit of a hike to pick it up. Ellsbury came up throwing when he fielded the ball – throwing to third base.

    ellsbury throw

    A very conservative hold with nobody out and a center fielder all but waving the white flag. Very conservative. VERY. Send the man home, Jose. Let Yadi be free.

  5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s throw down to third base. Second guessing Salty’s throw down to third, trying to cut down Allen Craig requires a lot of assumption. Assuming the Sox catcher knows that Pete Kozma is on deck and knowing the very slow runner is nearly on the bag. As stated post-game, it is also dependent on countless other factors which culminated in this one moment and this one errant throw.

    But that’s the name of the game. In that moment, Jarrod Saltalamacchia made an error that ended up costing his team the game. Maybe don’t do that, Salty. Just a tip. (I’m joking. Other than the quality of throw, he’s blameless in this instance.)

  6. Allowing Brandon Workman to hit in the ninth inning. Below is the complete list of pitcher who hit for themselves in the ninth inning of tied postseason games.
    Date ▾ Series Gm# Batter Tm Opp Pitcher Score Inn RoB Out Play Description
    2013-10-26 WS 3 Brandon Workman BOS @STL Trevor Rosenthal tied 4-4 SO t9 1 Strikeout Looking
    2004-10-07 NLDS 2 John Smoltz ATL HOU Brad Lidge tied 2-2 1B b9 0 Single to RF (Line Drive)
    2002-10-14 NLCS 5 Matt Morris STL @SFG Tim Worrell tied 1-1 SO t9 1 Strikeout Looking
    1991-10-13 NLCS 4 Mike Stanton ATL PIT Stan Belinda tied 2-2 Out b9 -2- 2 Popfly: 1B (Weak 1B)
    1982-10-09 NLCS 2 Gene Garber ATL @STL Bruce Sutter tied 3-3 Out t9 2 Groundout: P-1B
    1981-10-07 NLDS 2 Jerry Reuss LAD @HOU Dave Smith tied 0-0 SO t9 1 Strikeout
    1977-10-11 WS 1 Sparky Lyle NYY LAD Mike Garman tied 3-3 SO b9 0 Strikeout (foul bunt)
    1975-10-14 WS 3 Jim Willoughby BOS @CIN Rawly Eastwick tied 5-5 Out t9 1– 1 Bunt Groundout: 1B-2B/Sacrifice; Burleson to 2B
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 10/27/2013.

That’s a short list. The list is short because it is unfathomable that any manager let his pitcher hit in this moment. John Farrell knows it now but, apparently, this realization escaped him when the option to double-switch in David Ross and Koji Uehara presented itself.

This is the ultimate second guess opportunity because it was so…misguided. Foolish. Unwise. An obvious mistake. It wasn’t a good choice, is what I’m trying to say. It was bad. Pitcher Brandon Workman took more swings in this game than Mike Napoli. That shouldn’t happen. But it did. And the Red Sox lost. They didn’t lose because of this decision but it sure ended up looming large.

Most of all, if John Farrell had the choice, he would do it differently. Nothing is more second guessable than a move the manager wishes he could undo. Whoops.