BOSTON -- First impressions from the Red Sox' 4-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays:
Until the eighth inning, Saturday night felt nothing like October baseball.
To be fair, Boston is in, so it’s different for them than Toronto’s circumstance. But the Red Sox learned anything from the New England Patriots last season, it should be this: take home field advantage where you can.
Had they won Saturday, the Sox would either need a loss from Cleveland or to win their own game Sunday to secure home field, a much better situation than they have now.
Christian Vazquez needs to be the backup catcher to start the postseason.
That was most evident when he nearly threw out Melvin Upton Jr.
Upton swiping second was entirely on Eduardo Rodriguez, but Vazquez nearly saved his bacon -- which would’ve been shocking given the jump Upton got.
With Cleveland being such a fast team, Vazquez can help silence their running game if he’s called on to play.
Given that John Farrell expressed before the game that he doesn’t expect the backup catcher to start in the postseason, that makes Vazquez the best option. You have to expect nothing on offense -- of which you don’t get much from Ryan Hanigan or Bryan Holaday -- but his strong arm can be a game changer.
Rodriguez’s second inning proved Clay Buchholz should be the game three starter in the postseason.
While the elements weren’t in his favor tonight, Rodriguez needed to pitch with more assertion to earn the third starter spot.
He nibbles far too much, which results in walks -- much like the second inning where he walked three batters, gave up two runs on 35 pitches.
He’s still the fourth starter undoubtedly -- pretty much by default -- but Buchholz has clearly shown that he’s become noticeably tougher mentally than Rodriguez -- and that it makes a huge difference.
Craig Kimbrel cannot be trusted with a tie game in the postseason.
As much as he’s gotten the job done in save scenarios, he can’t be “the guy” in the ninth if the game’s all knotted up.
He’s walked six batters in his last three outings and given up five runs over +2 innings.
Saturday wasn’t a terrible outing, but this issue has grown to the point of ridiculousness.
Kimbrel can pitch with a lead, but the experiment of him pitching in a non-save situation has to wait until 2017.