October 6, 2007

Welcome "Playoff Tito"

"Playoff Tito" is here.

While Daisuke Matsuzaka was at nearly 100 pitches after 4.2 innings and Boston trailed only 3-2, it was surprising to see Francona bring the hook that early.

Then, with two outs in the top of the eighth, he went to Jonathan Papelbon. The Sox had the 6-7-8 hitters up in the home half of the eighth, then the top of the order in the bottom of the ninth. Francona was aggressive, determined to shut down the Angels with his best arm and assume that the offense could break the 3-3 tie.

In May or August, Francona likely does not do either of these things. But this is October. So for the final 16 LAA batters, we saw MDC, Jeemer and Bot. Only the best of the pen. (While Timlin was up in the seventh -- right about (or after) MDC plunked Vlad -- I'll bet he would have been in the game only if the Angels had scored a run).

Brilliant work by Francona.

Matsuzaka's second inning was rough -- three hits, a walk, three runs (59 pitches through two innings) -- but Dice did settle down a bit after that. After Garret Anderson's double and baserunning gaffe at third, Matsuzaka retired seven of eight batters on only 22 pitches. Then Macier Izturis lined a single off Kevin Youkilis's glove (and Dice was slow to cover first). After Matsuzaka threw a wild pitch and walked Casey Kotchman, Francona was quickly out of the dugout. In retrospect, it was the exact right time to go to the bullpen.

In the bottom of the ninth, Julio Lugo got things going with a first-pitch single to left. And Boston was immediately aggressive -- Lugo running on the first pitch to Dustin Pedroia -- which was a grounder to short. All of which led to the free pass to David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez's moon shot.

The players still had to do their jobs, but Francona pushed all the right buttons last night. Some SoSHers thought Tito might have been too aggressive, wondering what would have happened had the game remained tied into the 10th and 11th. But it was clear that Francona saw a good chance to win the game and he did not hesitate, putting in Papelbon and then almost challenging the hitters to get a run.

13 comments:

Woti-woti said...

Good analysis. I think Tito played it just right with the 'pen, especially the timing of Snuffer's appearance. When you can see the top of your lineup looming in the 9th, you have to let the boys know you expect them to end it. Keep pushing them buttons, Tito.

Patrick said...

Not to mention, that (I assume) it was Tito who has Lugo running in the 9th for a hit and run. If that hadn't been so, it would've been a double play.

ish said...

Certainly a night only to be viewed in retrospect. We were all questioning his motives at the time, and if it blew up in our faces, he'd be on the chopping block of Red Sox Fans. Baseball is like that. There are a lot of times where you take a chance and do something - you either look like a genius if it works, or you look like an idiot if it doesn't.

Amy said...

Funny how we were all cursing and sweating last night when he brought in Papelbon.

s1c said...

Funny how we were all cursing and sweating last night when he brought in Papelbon

We?

L-girl said...

Funny how we were all cursing and sweating last night when he brought in Papelbon

We?


Exactly. I didn't think there was anything to sweat or curse about last night.

redsock said...

There was confusion and worry. (I'll bold my clear prediction of what was to happen!)

Amy said...
Who's coming in? Papelbon now?
11:59:00 PM

nixon33 said...
im confused, why pap?
11:59:00 PM

tim said...
Snuffer being used in a non-save situation always makes me cringe...
11:59:00 PM

ish said...
Snuffin' time already?
I don't like this. Prove me wrong, Pap. Make this a good move.
11:59:00 PM

Colin said...
Wait Pap in now? Why does this raise red flags?
11:59:00 PM

redsock said...
Bot. Huh.
Tito planning on gettin' a run in th e8th or 9th, I suppose.
12:00:00 AM

Colin said...
Tito I hope you have a good plan otherwise I'm confiscating all of your dope.
12:00:00 AM

Edward Lee said...
Think of it as a "dammit, I really want to win this game" situation then.
12:00:00 AM

Amy said...
OK, looks like we are all bewildered by Pap being called in now.
12:01:00 AM

ish said...
Very surprising here. Day off tomorrow, long time between outings for Papelbon... 2 out in the 8th. If the Sox don't tie it in the 9th, you'll have Gagné, Timlin, etc etc.
12:01:00 AM

Colin said...
I seriously wonder if Tito ever heard the phrase: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
12:03:00 AM

Colin said...
What still boggles my mind is why Bot is in when Oki was doing well? Is it that whole rest thing?
12:08:00 AM

Amy said...
This is making me crazy. WTF is Francona thinking? I don't want to watch this; I have a bad feeling.
12:08:00 AM

thatdietcokegirl said...
this was a weird move by tito.
12:09:00 AM

thatdietcokegirl said...
it's robot over-managing. it's like...'oh he pitched an inning and a third so it's time to take him out'
or, ya know, something ;/
12:10:00 AM

Colin said...
This is not only stupid, but scary as well.
12:10:00 AM

thatdietcokegirl said...
but ya know, alls well that ends well. good move tito! ;))
12:13:00 AM

Amy said...
OK, everyone, breathe. Now what? Bring him back for the ninth?? Bring in Gagne? I still don't get what Francona was thinking. And how many pitches did he throw?
12:13:00 AM

nixon33 said...
i still am confused about the move to bring in pap in the 8th tie game, 2 out no one on.
12:14:00 AM

Amy said...

OK, so everyone but Allan was nervous. By "we," I meant mortal human beings who post here, not the blogmaster himself. Allan, as usual, was our reassuring optimist.

As for you, S1C, I think you were just stunned into silence because I see no reassuring post from you telling us Francona was being wise and strategic.

L-girl said...

I wasn't nervous. I also wasn't upset about Dice-K.

And not because I watch the games with Allan. Just my own brain. Plus I'm mortal.

L-girl said...

PS You can't imagine how funny it is to hear Allan described as an optimist. The post-2004 Allan is a very different man.

Amy said...

Laura, I think you were busy with your guests at the time so had not chimed in. You two must be the cheeriest people on earth! (Yeah, I know---I am sure most things going on in the world do not make you feel like optimists, but at least in the baseball world, you both seem to see the glass as half full most of the time, not half empty.)

L-girl said...

Laura, I think you were busy with your guests at the time so had not chimed in.

I thought we would look a little less freakish if we both weren't watching the game *and* typing. :) But I was watching every pitch.

I almost always believe we can win any given game. But besides that, I didn't think bringing Papelbon in was so bizarre. It's October. I expect Francona to manage accordingly.

redsock said...

You two must be the cheeriest people on earth!

This is highly amusing!

at least in the baseball world, you both seem to see the glass as half full most of the time, not half empty.)

As I have said many times, it is the glow of 2004. Before that, weeeeeell ...