Two things stood out for me. One was the absence of Paul Byrd. With Tim Wakefield tabbed for Game 4, Byrd is on the roster for two reasons:
1) Long man if the starter gets bombedBoth scenarios came up last night, but Francona never went with Byrd. Indeed, he was the only relief picther that Francona did not use last night.
2) Multiple innings after the top bullpen arms have been used
Tito kept a totally ineffective Josh Beckett on the hill to get repeatedly pounded, presumably because the Red Sox bats had kept the score close. Tito said he wanted to get five innings out of Beckett in order to "set up the bullpen".
Later in the game, Francona pulled Jonathan Papelbon after only 18 pitches -- with an off-day today, why? -- and went with Mike Timlin to start the 11th against the Rays' 7-8-9 hitters. Bot was struck by Carl Crawford's line drive that became the second out in the 10th, but he said he was not bothered by that. "It hit my glove first and then grazed my arm."
While Timlin (who admitted afterwards that he had been "nervous") was squeezed by the home plate umpire -- he clearly struck out Navarro, who walked and was pulled for pinch-runner Fernando Perez, who scored the winning run -- he should have been the absolute last resort out of the pen.
Amalie Benjamin explains that Byrd was being held back in case the game went really long. But Byrd is the better pitcher and he should have been used before Timlin.
And what can we expect from a most-likely injured Beckett in a possible Game 6? He says he's "fine", but I don't think too many people believe that.
NLCS: Phillies (2)/Dodgers (0) at 8.
We opted for the delay of ESPN radio so we missed Chip "Deeeeep Into The Night" Caray. He has apparently dropped any and all pretense of impartiality. You can listen to the difference in his home run calls here -- check out Upton versus Yook or Pedroia or his call on the game-tying wild pitch. Feel free to tell TBS how you are enjoying its coverage:
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