October 4, 2005

ALDS 1: White Sox 14, Red Sox 2

Matt Clement had nothing -- absolutely nothing -- and Terry Francona left him in the game way too long.

Two HBP, two singles, a stolen base and a three-run home run gave Chicago a 5-0 lead after one inning. Clement had an easy second -- because Jason Varitek threw out Scott Podsednik trying to steal second -- but got hit (literally) in the third.

Clement allowed a one-out home run to Paul Konerko (6-0), then was drilled in the leg by a Carl Everett comebacker. Clement recovered and threw Everett out, and Tito and the trainer came out to see if Clement was hurt. This might have been the best time to pull him. (It was hard to figure out when the Red Sox pen got up; ESPN was unable to give that information.) Jeremi Gonzalez is on the roster for exactly this situation. Bronson Arroyo would have been a good choice, also.

Francona kept Clement in the game. His first pitch to Aaron Rowand was fouled straight back -- and Clement visibly flinched. Rowand lined out to left. Through three innings, Clement wasn't fooling anyone. Even with a wide strike zone he was failing, throwing weak fastballs and flat sliders, and missing location on just about every pitch that ended up being lined for a hit.

Boston scored twice in the fourth -- singles from Trot Nixon and Varitek, a double by Kevin Millar and an infield error -- to cut the score to 6-2. For some reason, Francona let Clement start the fourth. Big mistake, and one many Sox fans were first-guessing.

AJ Pierzynski ripped Clement's second pitch into the right field corner for a double. After Jose Crede flew to right, Juan Uribe crushed a two-run home run to left. 8-2.

Finally, Francona decided Clement was done. How many other managers would leave in a totally ineffective starter to surrender eight runs in 3.1 innings of a playoff game? ... It was the continuation of Clement's horrible September (33 innings, 38 hits, 24 runs, 16 walks).

(If you're wondering if Clement's poor second half was perhaps caused (in part) by getting hit with the line drive in Tampa, SoSHer soxfaninyankeeland posted this:
In the four starts before getting hit in the head, Clement threw 25 innings, gave up 28 hits, 10 walks and 22 earned runs for an ERA of 7.92. The Tampa Bay game is a convenient demarcation point, but he pitched poorly before it happened, and pitched well for a short time after it happened.)
And when he went to the pen, Francona brought in -- not Gonzalez, not Arroyo -- but one of the OOgies, Chad Bradford. Chadford retired the four guys he faced, on only 17 pitches, so he should be able to face a couple of guys tomorrow. (Or he better be, or his use today was even stupider.)

Gonzalez allowed four runs in the sixth (walk, HBP, single, 3-run HR). In the eighth, Arroyo allowed a home run to the first hitter he faced (Pierzynski, who hit a double, two home runs and scored four times), then walked two guys and allowed an RBI single.

I would have liked to have seen either of those two in the third or fourth. They might have pitched just as poorly if they had been used earlier -- or they might have pitched better. It's impossible to know, but using them when the game was within reach would have made more sense.

Why did Francona keep Arroyo out of a 6-2 game in the fourth inning, but had him pitch in the eighth inning of a 12-2 game? It made no sense.

Yanking Clement earlier might not have made much of a difference. Jose Contreras, emboldened with the early lead, pitched well, aided by many impatient Red Sox hitters. In both the first and third innings, Manny Ramirez came up with a runner in scoring position and ended the rally by hacking at the first pitch. ... Contreras threw six pitches in the sixth; he needed only nine for the seventh.

A horrible loss, but let's remember it's only one game. If Wells pitches effectively and the bats do even a fraction of what they can do, Boston will win, the series will be tied, and the Red Sox will have home field advantage in a best 2-of-3. (Though who do you want in a potential Game 5: Clement or Arroyo?)


Anonymous said...

Arroyo should have been used early..in the 3rd inning. But oh well..its the first game and this is what the Sox do generally..they are the underdogs and it wouldn't be exciting if it came to us easily! GO SOX!

Anonymous said...

Fran-fuck-o proved once again that when a real manager would have pulled Clement, he was only beginning to get someone warmed up. He's always a couple batters behind the game, and, so embarassingly, Red Sox Nation.

Not that it would have mattered tonight, anyway. Go Sox. Get 'em Boomer.

Earl said...

We can complain about Francona all we want, but really: the Red Sox lost by 12. Pulling Clement in the 4th vs. the 3rd vs. the 2nd wouldn't have made a bit of difference, as it turns out. The less of the bullpen used, the better. Myers, Timlin, and Papelbon weren't used, and that's something to be happy about.

Bottom line: the starting pitching was terrible, the offense didn't show up. When that happens, it's...not easy to win. Hopefully tomorrow Wells will pitch like the big-game pitcher he is, and he'll get the run support he's gotten all season.

Anonymous said...

0 -1 in the post season. Oh, well, at least we saw a pitcher who looked to be near the top of his game (no, not Clement!), and we saw an unusual, great play from deep second, by Iguchi, that if it had failed might have opened up the flood gates but instead worked out wonderfully for the Sox (White) and killed any pretense of a rally.

Now we’ll see if pitching and defense really win in the post season. Wait till Wednesday!

I read with new eyes Bob Ryan’s superb column on Manny, in Monday’s Boston Globe, “Ramirez man of the hour” after following the links provided here on the 10/03 ALDS post to the “Dan Shaughnessy Watch” blog and then to Sheriff Sully’s site “Sheriff Sully” for his recounting of his days with the Boston Globe sports desk: a bit of a journey but well worth it. If you take the time to take that trip you’ll know what I mean about reading Bob Ryan with new eyes.

I enjoy following links that people provide and redsock gave a good one there that I heartily recommend.

But back to the game, Clement inspires no confidence in me and I doubt he ever will. I also wonder if Wells can come up big again, partly because of the White Sox and partly because of his condition. I hope.

One thing’s for sure, the bats need to wake up and come alive. Wednesday’s game may just be a must win for our Sox. And we’re stuck with ESPN for the duration? Sucko!

Go Sox (Red)!

Anonymous said...

I was at the game...there was absolutely no one up either before or after Clement was hit by Everett's line drive...not until the next inning right before the home run did anyone begin to even stretch. Pathetic managing, almost as if he decided to concede the game after the first inning. The fact that he brought in Arroyo late is inexcusable. All of us at the game thought that Arroyo not coming in in the first few innings meant that Terry was saving him for a potential game five...oh well, hope we've got 3 in a row in us b/c i don't have a clue who will step on that mound on Sunday.

DanM said...

I suppose it is late to do something about the pitching, eh? Coaching too, eh?

All things considered I enjoyed watching Contreras pitching one heck of a game. Even lamented to my wife that I wish we had pitching like that too! But, last year it was Yuckees 3 BoSox 0 - and we won. Hang on, the winds are blowing na dthe storm has begun - Go Sox (BoSox that is!)

Anonymous said...

I, too, was absolutely stupified to once again watch Tito's asleep-at-the-switch bullpen management approach in the first game of this series.

You could clearly see in the first inning that Clement had nothing. Can anyone recall a game - playoff or otherwise - where a starter hit two of the first three batters he faced? In the very first inning?!

The bullpen should have been at DEFCON 5 after Pierzynski's bomb that made it 5-0, and Francoma most certainly should have yanked him after the solo shot that took it to 6-0.

I don't know which was worse - the fact that Tito's malaise resulted in no one being up in the pen, or that the ESPN holy trinity of Sutcliffe, Berman, and Piazza could not provide any 411 on same.

It's one game, and even a sharp Clement and a wide awake Francoma may have proved to be no match for the Chisox bats and a magnificent outing from Contreras. However, the only way that Clement should get back in the game this series is if he purchases a ticket to get into the park, and Tito should be horse-whipped if he even thinks of trotting him back to the hill if we see a Game 5.

Papi's comments about Clement in today's Globe said it all..

Anonymous said...

I think the irrational Tito-hate around here knows no bounds. Clement lost the game in the first inning. Done and done.

Anonymous said...

"Though who do you want in a potential Game 5: Clement or Arroyo?"

Arroyo tends to have crappy first innings, but it's pretty clear early on if he's going to settle down and pitch a good game.

Clement has been throwing mud for weeks now, and mgmt seems content to send him out there game after game.

Enough, already. Let the guitar player do it.

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree with the comment that bringing Arroyo in earlier wouldn't have made the difference.

The game was still within reach as of the 3rd and even the start of the bottom of the 4th innings.

Bring in someone who can go the rest of the game (Bronson) and the offense could rally to make it close.

You can't assume that just because he gave up some runs in the 8th that Arroyo would have done the same if he'd come in to salvage this in the 2nd, 3rd or 4th.

By the time Francoma used him, the game was already a laugher.

Anonymous said...

Here's a vote for not blowing out the bullpen on a likely loss and leaving in Clement long enough to find out what he's made of.
We've seen the other four starters compose themselves after rotten starts; now we know we can't expect Matt to do the same. If Tito trots him out for a Game #5, it will join Denny Galehouse for the '48 play-off and Lonborg on two days rest for Game 7 in the '67 Series as the worst starter choices in Sox history. My guess is that Clement's failure to bear down with it 6-0 ensures that he won't get the nod, and if that's true, it was worth it.

allan said...

Clement lost the game in the first inning. Done and done.

Right. So why we he still around in the fourth, when he had less than nothing?

I don't hate Francona. But I hated the decision to keep Clement in there.

Upthread, Darren Madigan said:

I was at the game...there was absolutely no one up either before or after Clement was hit by Everett's line drive...not until the next inning right before the home run did anyone begin to even stretch.

That is unacceptable.

Edward Lee said...

Jack, I agree with you. In a Game 7 you'd give Clement a quick hook (cf. Roger Clemens in the 2003 ALCS Game 7), but you can't blow out the bullpen in Game 1 of the first round.