The Red Sox comeback may not have happened if....
Knowing everything you know about the 2013 Boston Red Sox, why would Jim Leyland believe his bullpen could get 6 outs, especially in back-to-back games? Yes, they were sucessful in getting nine crucial outs in game 1, but with the history of this bullpen, why not avoid that situation?
My first thought once the game ended was to check the box score to see how many pitches Max Scherzer threw in the game. Now I was switching back and forth between the Cowboys/Redskins and this game. When I didn't see Scherzer step onto the mound to start the 8th inning I assumed he had a very high pitch count.
I was rather shocked to see he threw only 108 pitches. I then looked up Scherzer's game log for the season. I thought perhaps he didn't throw much more than 108 in many of his starts. However, come to find out he threw more than 110 pitches in 12 starts, and in his final start threw a season-high 123. Oh, and if you're wondering, he threw 118 pitches in his postseason start against the A's.
There's an old thought in baseball when trailing in a game. If you're down by four runs you're only a grand slam away from tying the game. And as I mentioned earlier, this is Fenway Park, and you're not exactly handing the ball over to the law firm of Rivera and Wetteland from the '96 World Series.
The Tigers bullpen is the lone concern and weakness of this team. Jose Valverde was the most reliable closer this team had, but he continually failed in a big spot, and was cut earlier this year after being brought back because they couldn't trust any closer on the team.
This was the most important game the Tigers were playing this season. You have a 5-1 lead in Fenway Park, and your ace is on the mound with a chance to go up two games to none, and you're heading back to Detroit with Justin Verlander on the mound for game three.
If there's ever a game to ask Max Scherzer for one more inning--this is that game. He didn't even have to finish the inning; getting one or two outs would've taken that much more pressure off the bullpen. And I'm not asking him to throw 142 pitches like Al Leiter did in the 2000 World Series. Scherzer could've finished the 8th with less than 130. No harm done.
And I don't want to hear about a need to trust the bullpen. Yes, it provided three solid innings in game one. I just feel when your ace is on the mound, he must hand the ball to the closer. Ego's cannot play a part in the postseason. A manager has to win by any means necassary. Get an out when called upon, and if your name isn't called--deal with it.
As a Yankees fan, I have seen countless postseason games in which the starter went 8 innings and handed the ball to the legend Mariano Rivera.
I will guarantee Justin Verlander pitches at least 8 innings in game 3. This is the ALCS, you must play these games like there is no tomorrow. The opportunity lost in game two could cost the Tigers a trip to the World Series.