By: Andrew Nason
By the 4th pitch of the game, you knew this game wasn’t going to go well for the Boston Red Sox. Batting 2nd as the designated hitter, Eduardo Nunez, who has played in 1 game since suffering a sprained posterior cruciate ligament way back on September 9th, hit a hard ground ball to shortstop Carlos Correa, took one step toward 1st base, and re-aggravated the injury, to the point where he couldn’t even make it to first base. The superstar, mid-season trade acquisition by the Sox crumpled to the ground and had to be carried off the field, and is likely out for the remainder of the ALDS, if not longer.
With a healthy Hanley Ramirez on the bench and the clear evidence that Nunez wasn’t ready to play, myself, and most Red Sox fans wondered, why in the world did John Farrell play Nunez?
When asked this question, Farrell’s response left me dumbfounded. "He had been cleared prior to the start of this series," Farrell said. "The number of tests that we put him through felt like he had satisfied all that we could simulate, but it was apparent trying to go game speed we saw what transpired."
So, Nunez hadn’t actually undergone a test that would have had him moving at any sort of game speed? All this leaves me wondering is what sort of test they actually put him through, because that man couldn’t take one step without hurting himself.
I don’t blame Nunez for what happened. He’s an athlete and a competitor. He wants to be out there, and I would have done the same thing. He wanted to do his job. Farrell on the other hand, has one job, and that’s put the best lineup he can out on the field every game, and he failed to do that. He failed horribly, and that poor decision has likely lost us one of our best hitters for an extended period of time, if we are so lucky to advance.
But enough about Nunez, I hope he gets better. Now let’s fast forward to the second inning. The Sox are down 2-0 after Chris Sale gave up back to back jacks to Alex Bregman and likely MVP Jose Altuve. The Sox have 2 outs, with Mitch Moreland on 2nd, Dustin Pedroia on 1st, and Sandy Leon at the plate. Leon singles to right, Moreland comes home, and Pedroia gets tossed out at 3rd. Inning over, 1 run scores. Why did Pedroia try to get to 3rd on a shallow single to right? Yes, it’s 2 outs and he’s being aggressive, but here are the facts. Him getting thrown out nearly cost us a run, as Moreland barely crossed home plate before the tag on Pedroia, and, I’ll say it, he had no chance of reaching 3rd. So again, why try it? Did he make a dumb baseball decision? Yes. Did Butterfield make a bad call? Yes? But who is the man who wants the Sox making aggressive (and by aggressive, I mean stupid) decisions on the base paths? You guessed it, John Farrell. I’m all for aggressive base running, I think it’s an underrated part of the game that can give a team an edge, but what Farrell has the Red Sox doing out there is costing us runs, not creating them. The Red Sox made 81 out on the bases this season, the next closest team was the Yankees, with 70. Farrell’s base running philosophy is hurting this already offensively challenged team.
And finally, we get to Chris Sale. He sucked, but this isn’t about that. This is about the fact that he was left in the game far, far too long. Sale didn’t have anything the whole night. After Altuve’s 2nd bomb off of him in the 5th, that should have been it. This is your ace, the guy you basically sold your farm system for. If you have any hope of winning this series, you need him to be at his best for a potential game 4 or 5 start. After what we saw for the first 5 innings, there was no need to trot him out for the 6th and let him get smacked around anymore. But no, Farrell let him go back out there, give up a double to Evan Gattis and then walk Josh Reddick before coming to his senses and bringing in Joe Kelly, basically waving the white flag.
You sucked last night John Farrell, no other way to put it, you sucked. And if you want any shot at making this a series, you need to be the leader we need you to be, a leader who makes smart decisions, or next season we’ll go out and find someone else who will.