Posted on October 7, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine

Image via BostonGlobe.com

Image via BostonGlobe.com

Game 1 of the ALDS between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox turned into a battle of the bullpens, as both starting pitchers were chased in the 5th inning. Outside of allowing an inherited runner, the Boston bullpen did its job, but with two strong innings from Andrew Miller and getting the final five outs from closer Cody Allen, the Indians were able to secure a win and take a 1-0 lead in the series. However, this will put a little extra pressure on the Game 2 starters to help protect tired bullpens, particularly on Cleveland’s side of things.

Playing Long Ball

We knew heading into this series that both teams could score runs, but few could have predicted the parade of home runs we saw in Game 1. Both teams hit three home runs apiece, with the Indians getting all three of theirs in one inning. Somehow, all six of the game’s home runs were solo shots, essentially evening each other out. This certainly sets the stage for more home runs later in the series; it’s just a matter of what team can get runners on base when they hit those home runs.

Pitching Matchup

Game 2 of this series will feature what will undoubtedly be the best pitching matchup we see in this series: David Price starting for the Red Sox, opposed by Corey Kluber of the Indians. As mentioned earlier, it’ll be important for each starter to go deep in the game, particularly Kluber, as the Indians may not be able to use Miller or Allen in Game 2 after asking so much of each in Game 1. Kluber, of course, is coming off a minor quad injury, and we won’t know until the game starts if he’s at 100%. He’ll also be making his first ever postseason start, adding another element of mystery to his Game 2 start.

On the other side, Price has plenty of postseason experience, appearing in 14 games, including eight starts. However, he has a 2-7 record with a 5.12 ERA in the playoffs. Price was particularly dreadful while pitching for the Blue Jays in last year’s postseason. In four appearances (three starts), Price allowed 16 runs in 23.1 innings, which amounts to a 6.17 ERA. Price desperately needs to put those bad postseason memories behind him and deliver for the Red Sox in Game 2.

Price and Kluber actually matched up against one another on opening day, with Price getting the better of the two, allowing two runs in six innings and striking out 10. Meanwhile, Kluber lasted just 5.1 innings, giving up four runs on nine hits. The Red Sox lineup Kluber faced that day is quite similar to the one he’ll face on Friday, so he’ll have to make adjustments to prevent a repeat of opening day. However, Price will face a Cleveland that’ll be different in at least three or four positions.

X-Factor

Both starting pitchers in Game 2 are good, but neither is a lock to have a brilliant game, especially since both teams are clearly proficient offensively and capable of hitting the long ball, which means defense could be an X-factor in Game 2. One of the most important plays of Game 1 happened in the 1st inning when the Indians orchestrated a perfect relay play to throw out Brock Holt at home plate. The Red Sox scoring one run in the 1st inning instead of two with the inning still alive turned out to be the difference in the game.

Both teams were mostly sound defensively in Game 1, and there will be pressure on each to continue to play good defense the rest of the series, as there doesn’t appear to be much to separate these teams, especially after the underdog Indians took Game 1. A routine play not made, a double-play not turned, or brilliant defensive execution like Cleveland’s 1st inning relay in Game 1 could all end up being the difference in Game 2, or any other game in this series for that matter.

Prediction

It’ll be a quick turnaround from Game 1 to Game 2 for both teams, especially the Red Sox, who will have to put a disappointing Game 1 behind them and refocus on Game 2. The difficulty in predicting Game 2 is due to the uncertainty surrounding both starting pitchers, who both have the potential to pitch well, but also have reasons to think they could struggle. In such a scenario, the favorite has to be the team with the better lineup, which is Boston. Price will get plenty of run support and grind out five decent innings before turning things over to Craig Kimbrel and the bullpen. Boston wins 8-6.

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