Today, there was one article on ESPN that caught my eye. It was by Buster Olney, and it depicted the struggle the Cardinals pitching was having against the Red Sox – and why. Here are the tidbits of importance:
The Cardinals’ pitching staff is stacked with veterans of guile, pitchers who try to trick hitters with a mix of hard and soft stuff. But St. Louis has one very serious problem in this World Series: The patient Red Sox batters aren’t taking the bait.
But [the previous paragraph detailed how the Red Sox do not fare that well against power pitchers and pitchers who pound the strike zone] the Cardinals don’t have hard throwers or pitchers who pound the strike zone. Woody Williams, Matt Morris and tonight’s Game 3 starter, Jeff Suppan, all have similar approaches — they flirt with the strike zone and try to entice the hitters to swing at bad pitches. Some of the Cardinals’ relievers work this way, also, and it served them well throughout the regular season.
The St. Louis staff threw 356 pitches in the first two games of the series, and the Boston hitters swung and missed only 19 times, incredibly, along with 61 foul balls. Time and again, the Cardinals’ pitchers get to two strikes, but they cannot finish off Red Sox batters. So far in this series, Boston has drawn 14 walks, and accumulated only eight strikeouts.
The discipline extends throughout their lineup. Johnny Damon saw 45 pitches in the first two games and swung and missed only twice. Ramirez saw 38 pitches, and he swung and missed just twice. Bill Mueller has seen 43 pitches — and has yet to swing and miss in this World Series.
That speaks for itself and allows me to segue into the point I want to segue into: No one … knows … what … will … happen. You can point to Pedro, who will make his first start of the World Series ever (he just has to deliver, there’s no way he won’t!) … but he gives up a lot of home-runs which the Cardinals like to hit. Oh, but the Cardinals won’t be used to Pedro, so I’m sure they’ll be less familiar with him and that will work to his advantange … but the Cardinals are at home, and Pedro is not as dominating as he once was.
Oh, but Suppan just can’t pitch against American League hitters to save his life … but he was 2-1 with a 2.87 ERA in the postseason, and outpitched Roger Clemens. Yes, but don’t forget, he’s not as good at home than he was on the road. On the road during the regular season, he was 10-0. (6-9 at home.) Yes, but the Red Sox are the ’27 Yankees at home and the ’03 Tigers on the road.
You … just … don’t … know.
To further illustrate my point:
Quite an uncanny resemblance (refer to table at left). Virtually the same BB and HRs given up – and also take a look at the ERA – so close it’s almost negligible. The only difference is the Ks which can actually make a difference. If there is a man on third, a strikeout does not advance the runner, while a grounder to short could possibly score the runner (and there you have the possible difference in ERA). It is this we will have to exploit. And this is why I showed you the excerpts of the Olney column – because now we know we can. We will NOT rely on “Vintage Pedro” or “Suppan, AL-loser” or “Cards not used to Pedro” or “Suppan Can’t Pitch At Home”.
What we need to do is what the Cardinals could not do – win away. The Cardinals get a Red Sox in Fenway-eqsue jump in batting average while we get a Cardinals away-esque drop in batting average. This really is the battle of homefield, and fortunately, it is in our favor. The Cardinals squeaked away with it during the NLCS as they won the National League Homefield Championship Series, losing all three away and winning all four at home.
I now draw your attention to an article by Kevin Kernan, in the NY Post. Again, the neccessary info:
These Red Sox have become a postseason machine, and just like the Patriots it’s not always pretty, but the job gets done. The Red Sox have won six straight postseason games