Red Sox Notes: Boston Must Be More Aggressive In ALDS, But Team Isn’t Worried

by NESN Staff

October 9, 2016

BOSTON –The Red Sox need to take a more aggressive approach in Game 3 of their American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians. They’re confident that they can.

Game 3 was postponed until Monday after steady rain at Fenway Park washed out Sunday’s contest, but the Red Sox are sure the extra day of rest won’t worsen the problems that plagued them in losses in the first two games of the series. And that includes their struggle to put good contact on the ball.

“I think what we showed from Game 1 to Game 2, in Game 1 clearly we expanded the strike zone quite a bit,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said before the game was called Sunday. “And that’s not just one guy in particular. You look at the number of breaking balls and the number of fastballs above the zone, we did a good job against (Indians starter Corey) Kluber (in Game 2), yet the bottom-line results were no different.

“We’ve just got to get back to play our brand of baseball. And that is relentless at-bats, that is being aggressive on the base paths when the opportunities present, and just going out, honestly, compared to Game 2, just play a better game all around.”

The Red Sox looked lost in Games 1 and 2, losing both thanks to a combination of their starters giving up big innings and breaking pitches baffling their batters. But at the end of the day, they’re still the team that won a tough AL East division and turned in a dominant September, which included an 11-game win streak.

“We?ve won more than three games in a row a whole lot this season, so we just need a spark,” reliever Brad Ziegler said Sunday. “Just need something to go out and get us going, let us play our brand of baseball, and once that happens, then we?ll be fine.”

Here are some more notes from rainy Fenway.

— Game 3 is scheduled to start at 6:08 p.m. ET Monday, which is when Game 4 would have started. If the Red Sox win Game 3, the teams will lose their travel day and play Game 4 on Tuesday at Fenway, but there’s no start time yet. If Boston forces a Game 5, it will take place as scheduled at 6:08 p.m. Wednesday in Cleveland.

— Right fielder Mookie Betts hasn’t been a hit machine this series like he usually is, going 1-for-6 with two walks over the first two games. And while the entire team has struggled at the plate, opposing pitchers also have become more calculated when facing Betts.

“I guess the only thing that might stand out as far as an attack plan is it’s been predominantly away,” Farrell said of the pitches Betts has been seeing. “We know his power is to the pull side. There’s been maybe a willingness to not challenge him in some certain counts.

“If he’s in the hitter’s count, then it’s okay to pass on and move on to the next guy. That’s what we’ve seen. Whether it’s been 2-1, 3-1 type of counts, they’re still not giving in to him. When pitches have been thrown in, they’ve been to the edge or off. The misses have been to the extreme in on him. So, again, he’s being pitched to quite a bit with a constant mix away versus anything that might find its way to the inner part of the plate.”

— The Red Sox are going to use Sunday to relax and get their minds right, and apparently, Ziegler thinks dogs are really going to help some of his teammates. No, seriously:

It might sound silly, but can you think of many things more relaxing than sitting at home on your couch with your pets? Ziegler might be on to something here.

— Indians (and former Red Sox) manager Terry Francona had an interesting tidbit about coaching a small market team over a big market franchise. As you can imagine, things are much different in Cleveland than in Boston when it comes to payroll and acquiring players.

“I know when I was going to come to Cleveland four years ago, (president) Chris (Antonetti) sat me down and really had an honest conversation about some of our challenges, which I think he was worried that maybe I’d be excited for a little while and then get frustrated. And I appreciated that. Because it is a little bit different in the winter. Not now. When the game starts, it’s the game. But sometimes the neighborhood you work in is a little different during the winter.

“I think we don’t have the ability to — if we make a mistake, it can hurt us not just for this year but for the next year. And so we have to be very cognizant of that. That’s why I thought Chris and his guys did such a good job this winter. They stayed at (first baseman Mike) Napoli. That could have gone away a lot of times. And they signed (outfielder Rajai Davis) and (third baseman Juan) Uribe. Those were our three. … And Raj and Napoli have been huge parts of our team. And it didn’t undo our pay scale. I thought Chris’ guys deserved a ton of credit for that. It wasn’t as easy as it looked.”

Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images

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