Taking a Page from the Red Sox

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Walking in runs … coming back late only to lose the game late … and running into the final out. Are you sure this the Boston Red Sox we’re talking about?

We’ve been accustomed to the Blue Jays being guilty of a few of these traits this season, but not the Boston Red Sox, right? It may have only been one game, but in the end Farrell Ball beat out Tito Ball.

It was as if the Blue Jays took a page right out of the Red Sox playbook by working counts late in the game, and letting the opposition work themselves into trouble. This is a trait we haven’t seen on display very often, but it came at the most opportune time.


The turning point in this game was obviously Edwin Encarnacion’s 3-run double, however I thought it was going to be Yunel Escobar’s strikeout with two men on. He took a couple of questionable pitches, and the last one was an outright filthy slider from Daniel Bard.

For Eric Thames to show as much restraint as he did in the following at bat was something very out of character for him, and yet very pleasant surprise. By taking those high fastballs, he allowed Bard to work himself into trouble.

Credit also goes to J.P. Arencibia for drawing a walk as well, down in the count 0-2 and then taking then next four pitches. Arencibia has bit of a reputation as a hacker this season (121 strikeouts in 110 games) and yet again he coaxed the free pass off Bard as well.

When John Farrell commented earlier this week about how he wanted the Blue Jays to play a slow style of baseball similar to the Yankees and Red Sox, I thought he still might be suffering from pneumonia-like symptoms. However, this is evidence why that strategy works.

With an opposing pitcher who was struggling to find the strike zone, the Blue Jays hitters let Daniel Bard go wild, and then punished Matt Albers when he was forced to throw a strike. Their patience paid dividends.

Is it a mere coincidence that two of the most notorious stragglers in baseball are among some of the best? I’m not sure if there’s a direct correlation, but controlling the pace of the game (and at times grinding it to a complete halt) definitely plays in favour of the offenders.

By taking lots of pitches in the 8th inning, the Blue Jays allowed themselves to open a window of opportunity to come back and beat the Red Sox. Now I’m starting to think this tortoise-like pace of baseball isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

5 thoughts on “Taking a Page from the Red Sox

  • September 8, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I hate that you may be right. 3.5 hour baseball games are brutal to watch. To watch a guy like Halladay carve up a team in his half of 140 minutes is so much more enjoyable. I'd rather a faster pace, but we need to have some rules to enforce that all are playing on the same playing field.

  • September 8, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Hey, whatever wins games.
    Thames pulled some serious Jedi-mind trick stuff out there last night. I imagine him at the plate in super slow motion reliving that scene in Empire when Luke is stuck upside down in the ice trying like hell to will the lightsaber out, and then when he calms down and takes a deep breath he just lets it happen.

  • September 8, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Andy, 3.5 hour games might not very conducive to great television for the fans, but if it helps the Blue Jays have the upper hand against the opposition … that's cool with me.

    It's funny because there are rules in place to speed up the game for pitchers and hitters, and yet the umpires don't enforce them.

    BlueJaynator, the force was with Thames.

  • September 8, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    The winning side never thinks the games are too long.

  • September 9, 2011 at 12:30 am

    Section 36, that's an EXCELLENT point. Very well said … so long as it produces results, doesn't really matter how long the game takes!

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