{}
CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

{"content":["ALCS" ] }

Chess Match: Sox 'pen taxed

Chess Match: Sox 'pen taxed

|
BOSTON -- The Rays came out with a game plan for hitting knuckleballer Tim Wakefield on Tuesday. The results put the Red Sox in a bind for managing their bullpen.

complete postseason coverage

The flip side of Tampa Bay's onslaught of nine runs or more in each of the last three games of this American League Championship Series was the damage it has inflicted on Boston's bullpen. Wakefield was the third straight Red Sox starter not to make it through the sixth inning, and it's taking a toll on the innings workload for the relievers.

After Tuesday's 13-4 Rays win in Game 4, the Red Sox bullpen could use a day off. Given the situation in the game, however, manager Terry Francona couldn't give them a breather Tuesday night.

Keep on running
The situation:
The Rays pounce on Wakefield for three runs in the first four batters thanks to back-to-back home runs from Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria.


Watch the play WATCH

The decision: The Rays keep up the pressure on the basepaths against Wakefield, whose knuckleball makes him an easy target for stolen bases.

The outcome: Carl Crawford steals two bases -- third base in the opening inning, then second base in the third inning. Willy Aybar's two-run homer drives him home in the third.

The analysis: This was not an offensive effort fueled by running, but it was the best baserunning output all series from a Rays squad that likes to use its speed to create scoring opportunities. Whether that aggressiveness carries into Game 5 against Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka will be interesting to watch.

Call to the bullpen
The situation:
After a three-run first inning, Wakefield is back on the ropes in the third thanks to Aybar's two-run homer.


Watch the play WATCH

The decision: After Dioner Navarro follows Aybar with a single, Francona makes the call to pull Wakefield and replaces him with Justin Masterson, who has been a big presence for the Red Sox in the middle to late innings.

The outcome: Masterson turns in some decent long relief, holding the Rays to a run over his 2 1/3 innings.

The analysis: Normally, it would seem like a situation for a traditional long reliever, but Paul Byrd had been used the night before. Given how heavily the Red Sox bullpen has been used lately, there weren't many fresh arms available.

The explanation: "We warmed [Masterson] up in the first. If we had gotten to [Jason] Bartlett [that inning], we were going to go to him. Once we got through that, he was the guy that was hot, and he was the guy [in the third] we felt could give us ... two-plus [innings], get us to a manageable part of the game. Again, it's not a very good situation, and he did a pretty good job. But again we were in a difficult spot." -- Francona

Delcarmen derailed
The situation:
Masterson keeps the Rays relatively contained for 2 1/3 innings before the Red Sox have to go back into the bullpen for the sixth.


Watch the play WATCH

The decision: Francona goes to Manny Delcarmen, who hadn't pitched since Game 2.

The outcome: Delcarmen retires Fernando Perez to lead off the sixth, then gives up five straight baserunners, including back-to-back walks to force in a run.

The analysis: Delcarmen might well have been the trickle-down effect of the Masterson decision, leaving the Red Sox with limited options for the middle innings once Masterson kept them close.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["ALCS" ] }
{"content":["ALCS" ] }
Boys and Girls Club of America

©2014 MLBAM, LP. All rights reserved.

The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions. Use of the Website signifies your agreement to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (updated May 24, 2013).

View MLB.com in English | En Español