EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 27, 2013

This loss is on Farrell

On Pro Baseball
Christopher Smith

---- — John Farrell pulled a Bobby Valentine and suffered a brain freeze last night.

Why was reliever Brandon Workman batting in the top of the ninth with one out?

It’s inexcusable.

This loss is on Farrell.

The Boston Red Sox dropped Game 3 of the World Series 5-4 without Farrell even using his best hitter on the bench, Mike Napoli, and his best defensive catcher, David Ross.

Instead, Workman struck out on three pitches in the ninth, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia made a wide throw down to third base that resulted in an obstruction call on third baseman Will Middlebrooks that allowed the winning run to score.

Game 4 is tonight at 8:07 p.m. at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium in what is pretty much a must-win for Boston or else this Red Sox team will fall down 3-1 in the best of seven series. Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz starts against Cardinals righty Lance Lynn.

Farrell kept Workman — who had never before recorded a professional at-bat — to bat against St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal. But why? Workman faced just two batters in the bottom of the ninth inning before he was relieved by Koji Uehara.

Farrell seemed to be playing to win the game in the 10th inning but the game never got that far. You have to play to win before you lose. Farrell didn’t do that last night and Boston is in a 2-1 hole because of it.

Does this remind you of anything?

How about Aug. 20 when Farrell brought in Brayan Villarreal to make his Red Sox debut with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning in San Francisco. Villarreal had control problems all year and threw four straight balls to Marco Scutaro. The Giants walked off with a victory and Farrell never used his best reliever, Uehara.

Farrell probably didn’t sleep last night. His decision to pinch hit for Stephen Drew in the top of the seventh backfired on him, too.

But his hands were tied there. You can’t fault him for that.

After all, Drew already was 0 for 2 with two strikeouts, including one with no outs and runners at first and third in the fifth inning. With those two punch outs, Drew’s average dropped .091 (4 for 44) this postseason to go along with 17 strikeouts and just one walk.

That said, Drew, a slick defender, would have made that play on the semi-slow roller to shortstop to start the bottom of the seventh because he would have charged it. Instead, the rookie Xander Bogaerts waited back on it a bit and didn’t make a good throw to first base.

That weak infield single was the beginning of a two-run bottom of the seventh inning that put the Cardinals ahead 4-2.

Again, Drew had tied Farrell’s hands. It was a no-win situation.

Drew basically is an automatic out, something that is difficult for Boston to have in its lineup right now in a National League park with the pitcher batting. The Red Sox can’t have two automatic outs, right?

But then Farrell has to factor in how important defense is during the postseason. Drew not being at shortstop in the bottom of the seventh inning cost the Red Sox big time. So what do you do if you’re Farrell? Does he keep Drew in the lineup today (for run prevention) and downgrade the offense or does he sit Drew and downgrade the defense? One thing is for sure: After Saltalamacchia’s ill-advised throw last night in the ninth inning, which was wide of third baseman Will Middlebrooks, Farrell has to start the better defensive catcher, Ross, today.

Ross should have been in that game late last night.

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB