Switching up versus Wakefield
Bottom of the first inning, nobody out, Grady Sizemore on first and Asbrubal Cabrera up.
The switch-hitting Cabrera bats right-handed against the right-handed Wakefield. Two batters later, the switch-hitting Victor Martinez does the same.
Both Cabrera and Martinez are retired their first two times at the plate, but they both hit RBI singles off Wakefield in the decisive seven-run fifth.
The move to bat righty-on-righty against Wakefield is nothing new. Some switch-hitters have done it for several years under the idea that it's easier to see his knuckleball that way out of his short-armed delivery. Others have caught on as word has spread around. Hard to tell if it made a difference, but both singles from Cabrera and Martinez came on knuckleballs.
"You've got to give credit to the guys coming up later, some of the two-strike base hits, Asdrubal and Vic. Those guys were battling up there and came up with some huge hits."
-- Blake, on Cabrera and Martinez
Bottom of the fifth, two outs, runners at first and second for Jhonny Peralta in a 3-0 game.
The decision: Francona takes out Wakefield in favor of reliever Manny Delcarmen.
Four consecutive Indians batters reach base safely, starting with Peralta's three-run homer and continuing with a Blake RBI single.
Wakefield's darting knuckleball wasn't fooling anybody anymore besides Travis Hafner, and Francona went to the hard-throwing Delcarmen in hopes that the transition would overpower Peralta. Delcarmen was throwing gas, but it went right onto the fire that Wakefield left, making it a 7-0 Cleveland lead by the time he finally recorded the third out.
"The formula that we used tonight, bringing in Manny Delcarmen behind Wake, is something we've done a lot this year because just of the differential and the speeds giving hitters different looks. He fell behind 2-1, tried to go up and away, really elevated a ball that Jhonny caught up with. I know I'm stating the obvious, it's a big blow in the game. If we can stop the bleeding right there, it certainly gives us a much better chance."
Nothing personal about the catcher
Middle of the sixth with a 7-3 Indians lead after Coco Crisp flies out to end the top of the inning, with Jason Varitek on deck to pinch-hit.
The decision: Francona inserts Varitek to catch, thus ensuing that he'll lead off the top of the seventh.
Varitek catches a scoreless sixth, then slaps a single through the left side leading off the seventh. He's retired two pitches later when Julio Lugo hits into a double play.
If it were a one- or two-run game, maybe Francona would've had a reason to give Mirabelli another half-inning behind the plate and pinch-hit a traditional leadoff man such as Jacoby Ellsbury in the bottom half. But down four runs in the seventh, the Red Sox simply needed hits and runners, not run manufacturing.
"We still came back with a lot of energy and swung the bats the next inning, but we really dug ourselves a big hole."
-- Francona, on rebounding from the fifth