Red Sox won't alter approach against tough Cards 'pen
Dominant in postseason, St. Louis' relief corps features several flamethrowers
BOSTON -- Work the pitch count, get into the team's bullpen and do damage. It's the Red Sox's mantra at the plate, right?
Wrong, says catcher David Ross, who believes the media came to that conclusion. The Red Sox are just looking for strikes, and if that means seeing more pitches to get a strike, so be it.
"We don't really try to get into a bullpen," Ross said. "Never once in a meeting do we [plan to] try to get up pitch counts."
And against the Cardinals in the World Series (Game 1 on Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET air time on FOX/8:07 p.m. first pitch) there's really no reason to.
Perhaps the biggest difference the Red Sox will have to deal with this World Series compared what they saw in the American League Championship Series: a harder-throwing, more dominant bullpen.
While Boston struck for seven runs in 12 2/3 innings (4.97 ERA) off the Tigers' bullpen while their starters held them to nine runs in 39 1/3 innings (2.06 ERA) in the ALCS, the Cardinals' relief corps was throwing up zeros in the National League Championship Series.
Well, not on the scoreboard; Cardinals relievers did allow three runs over 19 innings (1.42 ERA) in the NLCS. But they were throwing up zeros on the radar gun.
Here's a sample at who has been most frequently coming out of the St. Louis bullpen, with the relievers' average fastball speed during the postseason:
Carlos Martinez, 100.2 mph.
Trevor Rosenthal, 98.8.
Kevin Siegrist, 97.7.
John Axford, 96.9.
Since the beginning of September, the Cardinals lead the Majors with an average fastball velocity of 94.
"They're bringing in guys that all throw 100 and have filthy stuff," said Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava.
Conventional wisdom then says Boston will need to do its damage against St. Louis' starting pitchers. But the Cards' starters have been almost as good (2.43 ERA in NLCS).
Don't expect any changes in the Red Sox's philosophy.
"I don't think our approach will change," Nava said. "We have to stick with what we've had all year. We know their bullpen is solid, we know their starting pitching is good.
"You want to get them early for sure. If we don't, will our guys be pressing? Not at all."
The Red Sox were a come-from-behind team for much of the regular season, winning 30 of their 97 games in such fashion. They had two memorable comeback wins in the ALCS, hitting a pair of grand slams off Tigers' relievers to lead them to victories in Games 2 and 6.
While it may be a more difficult task against the dart-throwing Cardinals relievers, the Red Sox are up for it.
"Starting with Tampa, starting with the playoffs, you don't get to the playoffs not being good," said outfielder Jonny Gomes. "You don't get to the World Series not being good. I mean, any team in the NL is going to have a good bullpen. You need a good bullpen to go to the World Series. You need good starters. You need good offense. You need good everything.
"There are no Cinderella stories in the World Series. Regardless which team we drew, and we're fortunate enough to go. It's going to be a heavyweight battle."