Method to Maddon's madness
October, 9, 2013
By Chris Girandola, Special to ESPNBoston.com
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- In Tuesday's Game 5 loss to the Red Sox, Rays manager Joe Maddon used a record-setting nine pitchers for a nine-inning game, including starter Jeremy Hellickson, who lasted just one inning. In addition, the Rays skipper had ace David Price (and the scheduled Game 5 starter) warming up in the bullpen in the ninth inning. Was that his plan all along?
"The plan was that (Hellickson) would have gone longer than just the three outs," Maddon said. "Originally I thought or had hoped for Hellie getting through the lineup one time and maybe through (Dustin) Pedroia and then turning it over at that point. If he got off really good and stayed good, I would have let him go on farther. We had to do something differently (when Hellickson loaded the bases to start the second inning). We became a little bit more extemporaneous at that point."
Maddon proceeded to try to piece together a puzzle leading to set-up man Joel Peralta and closer Fernando Rodney with the chance to extend the series. The plan worked up until the seventh when Peralta's wild pitch allowed Xander Bogaerts to score the tying run and Shane Victorino's infield single brought home Jacoby Ellsbury, who was steal on the wild pitch and ended up going from first to third, for the eventual winner.
When Rodney loaded the bases in the ninth, Maddon brought in Chris Archer, then Wesley Wright, which emptied the pen. The Sox scored another run, but Maddon still had hope, which meant getting Price up.
"I did not plan on David," Maddon said.
Maddon came away impressed by Red Sox, who advanced to the ALCS for the fifth time in the last 12 seasons after last year's forgettable season. The Sox earned a victory despite recording just six singles, the first time they won a postseason contest without the benefit of an extra-base hit since Game 1 of the 1986 World Series.
"They were really good," Maddon said. "They didn't make mistakes. You could see their grit. I talked about from spring training on, I think they've really promoted the character within that group, and they're just gamers. They've got a bunch of gamers over there."
Maddon also explained how the Red Sox succeeded with a well-built combination of pitching, defense and offense.
"They have all that stuff going on," Maddon said. "They have a wonderful bullpen. They're just good, man. They're the reason we're sitting here not winning right now. I want to give them a lot of credit, John (Farrell) and the entire Red Sox organization what they've done this year. Based on the difficulties they faced last year. Obviously, they made some wonderful decisions and they deserve to advance. I commend them."