Cole Hamels, so good for so much of the season, never gave the Texas Rangers a chance to win Game 1 of the ALDS.
He stunk Thursday at Globe Life Park.
“I’ve thrown that Barry Bonds Jersey pitch a lot this year. Haven’t really got hurt by it,” Porcello said. “Got hurt by it there. You can spin it however you want to spin it. I threw the pitches that I thought were going to be the best pitches to throw, and they hit three balls out of the ballpark.
“Hopefully we win the next Bruce Bochy Jersey three games, but if I get an opportunity in the fifth game, I’ll rectify the mistakes I made.”
Darvish is fairly low-key in the clubhouse when reporters are around, unless he’s joking with fellow starting pitcher Martin Perez. He uses an interpreter at all of his news conferences, but his sense of humor still comes out on occasion.
On the mound, he’s stoic and efficient. Still, he understands the turning point of an inning, a game or a season. At those times, he has been known to punctuate an inning-ending strikeout with a fist pump and a primal scream.
Anyway, Francona laid out his postseason in the fifth inning when he brought in Andrew Miller, maybe the second-best reliever in baseball this season behind Zach Britton. He’s going to ride his bullpen, and he’s going to Miller — the lone lefty in his bullpen — for stints longer than one inning.
He pulled Trevor Bauer after 4 2/3 innings, with two outs and nobody on and the Indians up 4-3. He wasn’t worried about Bauer getting a win. He was worried about the Indians getting the win. Miller gave up a double to Brock Holt and walked Mookie Betts but struck out David Ortiz with his patented nasty slider to escape that inning.
Miller retired the next five batters with ease, throwing a season-high 40 pitches in the process. It was the first time Miller entered in the fifth since 2013, before he established himself as one of the most dominant lefties out there. He pitched in three innings as a reliever for the first time since 2011. In the regular season, you ask less of your relievers in order to conserve them over the course of the long season; in the playoffs, you should ask more of your best ones. That’s what Francona did in Game 1 and what Buck Showalter failed to do in the wild-card game.
2. Francona goes all-in on relief pitch counts. After Holt homered off Bryan Shaw in the eighth to make it a 5-4 game, Francona would go to his closer, Cody Allen, who hadn’t recorded a five-out save all year (although had recorded five or more outs four times). Allen gave up a double to Ortiz, retired Hanley Ramirez on a hard grounder and then fanned Xander Bogaerts on a great battle — after a first-pitch fastball, Allen threw Bogaerts six curveballs in a row, finally getting Bogaerts to chase one.
Allen had another tough battle in the ninth after Andrew Benintendi (future star, this kid) singled with two outs. He threw Dustin Pedroia eight pitches, getting him on a 3-2 curveball in the dirt. Pedroia checked his swing and argued with first-base umpire Phil Cuzzi, but the replay seemed to indicate he went past the gray area, and on the TBS broadcast, Cal Ripken thought it was a swing. Good enough for me. And after the game, Pedroia acknowledged that he went around.