Instant Replay: Pedroia Powerful When Patient
The Red Sox may have lost Game 2 of the ALCS, and the performance of their erstwhile ace Josh Beckett has created quite the dilemma for manager Terry Francona going forward. Still, at least one of the team's big questions was answered emphatically during the game: Dustin Pedroia has arrived in the 2008 postseason.
Before the game, Pedroia had only two hits through five postseason games. No more. The diminutive second baseman came through with three hits -- two of them solo homers -- and a key walk among his six at-bats, making his presence felt in a big way. How did Pedroia turn the tide? He went back to one of the things that makes him such an intelligent and dangerous hitter; he was incredibly patient, watching more pitches than he did in the ALDS or in Game 1 against James Shields and the Rays bullpen.
Here's how Pedroia turned his postseason around:
First Inning: Scott Kazmir pitching, one out, bases empty.
-- Pitch One: Pedroia cuts hard on a 93 mile-per-hour fastball from Kazmir that slides along the inside edge of the plate and fouls it off. Strike one on a good pitch that Pedroia could have made better contact with.
-- Pitch Two: Kazmir throws a 92 mph fastball that misses high and outside. Pedroia watches it for ball one.
-- Pitch Three: Kazmir throws another 92 mph fastball that catches the outside edge of the plate while Pedroia watches. Strike two.
-- Pitch Four: Kazmir throws a fourth-straight fastball high over the middle of the plate. Pedroia fouls it off to stay alive, but could have made better contact, again.
-- Pitch Five: Moving away from heaters, Kazmir offers up an 82 mph slider right over the middle of the plate. Pedroia makes good contact but lofts the ball to dead center field, where B.J. Upton is waiting for an easy fly out.
Verdict: Pedroia fouled off two hittable pitches and flied out on a third. Clearly, he wanted more out of his first at-bat, but the out showed glimpses of what was to come.
Third Inning: Kazmir pitching, no outs, bases empty.
-- Pitch One: Kazmir delivers a 90 mph fastball over the top outside edge of the plate. Pedroia watches it for strike one.
-- Pitch Two: Kazmir switches to a slider, throwing an 80 mph offering inside off the plate. Pedroia watches it for a ball.
-- Pitch Three: Back to fastball, Kazmir misses outside off the plate with a 91 mph pitch. Pedroia watches it for ball two.
-- Pitch Four: Kazmir tosses another 91 mph fastball, this one missing inside. Pedroia watches it sail by for ball three.
-- Pitch Five: Sticking with fastballs, Kazmir sends in a 91 mph pitch on the inside edge of the plate. Pedroia fouls it off for strike two.
-- Pitch Six: Kazmir offers a fourth straight 91 mph fastball that crosses dead over the middle of the plate. Pedroia crushes it for a solo home run, the second of his career off Kazmir.
Verdict: Pedroia caught the Tampa ace in a pattern, and he made him pay in the most painful way. The homer started a big fifth inning for Boston, which pulled into a tie with three runs.
Fifth Inning: Kazmir pitching, no outs, bases empty.
-- Pitch One. Kazmir starts Pedroia off with an 89 mph fastball that misses high and inside off the plate. Pedroia watches it for ball one.
-- Pitch Two: Trying to catch Pedroia off guard, Kazmir offers a 78 mph changeup that cross the middle of the plate high. Pedroia drills it near the exact spot over left field where his homer hit in the third inning. It's his third career dinger off Kazmir.
Verdict: Another great at bat for Pedroia, who was loaded for bear his third time up against Kazmir. Unlike his previous at-bats, it only took two pitches to drill the offering he was looking for.
Eighth Inning: Chad Bradford pitching, no outs, bases empty.
-- Pitch One: Bradford starts with his patented submarine curveball, at 78 mph, which crosses the inside edge of the plate. Pedroia watches it for strike one.
-- Pitch Two: Bradford switches to a changeup at a glacial 65 mph that misses far off the outside edge of the plate. Pedroia watches it for ball one.
-- Pitch Three: Bradford tosses a 79 mph fastball that misses far inside and forces Pedroia to squirm out of its path. Ball three.
-- Pitch Four: Back to curveballs, Bradford delivers a 79 mph pitch that slips along the inside edge of the plate. Pedroia rips it into the gap between first and second for an inning-starting single.
Verdict: A nice piece of patient hitting by Pedroia, who waits out two horrible pitches for the curveball he saw at the start of the at-bat, then makes Bradford pay on his third hit of the night.
10th Inning: Dan Wheeler pitching, no outs, bases empty.
-- Pitch One: Wheeler gets the inning started with his fastball, his best pitch. His 87 mph offering misses outside just off the plate. Pedroia watches it for ball one.
-- Pitch Two: Wheeler throws another fastball, at 88 mph, that crosses along the top outside edge of the plate. Pedroia watches it for strike one.
-- Pitch Three: Wheeler sticks with heaters, his 89 mph pitch crosses the plate at the top edge of the strike zone. Pedroia swings under it for strike two.
-- Pitch Four: Another Wheeler fastball, at 89 mph, cuts along the outside edge of the plate. Pedroia makes contact and fouls off the pitch to stay alive.
-- Pitch Five: Wheeler tries out a curveball, at 79 mph, which misses far off the outside edge of the plate for ball two.
-- Pitch Six: Back to fastballs for Wheeler, whose 87 mph pitch gets the outer edge of the plate. Pedroia watches it for a called third strike and the first out of the inning.
Verdict: No hitter can be perfect, and Pedroia was caught off guard by location on the last pitch, and he paid the price for it. Unfortunately for Boston fans, so did the Red Sox at the end of the night, though Pedroia's performance bears none of the blame for that.
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