With the two best teams in baseball facing off in the Fall Classic, it’s no surprise there will be a lot of “strength vs. strength” matchups within the series. One of the strengths for the Red Sox is their ability to steal bases and make things happen on the base paths, but the Cardinals have arguably the top catcher in the game in Yadier Molina.
“I mean, he’s one of the best in the business,” Red Sox backstop David Ross said.
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Over the course of the season, Molina threw out 43 percent of potential base stealers. In comparison, the Tigers’ Alex Avila threw out 17 percent and the Rays’ Jose Lobaton 14 percent. The Red Sox lead all playoff teams with 11 stolen bases this postseason, while no other team has more than three. It’s good to have an outstanding catcher in Molina, but it doesn’t just rely solely on him.
“You have the best catcher in the game, in my opinion, and it makes it easier, but when it is all said and done as a pitcher you have to be quick to the plate, change up your looks and things like that,” Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn said. “You can’t just not pay attention to them and expect Yadier to throw them all out.”
The Red Sox are certainly aware of Molina and the threat he poses, but that certainly won’t change their overall approach.
“We’ll really have to do our homework and study and pick some good times to run,” Ross said. “We’re not going to run into outs just because we feel like we have to run.”
In getting to the World Series, the Red Sox have done a good job of working pitch counts and getting into the opposition's bullpen. Of the 45 runs they’ve scored this season, 30 percent (15) have come off of relievers. Doing this against St. Louis might prove more difficult as the Cardinals have one of the best bullpens in the league, posting a 1.18 ERA this postseason. Their starters aren't slouches either, posting a 2.57 ERA in their 11 playoff games.
“I don’t think our approach will change. We have to stick with what we’ve had the whole year,” Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava said. “We know their bullpen is strong. We know their starting pitching is strong. We know they are a very good team. “
When you get to a stage like the World Series, almost all the stats can be thrown out as it all comes down to execution on the biggest of stages.
“Who knows what is going to happen? But hey, if they make a mistake hopefully we can take advantage of it,” Nava said.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84