BOSTON -- Eric Wedge had seen the numbers. He just hadn't come up with a way to describe them. Wedge knows all too well that the Red Sox came into Saturday's Game 2 of the American League Championship Series with Nos. 3 and 4 hitters David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez having reached base in 29 of their 36 total plate appearances this postseason. That's an on-base percentage of .805. "I don't even know if there's a word for that," Wedge said.
But what's more important to Wedge than finding a word for it is finding a defense for it. Whatever C.C. Sabathia and the Indians' relievers were trying to do against Big Papi and Manny in Friday night's 10-3 loss obviously didn't work. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ortiz and Ramirez became the first pair of teammates to reach base in every plate appearance with at least five appearances apiece in a postseason game. Sabathia's problem was his uncharacteristic nibbling -- particularly when facing Ramirez, against whom he had an 0-2 count in the third inning, only to throw four straight balls for a bases-loaded walk. The bullpen wasn't any better. Aaron Fultz was brought out to face fellow left-hander Ortiz in the sixth, and he walked him on a full count. He walked Ramirez, as well. With five walks and a hit by pitch issued to Ortiz and Ramirez on the night, it was obvious the Indians' pitchers were doing everything in their power to avoid serving something down the middle. But the careful approach doesn't seem to do a team any favors, given what lurks behind them in the lineup. "You've got a guy behind them that only knocked in 120 [runs]," Wedge said, referring to Mike Lowell. "So it's not just about those two guys. But obviously, they're the backbone of what they do here offensively." Wedge believes his pitchers have to show a little more backbone when they face Ortiz and Ramirez in the remainder of this series. "You can't shy away from them," Wedge said. "We've still got to pitch to our strengths and pitch our game and go get them. If they're not chasing, they're not chasing. They're in that zone right now. There's nothing that we can do, in regard to controlling that. There are points in time I think you've got to maybe be a little bit more careful, but [Friday] night, I think we were maybe too much so." The Indians' mind-set in Game 1 was to attack the zone against Ortiz and Ramirez. Executing that game plan was another matter altogether. "We've got to make sure what we're trying to do won't work before we abandon it," pitching coach Carl Willis said. Breaking balls baffling: Opposing pitchers are throwing Franklin Gutierrez a curve. Dozens of them, in fact. Gutierrez has batted just .143 (2-for-14) in five postseason games, in large part because of the heavy dose of breaking balls he's been fed. In the fifth inning on Friday night, Red Sox starter Josh Beckett and Gutierrez battled through an eight-pitch at-bat in which only one fastball was thrown. Gutierrez fouled it off. On a 3-2 pitch, when it seemed Beckett might have to go back to the fastball, he instead reared back and threw another curve. Gutierrez watched it go by for strike three.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.