ST. LOUIS — The mood in the Boston Red Sox locker room after Saturday's Game 3 was as foul as you'd expect. They had just lost a World Series game on an obstruction call that plated the winning run, a winning run they thought they'd thrown out.
David Ortiz sat at his locker, back to the throng of media waiting for a juicy Big Papi quote. Maybe it'll come tomorrow.
"I'm not talking," is all they got from him, the first time more polite than the second.
Now, heading into Sunday's Game 4, down 2-1 in the series after two straight losses, each of them cemented in the late innings, the Red Sox have to find a way to put frustration aside and not dip into a 3-1 hole. They came back twice in Saturday's game, down 2-0 at one point, then down 4-2 at another. Now they'll have to come back from a stunning gut-punch of an ending.
"I don't think you go home angry," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was in the thick of that game-deciding play. "Obviously we're mad right now, but you gotta have that ability to walk out of the clubhouse and forget about it. You gotta go home, you got families to go to."
"We gotta forget about it and come back tomorrow."
Tomorrow. They might as well have been playing "Annie" in the clubhouse.
"You have tomorrow," said left fielder Daniel Nava, whose throw home would have nailed Allen Craig if not for the obstruction call. "You have to focus on tomorrow. At least we don't have a week until the next game. Go get 'em tomorrow, there's nothing else you can do."
That "tomorrow" ain't going to be easy. There's been concern all week about the health of Sunday's Game 4 starter Clay Buchholz. There would have been trepidation about him without a loss like this, but after Saturday night's deflater, the Red Sox have little margin for error moving forward.
Buchholz admits he's not at 100%. In his previous two postseason starts he hasn't made it into the sixth inning, but the Red Sox won both games. In Game 2 of the ALCS, Buchholz pitched 5 2/3 innings giving up eight hits and five runs. Then in Game 6, he pitched five innings giving up four hits and two runs. His shoulder is tight, Buchholz says, but he's going to do whatever he can to help his team win.
"The ball is not really coming out of my hands like it does in Spring Training or at the beginning of the season," Buchholz explained earlier on Saturday. "I think that's true for the majority of the guys that have been pitching all year, and something that I've had to deal with over the last three and a half months. I'm still in the same shoes from that standpoint."
If Buchholz isn't in top form, then the Red Sox will have to once again lean on their bullpen. Ryan Dempster, he of the 4.57 ERA, would be in position to be the Red Sox's long reliever. Or if it turned out Buchholz couldn't go, he may be called to start, since Felix Doubront pitched two innings Saturday.
As for the rest of the guys? The Red Sox used four relievers in Game 2 and five in Game 3. If there were a game where they could use a starter to go eight immaculate innings, it would be Sunday. But even manager John Farrell doesn't expect that from Buchholz.
"We go into tomorrow thinking that he's going to give us what he's been in the postseason," Farrell said before Game 3. "That might be a little bit shorter of an outing than maybe we've seen back in April and May. But he's also been very effective. And we're fully anticipating that to be the case tomorrow."
There it is again. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. The Red Sox better hope the sun comes out tomorrow.
"We got tomorrow," Nava said. "Thank God."
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