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Game 3: Gloves Off The Bench

The difference in tonight's super-tight Game 3 was clear: gloves off the bench. The Cards' new defenders did well. The Sox's gloves off the bench showed rust.

Kolten Wong deserves tremendous praise for coming off the bench cold and snaring Nava's one-hop bullet in the top of the 8th. Throw in his bottom-of-8th steal in for good measure, and the Cards realize they have a clutch 23-year-old bench player (or better) for years to come. How do the Cards always find so many reliable players? Sadly, the new gloves for Boston were not nearly as helpful. Big Papi, playing first due to his clutch bat, was serviceable. But he and newly-moved-to-short Xander Bogaerts were exposed on Carpenter's opening dribbler to start the bottom of the 7th. A poor throw from the hot hitting Bogaerts was made worse by Ortiz's poor fielding at first. But the really bad "glove off the bench" belonged to Will Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks, chilling in the dugout while Bogaerts proves he should be next year's shortstop, must have been gathering rust at an alarming rate. He must at least knock down the double from Holliday, which lead to two runs. Mock the sabermetric fanatics all you want for preferring Manny Machado to Cabrera, but Machado makes that play. Worse case, he knocks it down. But the cold Middlebrooks lets it pass.

Now fast forward to the bottom of the ninth. Pedroia makes a great play on Jay's hit up the middle and gets Molina at home. Salty admittedly makes a mediocre throw to third, pointlessly, to try and get Allen. And Middlebrooks "ole's" the ball into left. Middlebrooks MUST knock that ball down, but hardly tries. Cards win.

The gloves off the bench failed the Red Sox. And it might cost Middlebrooks his job next year. If the Sox make a run to keep Ellsbury, then they can't afford Drew at short. Fine, Bogaerts is ready anyway and makes the natural move. Or does he? If no one makes a run at Drew, maybe the Sox sign Drew cheap and let Xander play everyday at third.

Gloves off the bench. We'll see what it costs the Red Sox in games four and five.

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