- You don't leave your best pinch hitter on the bench.
- You don't let a relief pitcher get his first major league at bat in the ninth inning of a World Series game because you're hoping to extend him, and then pull him one out later.
- You don't make a lousy throw to third when there's basically no chance you'll get the runner.
- You don't leave your starting pitcher in to face the top of the opponent's lineup for the third time, not when he's visibly tiring and you've got an army of flamethrowers waiting to come out of the pen.
- You don't pitch Craig Breslow.
- You don't trust Will Middlebrooks' D, because it looks like he flinches every time a ball comes his way.
- You don't leave Jarrod Saltalamacchia out there in the late innings, not when you've got better defensive options.
- You don't pitch to Big Papi. He's hitting over .700. The rest of the Red Sox are hitting sub-BJ-Upton.
- You don't walk Stephen Drew. Ever.
Most of these are the little things, the things that happen in the heat of the moment or that seem kind of defensible at the time. But it's the little things that get you, especially when it's two teams so evenly matched. Something as simple as a rookie slipping cost the Cardinals game 4; something as simple as having David Ross in for defense would have prevented two bad throws to third, throws that cost the Red Sox games 2 and 3.
So the lesson is clear. Don't do these things. Don't give the opponent any advantage they didn't earn for themselves, not in a Series so evenly matched.
To date, the Sox have not done a few more of these than the Cardinals. That's why they're up 3 games to 2. But they've made their share of mistakes, too, given away their share of gifts. If they do it again tonight, we're going seven. If it's the Cards who are feeling generous, then it's the first clinching celebration at Fenway since the Babe was a left handed pitcher.
But it all depends, not on what they do, but what they don't do.