Friday, October 25, 2013
Game 3: Ortiz likely at 1B; Nava in LF?
By Tony Lee, Special to ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- Although nothing is set in stone, Red Sox manager John Farrell has provided hints as to what his lineup will look like when the World Series resumes in St. Louis on Saturday. Following a 4-2 Game 2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night, he indicated that Daniel Nava might get his first start in left field and added that it is "likely" that designated hitter David Ortiz will play first base, relegating Mike Napoli to the bench.
Neither move is a surprise. The manner in which Ortiz continues to swing the bat makes the latter a foregone conclusion for an offense that has produced just one run without any input from Ortiz over the past 15 innings of the series.
After another homer in Game 2, David Ortiz is a good bet to start at first base in Game 3 in St. Louis.
The Sox slugger homered Thursday for the second time in as many games in the Series, lofting a go-ahead two-run shot into the Monster seats in the sixth inning. With at least three games remaining in this version of the Fall Classic, Ortiz has already tied the mark he shares with Todd Walker for most home runs by a Red Sox player in a postseason with five (and he was robbed of another in Game 1). He is now tied with Jim Thome for seventh on the all-time postseason home run list with 17. And Ortiz is the first Red Sox player to homer in consecutive World Series games since Bernie Carbo in 1975.
On Thursday, his ability to lift a changeup from changeup specialist Michael Wacha over the wall accounted for all of Boston's offense.
"We're going to lose one of the middle-of-the-order bats, and that's understood going in," Farrell said. "But still, David's in a pretty good place right now offensively."
Ortiz has started all 69 of Boston's playoff games since he joined the team in 2003, including four at first base during World Series sweeps in 2004 and 2007. Despite that, and the fact that he is locked in at the plate, Ortiz is prepared for any scenario.
"It is what it is. We're going to have to deal with it and whoever's not playing that day is going to be prepared to come in late in the game and try to make something happen," he said. "Both teams have to use their pitcher to hit, we both still [have] good lineups out there. Whoever's not playing will be ready."
Both Ortiz and Napoli have some ugly numbers as pinch hitters, particularly Napoli. That won't cause Farrell to hesitate to use them in key situations, and Ortiz has already gotten the better of two of the Cardinals' stable of hard-throwing youngsters, first on a first-pitch fastball by lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist in Game 1 and then Wacha, who tipped his hand in their prior encounter.
"When I bat before, he got me 3-0 and he threw me a changeup back-to-back, so I have the idea he isn't trying to give in," Ortiz said. "Go from there."
The home run off Wacha was the first hit the young right-hander has allowed this postseason on a changeup, which flummoxed other Boston hitters who had never seen his stuff. There will be more unfamiliarity when Joe Kelly, who has faced only two current Red Sox hitters (Stephen Drew and Shane Victorino), toes the rubber for the Cardinals in Game 3.
And Farrell has already suggested that the one guy who can look comfortable in an instant will be anchoring the offense.