Sunday, October 27, 2013
W2W4: World Series Game 4
By Kyle Brasseur, Special to ESPNBoston.com
When and where: Busch Stadium, Sunday at 8:15 p.m. ET
• Starting pitchers: Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74 ERA)
• Scouting report on Lynn: Playoff appearances are clearly becoming the norm for Lynn. Picked in the first round of the 2008 MLB draft, Lynn’s made a postseason appearance in each of his first five full seasons of professional baseball. And with three years of major league experience despite being only 26, Lynn still takes nothing for granted.
“If you can say a run up to a World Series feels normal, that's a good thing to have, I guess,” Lynn said Saturday in his news conference at Busch Stadium. “It's never going to feel normal; it's a World Series. You're getting a chance to start in the World Series, against the best team from the American League. You're excited.”
In Lynn’s first World Series appearance as a rookie in 2011 he made five relief appearances, allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings pitched. Despite being moved to the rotation full-time since then, Lynn won Game 1 of the NLCS with two scoreless innings of relief in addition to going 1-1 with seven runs allowed in 9 2/3 innings split between his two starts.
“Lance, a lot like [Game 3 starter Joe Kelly], is an intense competitor and a guy who loves being on that big stage,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Saturday. “We saw that Lance was fighting his way through September and we got into a heated spot, all of a sudden he turned it up another level and got some big starts for us. So we're anxious to watch him come out and do what he's been doing.”
Lynn went 2-1 with a 2.12 ERA in five September starts this year, including striking out nine Chicago Cubs in six shutout innings of the Sept. 27 NL Central division clincher for St. Louis. He has never faced Boston in his career.
• Scouting report on Buchholz: Although Buchholz kept up with AL Cy Young favorite Max Scherzer in Boston’s ALCS Game 6 win over the Detroit Tigers, a lot of concern was drawn from his start. After five innings, allowing two runs on four hits, Buchholz was removed from the game as his fastball struggled to reach 90 mph. Buchholz was later described as battling fatigue and was pushed back to fourth in Boston’s World Series rotation.
“My one thing that I have [to do] is to go and compete. Go out there for as long as [manager John Farrell] wants to leave me out there, and give the team a chance to win to the best of my ability,” Buchholz said Saturday. “Obviously given the couple of days that I've been out so far, [I’m] not 100 percent. But I've said it a couple of times this year, I don't think anybody, especially at this time of the season, is 100 percent.”
“It's going to be my first World Series experience being on the field, and I think that just the environment, the crowd, the adrenaline, that's going to help me out, too.”
Buchholz remains winless in his four career postseason starts (three this year), posting a 4.98 ERA and failing to make it past the sixth inning in each. The right-hander has allowed 10 runs in 16 2/3 innings pitched this postseason, one fewer run than he allowed in his first 58 2/3 innings pitched this season, a span of eight starts.
“We go into tomorrow thinking that he's going to give us what he's been in the postseason,” Farrell said Saturday.
“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.”
Buchholz has never faced St. Louis in his career. Farrell mentioned on Saturday that he has given thought to a pitch count or game time range for the 29-year-old.
Three Cardinals players to watch
• Matt Holliday, LF: Holliday has been St. Louis’ most dangerous hitter in the World Series, collecting five hits in 13 at-bats and driving in four of the Cardinals' 10 runs. He has multiple hits in four of his past six postseason games.
• Matt Carpenter, 2B: Carpenter was finally able to get things going for the Cardinals in Game 3, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored after failing to score once and going 1-for-8 between Game 1 and 2. Carpenter led the league with 126 runs scored during the regular season and had scored five runs in his previous 11 postseason games, four of which came in four separate wins for St. Louis.
• Allen Craig, 1B/OF: Despite scoring the game-winning run on an obstruction call at third base Saturday night, Craig was helped off the field by trainers, appearing to have re-injured himself on the play. The 29-year-old suffered a foot injury this season that caused him to miss the NLDS and NLCS in addition to the final 23 games of Sept. Craig is hopeful he’ll be able to play in Game 4. He showed how dangerous a weapon he can be off the bench in Game 3, lining a first-pitch double off Red Sox closer Koji Uehara to set up the Cardinals' game-winning rally.
Three Red Sox players to watch
• Shane Victorino, RF: His ALCS Game 6 grand slam aside, Victorino has been mired in a significant postseason slump, going 0-for-10 in the World Series and 2-for-23 in the ALCS before hitting his slam. Despite only one walk and nine hits in 13 postseason games overall, Victorino is managing a respectable .304 on-base percentage as a result of seven hit by pitches. The 32-year-old has one hit in his two plate appearances against Lynn.
• David Ortiz, DH: Ortiz continues to hit at a blistering pace during the first three games of the series, collecting five hits in eight at-bats and driving in five runs. In the first 10 games of the postseason, Ortiz went 7-for-35 with only 7 RBIs.
• Jacoby Ellsbury, CF: So far the Cardinals have been able to contain Ellsbury in the leadoff spot as the speedy center fielder has only three hits (all singles) in 12 at-bats and has yet to attempt a stolen base. The Red Sox are 4-1 in the five postseason games in which Ellsbury has stolen a base.
• Three key considerations:
• In a back-and-forth Game 3, the Red Sox and Cardinals burned through five relievers each with Brandon Workman (30 pitches) and Junichi Tazawa (24) reaching new postseason high pitch totals and Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal also reaching 20, as well. Like Buchholz, Lynn has also failed to pitch past the sixth inning in his four career postseason starts.
• Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (0-for-6, 4 K's in World Series; 6-for-32, 19 K's in postseason overall) and shortstop Stephen Drew (1-for-9, 5 K's; 4-for-44, 17 K's) continue to struggle in the postseason, possibly opening the way for backup catcher David Ross or third baseman Will Middlebrooks (with Xander Bogaerts shifting to short) to claim a starting spot in the last four games of the series.
• The last time Boston lost back-to-back World Series games was Game 3 and 4 of the 1986 series against the New York Mets. Boston went on to lose the series in seven games.