Boston Red Sox: World Series

Tonight's Red Sox lineup

October, 30, 2013
Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell on Wednesday afternoon revealed to Boston sports radio station WEEI his lineup for Game 6 of the World Series, penciling right fielder Shane Victorino into the No. 6 spot instead of his usual No. 2 spot.

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Mike Napoli, 1B
5. Jonny Gomes, LF
6. Shane Victorino, RF
7. Xander Bogaerts, 3B
8. Stephen Drew, SS
9. David Ross, C

Snapshots: Early bird at Fenway

October, 30, 2013
One thing we love about @ESPNJoeyMac is he's usually the first guy on the scene at Fenway. More than 6 hours before first pitch, here are a few of the scenes he captured on the field:

Mayor urges fans to party responsibly

October, 30, 2013
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is urging fans to celebrate responsibly if the Boston Red Sox win the World Series either Wednesday night or Thursday night at Fenway Park.

“This is such an exciting week to be in Boston,” Menino said. “As the Red Sox work to close out an amazing season, Bostonians have been tremendous in showcasing our city on the national stage. This week I just ask that we stay the course: Be responsible. Use public transportation. Use common sense.”

The Boston Police Department will have extra officers out and about in case fans cross the line from celebrating to vandalizing or violence.

[+] EnlargeThomas Menino and Barack Obama
AP Photo/Charles DharapakMayor Menino greeted President Obama at Logan Airport on Wednesday with a Red Sox hat.
Coincidentally, President Barack Obama will be in Boston on Wednesday, as well. He’ll give a speech at Faneuil Hall this afternoon.

Between the two events, and the mayor closing down some streets near Fenway, people are urged to take public transportation to Game 6 tonight.

Below are further instructions and street closing information from Boston City Hall:

(Read full post)

Putting Ortiz's World Series in perspective

October, 29, 2013

David Ortiz has been nearly impossible to get out this World Series.
If David Ortiz gets into the Hall of Fame, people will point to the 2013 World Series as the stretch that put him over the top.

Before this postseason, Ortiz had already established himself as a clutch playoff performer en route to Red Sox championships in 2004 (two walk-off hits) and 2007, but this October might just be his best one yet. We’ll acknowledge that his ALCS performance was subpar overall (just two hits in six games), but one of those hits was a Game 2 grand slam that rallied the Sox past the Tigers and served as the turning point in the series.

In the World Series, he’s been untouchable, as locked in as perhaps any player in postseason history.

Consider the following:

• He is 11-of-15 (.733 batting average) against the Cardinals with six runs batted in, four extra-base hits, four walks and no strikeouts. He has an OPS of 2.017 (let that one sink in). Those 11 hits are two shy of the record for most in a World Series, which is shared by Bobby Richardson (1964 Yankees), Lou Brock (1968 Cardinals) and former Red Sox second baseman Marty Barrett (1986 Red Sox). The only player other than Ortiz in major league history to reach base (by hit, walk or HBP) at least 15 times over the first five games of a World Series is Barry Bonds in 2002.

• As a team, the Red Sox are hitting .205 in the World Series. If you take away Ortiz, that number drops to .151.

• Ortiz became the third player to reach base safely in nine straight plate appearances in the World Series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, joining Joe Gordon (1939/1941 Yankees) and Billy Hatcher (1990 Reds). Ortiz and Hatcher are the only two to do so in a single World Series.

“I've got my mindset. I've been playing this game for too long, and when I go to the plate, I try to look for a strike and try not to get out of it,” Ortiz said after Monday night’s Game 5 victory. “And that's pretty much what I've been doing all year.”

• He became the first Red Sox player ever with consecutive three-hit games in the World Series. According to Elias, Ortiz (37) is the oldest player in MLB history with back-to-back three-hit games in the World Series.

• With his first-inning RBI in Game 5, Ortiz now has 14 career RBIs in the World Series. That ties the team record, held by Dwight Evans.

• Among players with at least 40 World Series at-bats, Ortiz has the highest OPS in major league history.

• Unlike other Cardinals pitchers, Game 5 starter Adam Wainwright challenged Ortiz instead of working around him. Wainwright changed his windup to try to disturb Ortiz’s timing. The slugger still went 3-for-4.

"I wasn't paying any attention to that,” Ortiz said. “To be honest with you, he threw me some tough pitches tonight. He was throwing me cutters in. And I know that pretty much after he gets ahead with two strikes, he wants to strike me out with a breaking ball. So you make up your mind. It's a battle when you face that kind of pitcher, as good as he is, and as good as the rest of the pitchers that they have -- they have a great pitching staff. And if you try to look for everything they throw, you definitely are not going to hit anything."

Ortiz has been at his best in the seasons in which the Red Sox reached the World Series (perhaps not coincidentally). In 2004, he reached base in 13 of 14 games and had back-to-back walk-off hits in the ALCS against the Yankees. He had 19 RBIs during that playoff run with a .400 average, .515 OBP and 1.278 OPS. In 2007, he put up a similar line: He reached base in 13 of 14 games, had a .370 average, .508 OBP and 1.204 OPS.

Even factoring in his below-standard ALCS performance this October, he has reached base in 13 of 15 games and has a .360 average, .476 OBP and 1.196 OPS.

“I was born for this,” Ortiz said after Boston’s Game 5 victory.

Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 4, Cardinals 2

October, 28, 2013

ST. LOUIS -- Jonny Gomes, sleepless in St. Louis and hitless in the World Series, was not supposed to play Sunday night in Game 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Red Sox manager John Farrell had gone back to playing the percentages, opting for the switch-hitter and better defender, Daniel Nava, to make his second straight start in Busch Stadium.

But well after Farrell had posted his starting lineup, the Red Sox learned that right fielder Shane Victorino was a no-go, a victim of the lower back strain that has flared on him at various times this season, none more inopportune than before a Series game.

Nava was shifted to right field, and Gomes was back in left field -- and soon, in the limelight, his two-out, three-run home run in the sixth inning lifting the Red Sox to a 4-2 win in another night of thriller theater, the Sox squaring the Series at two games apiece after losing the night before on an umpire’s obstruction call.

This time it was the Cardinals whose hopes came to a shocking end, Red Sox closer Koji Uehara picking off pinch runner Kolten Wong at first base for the game’s final out, which led to the spectacle of the 38-year-old Japanese reliever and the bearded mountain-man first baseman, Mike Napoli, coming together in a hilarious midair pirouette to celebrate.

Gomes, who had drawn a fifth-inning walk after David Ortiz’s leadoff double, a rally that led to Boston’s first run on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Stephen Drew (4-for-45 before the at-bat), connected off Cardinals rookie reliever Seth Maness, driving a ball into the Sox bullpen with Dustin Pedroia aboard on a single and Ortiz on a walk.

Climb on my back, boys: Ortiz continues to have a scintillating series at the plate, even as he spends his downtime between at-bats playing first base, not his usual routine in the American League. Ortiz reached base all four times he came to the plate, with a double, two singles and a walk. Ortiz has eight hits in 11 Series at-bats, a .727 batting average which at the moment ranks as the second highest in Series history, behind only Cincinnati’s Billy Hatcher (.750 in the Reds’ four-game sweep in 1990). Ortiz also has drawn four walks in the Series.

Buch stops here: Clay Buchholz was the biggest will-he-or-won’t-he storyline of the Series, loads of folks reluctant to take manager John Farrell at his word that Buchholz would start Game 4, bad shoulder and all. There even was an undercurrent of snark suggesting that Buchholz didn’t want to pitch. But Buchholz, despite stuff far from what he had back when he was running off nine wins in a row to open the season, gutted his way through the first four innings. He allowed three hits and an unearned run, and left trailing 1-0 after four, having thrown 66 pitches.

Felix one cool cat: Sox left-hander Felix Doubront, left out of the postseason rotation, had never pitched in back-to-back games out of the bullpen in his big league career, and only three times in the minors, the last in 2011. But after giving the Sox two scoreless innings in Game 3, Doubront replaced Buchholz in the fifth and set down the first eight batters he faced, striking out three, before being lifted after pinch hitter Shane Robinson’s two-out double in the seventh.

Ellsbury errs again: Nearly every defensive metric had Jacoby Ellsbury as the best defensive outfielder in the American League, a shoo-in for a Gold Glove. But Sunday night, Ellsbury committed his second error in two nights, bobbling Matt Carpenter’s third-inning single, allowing Carpenter to advance an extra base. That proved costly, as Carlos Beltran followed with a base hit to score Carpenter.

Quicksilver Quintin: Quintin Berry gave the Red Sox their first stolen base of the Series when he stole second after entering to run for David Ortiz in the eighth. It was Berry’s third stolen base of the postseason. He has been successful in all 29 of his stolen-base attempts in his big league career, including two in the postseason last year for Detroit.

All hands on deck: John Lackey, who is on track to pitch Game 6 in Boston, came out of the bullpen to pitch a scoreless eighth inning. The inning was not without peril: A two-base throwing error by third baseman Xander Bogaerts and a wild pitch put Yadier Molina on third with one out. But Jon Jay popped to short and David Freese grounded to short, ending the threat.

Lineup: Ross for Salty; Ortiz stays in

October, 27, 2013
Here's the full Red Sox lineup for Game 4:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, 1B
5. Daniel Nava, LF
6. Xander Bogaerts, 3B
7. Stephen Drew, SS
8. David Ross, C
9. Clay Buchholz, SP

Nava's journey from 'Outlaw' to WS starter

October, 25, 2013
ST. LOUIS -- Seven years ago, Daniel Nava was cut by the Chico Outlaws of the independent Golden Baseball League. He didn't play that season.

The Outlaws kept Nava the next season, when he was the 2007 GBL MVP, and then sold him to the Red Sox for $1 while the Sox were playing the Indians in the ALCS. The Outlaws eventually went out of business after the 2011 season.

Nava, meanwhile, will be the starting left fielder in Game 3 of the 109th World Series Saturday night. Some stories only get better. This is one of them.

Not that Nava hasn't already had his share of memory-makers that would make any player's personal highlight reel, beginning with a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues, on national TV in Fenway Park on June 12, 2010.

[+] EnlargeDaniel Nava
Ron Vesely/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesDaniel Nava, right, scored on a sacrifice fly in Game 1 after doubling as a pinch hitter.
But just this season, he has tacked on a few others:

• making an Opening Day roster, at age 30, for the first time in his career

• winning the home opener with a three-run home run

• hitting another game-deciding, three-run home run 12 days later in the first game the Sox played after the Boston Marathon bombings

• four four-hit games

• reaching base in 41 consecutive starts

And now this, manager John Farrell returning Nava to left field in place of Jonny Gomes, the combination of Nava's left-handed bat against Game 3 St. Louis CardinalsSt. Louis Cardinals starter Joe Kelly and the bigger left field in Busch Stadium swaying Farrell's decision. The Sox had been 7-0 in the postseason in games started by Gomes until losing Game 2 4-2 on Thursday night in Fenway Park. Gomes also is one for his past 15 and batting .156 (5-for-32) overall in the postseason, though he was in the middle of several key rallies in earlier rounds.

Nava last started in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, going 1-for-3 with a single. He has had just two at-bats since, both coming in the World Series as a pinch hitter. He doubled off Cardinals reliever Carlos Martinez in the eighth inning of Game 1 and came around to score, then struck out on a 99 mile per hour fastball from Trevor Rosenthal to end Game 2.

Ten days will have passed between starts. What does he do to stay sharp?

"Video games," he deadpanned before adding, "I don't own any video games.

"I've tried to stay in the game mentally with a couple of at-bats and take myself through an at-bat as if I was doing it. Keep the routine the same. You have to be ready at any time."

Is 'every little thing ... gonna be all right'?

October, 25, 2013

To borrow a Bob Marley line from the Fenway Park crowd that serenades Shane Victorino before every at bat, is "every little thing gonna be all right" for the Red Sox in the World Series?


What are you most worried about as a Sox fan?


Discuss (Total votes: 16,468)

In their Game 2 loss, the Sox managed just four hits off the Cardinals' young arms. Michael Wacha proved to be the dominant right-hander we saw in the National League playoffs, and relievers Carlos Martinez (3 strikeouts in 2 innings) and Trevor Rosenthal (struck out the side in the ninth on 11 pitches) made the Sox long for the days of facing Joaquin Benoit and Phil Coke with the game on the line.

We also still don't know if Boston starter Clay Buchholz is going to be effective (or even available) in Game 4 on Sunday. He told earlier this week that his shoulder feels "a little dead." That's not what you're looking to hear from a guy about to make the biggest start of his life.

We don't know which Jake Peavy will show up for Game 3. Will it be the one who held the Rays to five hits and one run in 5 2/3 innings in the ALDS? Or will it be the guy that got shelled (7 earned runs in 3 innings) in the ALCS against the Tigers?

And then there's the fact that the Red Sox are on the road for the next three games in St. Louis. You have to assume the red-hot David Ortiz will play first base, but that means Mike Napoli's bat won't be in the lineup unless it's for pinch-hitting duties.

Oh, and the Cardinals have won 11 of their past 12 games at Busch Stadium.

Looking for some good news? The next two Cardinals starters -- Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn -- have surrendered a combined 15 runs in 28 innings in five postseason starts (only one of which was a quality start).

The teams work out later today in St. Louis.'s Gordon Edes will report from there with updates.

Wacha baffling hitters with his changeup

October, 24, 2013
In eight starts since re-joining the rotation at the beginning of September, Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha is 5-1 with a 1.20 ERA. He’s been even better in the postseason, going 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA between the NLDS and NLCS.

One of the primary reasons for his ascension has been the effectiveness of his changeup, long considered his best offspeed pitch. Through Sept. 19, opponents were hitting .213 against it. Ever since, they’ve hit a paltry .094. He is also throwing the pitch more often. He’s thrown it in 24.8 percent of his pitches over his past four starts.

Lineup: Ross catching Lester again

October, 23, 2013
BOSTON -- As expected, Jonny Gomes gets the start in left field, Xander Bogaerts at third base and David Ross behind the plate for Game 1 of the World Series.

Ross caught Jon Lester in Game 1 of the ALDS as well.

Here's the Sox lineup:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Shane Victorino, RF
3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Mike Napoli, 1B
6. Jonny Gomes, LF
7. Xander Bogaerts, 3B
8. Stephen Drew, SS
9. David Ross, C
SP -- Jon Lester, LHP

Cards' Beltran is playoff RBI machine

October, 23, 2013
St, Louis Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran is hitting .440 (11-for-25) with runners in scoring position in his career in the playoffs, the highest batting average for any player with at least 25 at bats in that situation in MLB postseason history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

He’s also moving up several other lists:

Most Postseason RBI -- NL History
Albert Pujols 52
Chipper Jones 47
Jim Edmonds 42
Carlos Beltran 37
Lance Berkman 37

Most Postseason HR -- MLB History
Manny Ramirez 29
Bernie Williams 22
Derek Jeter 20
Reggie Jackson 18
Mickey Mantle 18
Albert Pujols 18
Jim Thome 17
Carlos Beltran 16

Fewest AB per HR -- Postseason History
Babe Ruth 8.60
Nelson Cruz 9.00
Carlos Beltran 10.19
Lenny Dykstra 11.20
Lou Gehrig 11.90
Duke Snider 12.09

Koji's dominance in perspective

October, 23, 2013
It’s no news flash to say ALCS MVP Koji Uehara has been brilliant since taking over as the Red Sox closer after injuries to Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey. Here are a few numbers that put it in perspective:

• Uehara has a 1.08 ERA and 0.56 WHIP overall this season (including postseason), but since he became the closer on June 26, he’s posted a 0.51 ERA (3 ER, 53 1/3 IP) and 0.39 WHIP (19 H, 2 BB) in 49 appearances. That’s the lowest WHIP in the majors in nearly 100 years. Only Dennis Eckersley even comes close with his 0.61 ERA in 1990.

• Uehara peppers the zone, throwing strikes at a very high rate: 74.4 percent of his pitches this season (including postseason) have gone for strikes, the highest rate in baseball (min. 60 IP).

• Remarkably, Uehara has gotten opponents to miss on 33 percent of swings against pitches in the strike zone. That’s the best mark in baseball (min. 60 IP) and more than double the league average of 15.7 percent. And he’s done it with a fastball that averages less than 90 miles per hour.

• It’s all about the splitter for Uehara. Opponents have batted .096 in at-bats ending his splitter this season, missing on 45 percent of swings.

Rosenthal, Martinez anchor Cards pen

October, 23, 2013

Of the 100 innings thrown by Cardinals this postseason, 69 of them have been by players age 26 or younger, including 22 of the 30 innings thrown by relievers. Of those 30 innings, St. Louis has allowed just six runs for a 1.80 ERA. Opponents are batting .177 against the Cardinals pen.

The postseason seen Mike Matheny putting a lot of faith into pitchers who hadn’t been in the roles they’re currently in all season:

Trevor Rosenthal was the primary set-up man all season long and was one of the most effective relievers in baseball. He only became the closer when Edward Mujica faltered in late summer. In the regular season, Rosenthal had 108 strikeouts, third-most among all relief pitchers behind Aroldis Chapman (112) and Kenley Jansen (111). He leads the Cardinals with 7 innings pitched out of the pen in the postseason.

Carlos Martinez has been thrust into the setup role after he bounced between the majors and minors throughout the year while the Cardinals tried to figure out if he would be best used as a starter or reliever. After Joe Kelly emerged in the rotation, the Cardinals decided Martinez would be a reliever. Opponents have batted .105 against him this postseason in 6 2/3 innings pitched. He’s averaged 94.9 miles per hour with his fastball and touched as high as 101 mph. Like Rosenthal, Martinez has pitched 6 2/3 innings out of the pen this postseason (he’s given up two runs). No other pitcher has thrown more than 4 innings for the Cardinals out of the bullpen.

Wainwright: Bounce-back 'very special'

October, 22, 2013
BOSTON -- “The Cardinal Way” is an 86-page handbook handed out to young players upon their entry into the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a way to go about their new professional lives.

Adam Wainwright
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesHaving missed out on the Cardinals' championship run in 2011, Adam Wainwright is set to make his first World Series start in Wednesday's Game 1.
Within its pages are the expectations each Cardinals player is expected to meet while part of the franchise. However, within the Cardinals clubhouse, there is no need for a handbook to show players how to act.

St. Louis has Adam Wainwright for that.

“I’ll tell you, there couldn’t be a better ace for a club,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of his World Series Game 1 starter. “[These young guys] should be grateful that they have the example of Adam Wainwright to lead this club.”

In a pitching staff comprised of three regular starters under the age of 26, the 32-year-old Wainwright serves as a mentor to the younger guys. Pitchers speak of how the first time they met the two-time All-Star, he approached them first, introducing himself with a handshake.

“I want these young guys to know they can come to me at any time with anything,” Wainwright said.

Despite poor results last season, Wainwright earned the utmost respect from his peers by pitching his way back from Tommy John surgery that ended his 2011 season in spring training. The right-hander posted a career-worst 3.94 ERA during the 2011 regular season before going 1-0 in three postseason starts. His last start came in Game 4 of the NLCS, the last game St. Louis won before being eliminated by losing three straight to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.

In that game, Wainwright threw seven innings of one-run ball. And even if the Cardinals could have won one more game afterward to push them to consecutive World Series appearances, Wainwright might not have been able to take the mound again.

“If I’m being honest, after Game 4 of the NLCS I may have had one more start in me,” Wainwright said. “I was pretty well spent, I gave every single thing I had.”

“The fastball wasn’t fast, the changeup wasn’t changing, the slider wasn’t sliding. The only thing I had was my curveball.”

A year later, and Wainwright is lined up to make his first career World Series start Wednesday night against the Boston Red Sox. The veteran has everything back to vintage form: The fastball has been fast, the changeup is changing, the slider is sliding, the curveball continues to be a weapon and Wainwright has gone 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA in three postseason starts. He was 19-9 in the regular season with a 2.94 ERA.

“To be able to pitch like I did this year and return to form, my stuff came back and my ability that I knew was there returned,” Wainwright said. “To be able to have some big-time playoff moments this year, it’s been very special. Something I’ll never forget.”

When the Cardinals last won it all in 2011, Wainwright was only an injured spectator, doubting that he would ever be able to be the pitcher he was before his injury. On Wednesday night, Wainwright will take the mound for St. Louis, arguably a better pitcher than the one he was before his injury.

And, win or lose, another chapter will be written in “The Cardinal Way.”

Wacha, Middlebrooks Texas HS rivals

October, 22, 2013
BOSTON -- Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks will be the first one to tell you that he’s not one to lay down a bunt.

In 660 major league plate appearances, the 25-year-old has laid down one sacrifice bunt, a grounder to the pitcher that resulted in moving the game-winning run to third against the Minnesota Twins in the 10th inning of a May 17 game this year.

However, with the World Series about to begin Wednesday night, there’s a more controversial bunt being discussed at Fenway Park, one that took place years ago in the city of Texarkana, Texas.

Or did it take place?

“I don’t remember bunting. He might just be messing with you guys,” Middlebrooks said.

The he in this scenario is St. Louis Cardinals Game 2 starter Michael Wacha, NLCS MVP and, perhaps more importantly, high school rival of fellow Texan Will Middlebrooks.

“I think he tried bunting off me,” Wacha said of Middlebrooks. “I don’t know why ... probably because he knew he couldn’t get a hit off me.”

Of the three high school located on the Texas side of Texarkana, Middlebrooks attended Liberty-Eylau High School and was two grades above the 22-year-old Wacha, who attended Pleasant Grove High School (the third school, Texas High, was attended by New England Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, also 25). Both were baseball standouts, Middlebrooks as a shortstop and Wacha as a pitcher.

“I knew he was good,” Middlebrooks said of Wacha. “He has always been a good pitcher, he was always the guy who utilized all three pitches. It seemed like he never threw balls in the middle of the plate.”

“He was always the best player out there, an unbelievable player,” Wacha said of Middlebrooks. “He was one of those guys everyone really looked up to.”

Now, the two are once again facing off against each other in the World Series, bringing a buzz to the Texas city with a population of around 37,000.

“They’re pretty happy that at least a ring will be coming back there,” Wacha said.

Whether Middlebrooks or Wacha will be the one to bring the ring back will be decided shortly as the winner of the World Series will be decided in the coming days. For now though, the debate in Boston rages over whether or not Middlebrooks did indeed lay a bunt down against Wacha while the two played together growing up.

“I really don’t remember that but I’ll ask him [Tuesday night],” Middlebrooks said. “I don’t know if it’s because I couldn’t hit him. I’m not ever going to say that.”