Monday, March 10, 2014
ST. LOUIS — How do you like the World Series so far? Things sure get weird here in Missouri.
From Game 3 to Game 4.
“A walk-off obstruction and a walk-off pick-off,” Red Sox catcher David Ross said Sunday night.
“Tonight, their dugout was going, ‘what just happened?’ (Saturday) night, our dugout was going, ‘what just happened?’ “
Of course, we’ll start with the links.
The game story.
A look back at The Call on Saturday.
And today’s notebook, with peak at Monday’s starters, one of whom wants to follow in the footsteps of aces before him; the other just hoping to pitch better.
As for what happened Sunday night, let’s start with the starter. When CLAY BUCHHOLZ’s first fastball was measured at 88 mph, there was worry.
Buchholz gave Boston four solid innings (three hits, one unearned run) without much velocity.
“But he pitched with guts and sometimes that’s enough,” Ross said. “Clay pitched his tail off. He didn’t have his command he normally has, but he had a real good sinker. And his change-up. He navigated through there.”
Then there was FELIX DOUBRONT who followed Buchholz with 2 2/3 innings of superb relief.
What a turnaround. Doubront has always expressed his discomfort in the bullpen role. Yet he pitched two innings Saturday and came back for more Sunday.
“I think with all the excitement and the Adrenaline, that I want to pitch,” Doubront said. “I want to be in the game. I want to be part of the team to win the game. When I got the opportunity, I was so focused.”
Said Ross: “His fastball command was great. In and out. his curve was really good. We didn’t throw a change-up or a cutter.”
DAVID ORTIZ continues to swing the bat well. He has eight of Boston’s 24 hits in the World Series. And that was a problem for Ortiz. Why weren’t more of his teammates hitting? During the game, Ortiz called a unique meeting in the dugout.
Team meetings are rare enough, “and you never see one in the dugout,” outfielder Daniel Nava said.
“It was an impromptu ‘come on guys let’s get going.’ Just a wake-up, shake things around. It was a spur of the moment and it all worked out.”
Ortiz said, “I know we have better hitters than what we showed. I see guys that have dominated pitching that haven’t been able to come through.
“We have a good offensive team and I know we have guys capable of getting it done. Yeah, they have good pitching, but they throw the ball over the plate.”
How many players could get away with calling everyone together in the dugout? Very few. But Ortiz is definitely among them.
“There’s a presence,” Jonny Gomes said. “If this guy wants to rally us together for a pep talk, it was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher. He got everyone’s attention.”
JONNY GOMES also gets people’s attention. He remains a leader on this team with his powerful, persuasive and positive vibes.
Gomes joked about being inserted in the No. 5 spot in the lineup, behind David Ortiz.
“Came out to the dugout, looked up the lineup card,” Gomes said, “and now you’re going to have to protect David Ortiz.”
St. Louis still pitched around Ortiz. And Gomes hit a game-winning three-run homer.
“They got to be thinking that they can’t let David Ortiz beat them,” Ross said. “and Jonny Gomes does.
“That’s the kind of character he is. He expects to succeed. And he talks it 24/7 …’ Yeah we’re going to win. Of course we are.’
“Him and Pedroia are probably the two most mentally positive, almost a mental arrogance - but it’s not arrogance - it’s ‘I expect to do well.’ “
Speaking of DUSTIN PEDROIA, he played no small role in Sunday’s win. It was his two-out single in the sixth that began the rally. Ortiz followed with a walk. And then Gomes did his thing.
The Cardinals were still in it in the ninth inning, with pinch-runner Kolten Wong on first and clutch slugger Carlos Beltran up, representing the tying run. But closer Koji Uehara was keeping an eye on Wong.
Would he throw over, even though Wong was not important? There was no sign from the dugout. And Ross said, “I had nothing to do with it. It was all Koji.”
Uehara picked off Wong, ending the game without a pitch being thrown to Beltran.
“I’m so happy (Beltran) didn’t get a chance,” Ross said.
Now Boston has a chance. The Series is tied 2-2. Only one question remains:
How will Game 5 end?
Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.
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