October 30, 2013

Red Sox pose formidable World Series challenge

A huge challenge awaits the Cardinals in Game 6.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

It was bad enough that the St. Louis Cardinals were delayed several hours trying to get to Boston for the World Series, which resumes at 8:07 p.m. Wednesday.

click image to enlarge

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz walks into the dugout after a workout at Fenway Park in Boston, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013. The Red Sox are scheduled to host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of baseball's World Series on Wednesday.

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

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GAME 6

WHO: Red Sox (Lackey) vs. Cardinals (Wacha)

WHEN: 8:07 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Fenway Park

TV: FOX

SERIES: Red Sox lead, 3-2

WORLD SERIES BREAKDOWN THROUGH 5 GAMES

Key stats for the Red Sox and Cardinals entering Game 6 of the World Series on Wednesday at Fenway Park.

Boston/St. Louis

Team batting

.205 average .218

4.2 Runs per game 2.6

33 Hits 36

7 Errors 4

3 Home runs 2

37 Strikeouts 50

12 Walks 14

21 RBI 11

2.01 Team ERA 3.48

 

Other fast facts

David Ortiz is batting .733 (11 for 15); the rest of the team is at .144 (22 of 146)

The Red Sox have a chance to win a World Series at Fenway Park for the first time since Game 6 in 1918.

In 1918, the average time of game was 1:51. The Game 6 attendance was 15,238.

Jon Lester and Babe Ruth are the Sox lefties who have won three Series games.

Plane trouble had the Cardinals stranded in St. Louis for seven hours, not leaving until 9 p.m.

Then there is the challenge of returning to Fenway Park, down 3-2 in the Series and needing to win twice.

“Our guys have been backed up against the wall before,” Manager Mike Matheny said. In the best-of-five National League division series, St Louis trailed Pittsburgh 2-1 and then won two straight (one win in each city).

So St. Louis can come back against the Red Sox. But what are the Cardinals going to do about David Ortiz?

“If you know of something, I’m all ears,” Matheny said. “We’ve been trying to pitch him differently. “You have to realize this is not just a hot hitter but a good hitter. He’s been proven over time to be able to step up and really make a good run.”

A good run?

In the World Series Ortiz is batting .733 (11 for 15), with a .750 on-base percentage, along with two doubles, two home runs and six RBI.

And yes, he is proven. Ortiz has a career .476 average (20 for 42) in the World Series, the best among any player with at least 50 plate appearances.

“We respect that and we understand that,” Matheny said. “We also understand when our guys are making pitches … we can get anybody out.

“But right now we can’t deny the fact that this guy is extremely hot.”

The job of stopping Ortiz and the Red Sox goes to rookie right-hander Michael Wacha, who is 4-0 in the postseason with a 1.00 ERA. Two of the three earned runs he’s allowed came on a two-run Ortiz homer in Game 2.

“I can’t really tell you my plan on how I’m going to pitch him,” Wacha said, “but yeah, he’s a great hitter.”

 

WEDNESDAY NIGHT’S lineup won’t be the usual one the Red Sox use against a right-hander. But Wacha, with his excellent change-up, is actually tougher on left-handed hitters (who bat .197 against him, compared to .242 by right-handers).

Shane Victorino, out the past two games with a sore back, returns to right field. Jonny Gomes remains in left (which means Daniel Nava sits) and David Ross will catch.

Boston will also have Mike Napoli back at first base after sitting in St. Louis.

 

BOSTON’S BULLPEN will be fresh with only Koji Uehara used Monday. Farrell said Felix Doubront will be available. Brandon Workman, Junichi Tazawa and possibly Craig Breslow will the the primary arms out of the bullpen before Uehara.

 

MATHENY SAID the long wait for the plane to depart wasn’t really a problem.

“Fortunately we have plenty of food, snacks for the kids, lots of entertainment with on-board movies, and most everybody travels with all their high-tech stuff,” Matheny said. “Most of the kids are pretty happy they’re not in school right now, and it’s a great way to spend a day.”

As for the atmosphere at Fenway Park, Matheny said it helps to have played there already in Games 1 and 2.

“The ramped-up atmosphere is really one of the perks and benefits playing in the postseason,” said Matheny. “Guys have played their whole career and dream about being in this atmosphere where the fans are excited, into it, the place is packed and alive and buzzing. So that really isn’t a detriment.”

 

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:kthomas@pressherald.comTwitter: @ClearTheBases

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