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Final, 3-1 Red Sox: Koji Uehara retires the Cardinals in order. It’s all over in Game 5, and the Red Sox have a 3-2 lead in the World Series. When they next take the field, they’ll have the opportunity to win it all.
That will come Wednesday night at Fenway Park. For now, Boston has about 24 hours to celebrate a hard-fought victory tonight in Game 5.
Middle 9th, 3-1 Red Sox: Trevor Rosenthal throws gas, and he made short work of the Red Sox, retiring them in order.
It’s the top of the Cards’ order coming up to face Koji.
End 8th, 3-1 Red Sox: If you blinked, you might have missed that at-bat, which went: called strike, swinging strike, swinging strike.
And the Red Sox are just three outs away from a 3-2 lead.
Bottom 8th, 2 outs, 3-1 Red Sox: The tying run is at the plate, and John Farrell is asking his closer to get the final four outs of this game.
Lester got Craig to ground out to start the inning before Freese hit a double just over the first base bag. Pete Kozma was then left in by manager Mike Matheny, and the weak-hitting shortstop flew out to left field for the second out.
That’s when Farrell made the move, calling for a double switch (Napoli is now in for Ortiz) and for Koji Uehara to come on to face pinch hitter Matt Adams with a runner on second and two outs in the eighth.
Napoli is due up fourth in the ninth for Boston.
Middle 8th, 3-1 Red Sox: David Ortiz gets another hit, this one an “infield hit” only by technicality. Ortiz hit a grounder into the shift, but it forced Carpenter to chase it down before turning and throwing to first, and Ortiz beat it out. He is getting on base all sorts of ways these days, and it’s kind of ridiculous.
But that’s all the Red Sox got against Carlos Martinez in the eighth.
Lester is still in the game for the Sox.
End 7th, 3-1 Red Sox: Give Jon Lester a lead, and he goes into shutdown mode. He retired the Cards in order in the seventh, getting a fly out from Holliday, a pop out to shallow left from Beltran and a line out to second by Molina.
Lester can go in the eighth, as he’s still at just 81 pitches. He’s certainly doing a lot to establish his World Series legend.
Middle 7th, 3-1 Red Sox: The unpleasant possibility of the pitcher’s spot coming up with two on and two out looked to be a possibility. But then, David Ross solved all of Boston’s problems.
With Bogaerts (single) on second and Drew (walk) on first, Ross fell behind in the count 1-2. But he was able to turn on a curve ball and send a line drive down the left field line. Bogaerts scored to give the Sox a 2-1 lead.
Lester was going to bat regardless, but the huge RBI double by Ross made Lester’s harmless ground out to the pitcher easier for the Sox to swallow.
Ellsbury then stepped up with two on and two out and sent a cue shot into shallow center field. Drew scored easily from third, but Robinson’s throw to the plate arrived in plenty of time to mow down Ross. But the damage was done, and Lester — at 69 pitches — now has a two-run lead.
Nine outs needed.
End 6th, 1-1: Wainwright did indeed stay in the game, and he didn’t put up much of a fight, striking out looking on five pitches. Matt Carpenter and Shane Robinson then grounded out to end the inning, and Lester’s through six at just 69 pitches.
So long as he keeps pitching like this, he’ll be able to at least bridge the gap to the back end of the bullpen. That is, of course, assuming that Boston scores another run at some point. That hasn’t been so easy against Wainwright, who’s been just as good at Lester but is at 86 pitches through six.
Nava, Bogaerts and Drew are due up in the seventh, with Lester’s spot due up fifth. It’d be hard to imagine Farrell would pull Lester if that’s a one- or two-out RBI spot.
Middle 6th, 1-1: Breaking news: David Ortiz has recorded an out.
It was still a solid hit, a 375-foot line drive to straightaway center field, but Robinson was there to make the catch for the second out of the sixth inning.
Ortiz had reached base in 10 straight plate appearances, tying a World Series record, but it ended there.
Wainwright then struck out Gomes to end the inning. He’s got 9 K’s and has thrown 86 pitches. It stands to reason Matheny will keep him in, but we’ll find out right away, as he’s set to lead off the sixth for the Cardinals.
End 5th, 1-1: After a shaky fourth, Lester comes back with his best inning of the night in the fifth. He got Craig to ground out harmlessly to second before blowing a fastball past Freese and getting Kozma to pop out to Ortiz in foul ground to end the inning. That was important, too, because it means the pitcher’s spot will lead off the sixth for the Cardinals.
It’s Pedroia, Ortiz and Gomes coming up here with one more shot at Wainwright. Again, I ask, will Ortiz see a strike this time?
Middle 5th, 1-1: Xander Bogaerts led off with a single, Stephen Drew made a very loud out on a deep fly ball to right field, and David Ross then singled through the left side.
But Lester couldn’t get a bunt down, fouling one off with two strikes for Wainwright’s seventh strikeout of the night. Ellsbury then stepped up in a big spot but struck out swinging.
Wainwright now has 8 K’s, doubling his total from Game 1, and he’s at 70 pitches. That was a good chance there for the Red Sox to do something, but it was lousy timing for the pitcher to come up to bat.
End 4th, 1-1: When Matt Holliday stepped up in the first, he swung for the fences on a 1-0 count but missed. His second time up, he didn’t.
Holliday turned on an inside 1-0 fastball from Lester and crushed it to center field, over everything, to tie the game at 1-1.
Lester had been so good to that point, but all it takes is one pitch.
Beltran nearly made it back-to-back jacks for the Cardinals, but Nava was able to track the deep fly ball on the left field warning track for the second out of the inning. Molina then made solid contact, but Stephen Drew showed some Michael Jordan hops to make a leaping catch, rob Molina of a hit, and get Lester out of the inning.
Middle 4th, 1-0 Red Sox: Ortiz did indeed see a strike, fouling off the first pitch of his at-bat and sending the second into right field for a single. He’s now hitting .769 in the World Series this year which, obviously, is out of control.
It didn’t do any harm in this inning though, as Gomes flew out to left before Nava broke his bat while hitting into a 4-6-3 double play.
End 3rd, 1-0 Red Sox: Jon Lester isn’t known for his defense, but his play in the bottom of the third kept him out of a jam.
After Freese singled up the middle, Pete Kozma laid down a bunt on the first base line. Lester was able to barehand the ball and flip it over Kozma’s head, reaching Ortiz’s glove just a half-step before Kozma’s foot hit the bag.
Lester then got Wainwright to strike out swinging at an absolutely nasty cutter before catching Carpenter looking at an inside cutter for a called strike three. Carpenter argued, and he probably had a case, but with the way Lester’s had that cutter breaking tonight, he got the benefit of the doubt from home plate umpire Bill Miller.
It’s Ortiz, Gomes, Nava for the Sox in the fourth. Will Ortiz see a strike?
Middle 3rd, 1-0 Red Sox: Wainwright looks a lot like the guy who pitched innings three through five back in Game 1, as he made short work of the Red Sox in the third.
Lester tapped out just in front of the plate, Ellsbury popped out foul, and Pedroia grounded out to third.
It was a nine-pitch inning for Wainwright, who will come up third for the Cardinals this inning.
End 2nd, 1-0 Red Sox: Lester allows a leadoff single to Beltran, but comes back to catch Molina looking at strike three (a picture-perfect cutter on the outside edge) and get Craig to ground into an inning-ending double play. Drew bobbled the hard-hit grounder initially, but with the Cardinals’ injury ward on the base paths, he was able to recover in plenty of time for the flip to Pedroia and throw to first to be in time.
Lester’s at 25 pitches through two innings, and he’s getting exceptional movement on his breaking pitches.
He’s leading off the inning for the Sox as well.
Middle 2nd, 1-0 Red Sox: Aside from those two pitches in the first inning, Wainwright’s been pretty much unhittable to everybody else on the Red Sox.
He struck out the side again, in order this time, giving him six strikeouts through two innings. For the Red Sox, it’s like the ALCS all over again.
Wainwright only needed 16 pitches to strike out Bogaerts (curveball, swinging), Drew (curveball, swinging) and Ross (fastball, swinging), and he’s at 37 pitches through two.
End 1st, 1-0 Red Sox: Jon Lester shuts them down 1-2-3 in the first, getting Carpenter and Robinson to ground out before Holliday struck out swinging.
Robinson is an interesting choice for the two-hole, but he nearly made Matheny look like a genius with a hot shot back through the box. But Lester got his glove on it, deflecting it toward second base, where Pedroia was able to charge and make a nifty play to retire the Cards’ outfielder.
Middle 1st, 1-0 Red Sox: It took all of two pitches for the Red Sox to get themselves an early lead in Game 5.
Wainwright through an 0-2 curveball to Pedroia, and the pitch broke right over the plate about thigh high. Pedroia put a good swing on the ball and sent a double down the left field line.
Up stepped David Ortiz, who got a pitch to hit right away and didn’t miss the opportunity. Ortiz ripped a ball past the first base bag and just past the dive of Craig, allowing Pedroia to easily trot home with the game’s first run while Ortiz made it to second standing up.
Wainwright did record all three of his outs via called strike three, getting Ellsbury, Gomes and Nava, but Lester’s already been staked to an early lead.
Do you think Wainwright wanted to prove something by sneaking a first pitch strike past Ortiz, as if to show he’s not afraid to pitch to him, only to have it blow up in his face? With the way Ortiz is hitting anything close to the plate, throwing him one with a runner on second, one out, and first base open was curious. Very curious.
Top 1st, 0-0: Wainwright’s first pitch to Ellsbury is a ball away, and Game 5 has begun.
8 p.m.: The anthem’s been sung, the fans are going wild, and we’re now just a few minutes away from baseball.
6:15 p.m.: It’s another day and another baseball game for the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, and the winner tonight will find themselves just one win away from the World Series.
If there wasn’t motivation already, having that carrot there tonight is sure to raise the intensity level even higher for this one.
That’s hard to imagine, considering the emotional roller coasters both teams have ridden through four games, from wild throws to dramatic home runs to never-before-seen calls to end a game, this series has had it all.
What tonight will bring will depend largely on Jon Lester and Adam Wainwright, the aces of their respective teams in a rematch from Game 1. While Wainwright took the loss in that game, it came after a series of defensive flubs that allowed the Red Sox to get an early lead. Once the defense settled down, Wainwright settled in, so scoring probably won’t be so easy tonight.
For Lester, it’ll be all about maintaining the control he had in Game 1. He did run into a couple of jams, but he found a way out of them. That becomes even more difficult on the road, and with a bullpen that’s been asked to do a lot over the past two games, the pressure’s on Lester to really deliver.
Here are what the lineups will look like tonight.
1. Ellsbury, CF
2. Pedroia, 2B
3. Ortiz, 1B
4. Gomes, LF
5. Nava, RF
6. Bogaerts, 3B
7. Drew, SS
8. Ross, C
9. Lester, P
1. Carpenter, 2B
2. Robinson, CF
3. Holliday, LF
4. Beltran, RF
5. Molina, C
6. Craig, 1B
7. Freese, 3B
8. Kozma, SS
9. Wainwright, P
Matheny is obviously taking a gamble by putting Craig in there, given how poorly he’s running with that foot problem. He re-injured the foot in the obstruction fiasco in Game 3, and he only made it to first base on a ball he hit about 345 feet in Game 4 as a pinch hitter. But he may be their best hitter, and if he comes up in an RBI situation, he could very well play the game.
For the Red Sox, Shane Victorino remains out, an indication of just how bad that back problem is for him. It wasn’t a problem last night, as Jonny Gomes hit the game-changing three-run homer in his place. Gomes will bat cleanup tonight after Pedroia and Ortiz both moved up a spot with Victorino out. Once again, with the Cardinals likely to nibble around the edges with Ortiz at the plate, Gomes will likely face a number of chances with a runner or runners on base.