From ESPN: Boston
There’s an old story that in April of 1947, over maybe a few too many drinks at Toots Shor’s restaurant in New York, Yankees owner Dan Topping and Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey had agreed to the biggest trade in baseball history: Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams. DiMaggio would get to play in Fenway Park with its inviting Green Monster instead of cavernous Yankee Stadium (457 feet to deep left-center back then) and Williams would get to move to Yankee Stadium with its short right-field porch.
Yawkey woke up the next morning and came to his senses, telling Topping that his people in Boston wouldn’t do the trade. The Red Sox had just won the pennant in 1946, Williams was four years younger, Boston already had an excellent center fielder in Joe’s brother Dom and Joe had undergone offseason surgery on his heel. There wasn’t a good reason for Boston to consider such a move. In checking biographies on both Williams and DiMaggio, this story appears to come from a Dave Anderson column from the New York Times in 1980 (both Yawkey and Topping were dead by then) and not from contemporaneous newspaper accounts. Anderson’s column also suggests Yawkey, after turning down Williams for DiMaggio, asked Topping to include his “little left fielder” — a rookie named Yogi Berra.
The Berra part sounds a little apocryphal to me — for one thing, Berra had only played a few games in right field in April of that year, not left, and had hit .225 with no home runs. It doesn’t seem likely that Yawkey would have viewed Berra as the difference-maker to swing the trade. While the Red Sox never won another pennant with Williams, it would have been a terrible deal for them: DiMaggio would play just five more seasons and 625 games while Williams would play another 1,556 games (not to mention the time he missed in 1952-53 to resume military duty for the Korean War).
What I didn’t know until recently reading Richard J. Tofel’s book “A Legend in the Making: The New York Yankees of 1939” is that DiMaggio and Williams could have been teammates if not for the twists of fate. Imagine a Yankees outfield with DiMaggio and Williams side by side. Not that the Yankees struggled without Williams.
DiMaggio had first starred with his hometown San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League as an 18-year-old in 1933, hitting .340 with 28 home runs in 187 games, including a 61-game hitting streak. Major league teams attempted to purchase DiMaggio — the Yankees reportedly offered $75,000 — but Seals owner Charley Graham elected to keep his prized asset for 1934. Remember, back then most of the minor league teams were independent of the majors, selling players to big league teams or even making trades.
In May of that year, DiMaggio hurt his knee climbing into a car. In his autobiography, DiMaggio said he had been visiting his sister, took a cab home and slipped on the climb out because “my left foot must have fallen asleep from the awkward position in which I was sitting.” Richard Ben Cramer’s biography of DiMaggio, “Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life,” reports that the San Francisco Examiner at the time reported DiMaggio had slipped in the early hours of the morning at Fourth and Market — an area full of bars and nightclubs. Cramer’s insinuation that DiMaggio may have been “loaded” is speculative, but DiMaggio’s own account certainly isn’t true.
Anyway, DiMaggio missed some time, attempted to play through the injury and didn’t hit as well when he returned. He still managed to hit .341 with 12 home runs in 101 games but Graham, who had been hoping for $100,00 for DiMaggio before the injury, now saw interest wane in his young star.
The Yankees, however, remained interested. West Coast scout Joe Devine had loved DiMaggio and he had a local scout named Bill Essick check into DiMaggio’s knee. According to Cramer’s book, the Yankees paid for an orthopedic specialist to examine DiMaggio and the surgeon reported that the 19-year-old should be able to recover from the injury. Essick told Yankees general manager Ed Barrow, “Don’t give up on DiMaggio. I think you can get him cheap.”
He was right. With other teams out of the running or short on cash during the Depression, the Yankees got DiMaggio for $25,000 and five prospects, with the caveat that the Seals could keep DiMaggio for one more year and the Yankees could get their money back if DiMaggio’s knee didn’t hold up. He hit .398 with 34 home runs in 1935 and joined the Yankees in 1936. DiMaggio was an immediate star, hitting .323 with 29 home runs and 125 RBIs, and the Yankees won the first of four consecutive World Series titles.
* * * *
Williams was another California kid, from San Diego. While DiMaggio was tearing up the American League in 1936, Williams was playing at Hoover High School that spring. Tofel writes,
For the Yankees, Williams was the one who got away. Bill Essick, the same Yankee scout who recognized late in 1934 that DiMaggio was still worth $25,000 despite his knee injury, failed to sign Williams eighteen months later. Essick offered a $500 signing bonus but refused to meet Williams’s mother’s demand for $1,000.
Did the Yankees really lose Williams over $500? I had never heard that story before. I checked out Ben Bradlee Jr.’s comprehensive Williams biography — “The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams” — that came out in 2013 for more detail. As Williams was finishing up at Hoover, Bradlee reports that scouts had been tracking Williams for some time, with a local bird dog named Herb Benninghoven, who worked for the Cardinals, Williams’ “most ardent suitor.” Also interested in Williams was a bird dog named Elmer Hill, who worked for Essick. After Williams hit a long home run in an American Legion game, Hill and Essick showed up at Williams’ house.
Bradlee quotes Williams’ autobiography:
Essick was as anxious as anyone to get me. I’ll never forget what he said: “Ted, if I didn’t think you were going to be a New York Yankee, I’d never sign you.” Maybe he said that to everybody, but that sure impressed me. I think he offered me $200 a month and a $500 bonus if I made the team at [Class A] Binghamton, New York, but the story is my mother asked for a $1,000 bonus and Essick refused.
Note carefully the wording. Williams isn’t exactly saying that he didn’t because his mother asked for more money, but seems to be repeating a story that had been told by others.
Still, the Yankees remained interested, later offering $250 a month or $400 a month if he made the Yankees’ Pacific Coast League affiliate, and Hill apparently believed that an agreement in principle was in place once Williams finished high school. The Tigers also scouted Williams but area scout Marty Krug deemed Williams too skinny. The Los Angeles Angels of the PCL tried to sign Williams, but Ted’s father didn’t like the team’s manager. Benninghoven, still interested in Williams, invited him to a Cardinals tryout in Fullerton, where Branch Rickey would be present. Bradlee writes, “At the tryouts, the speed-conscious Rickey required recruits to run race after race with numbers pinned to their backs. But the day before the tryout, Ted was hit by a pitch on his thigh, just above the knee. Slow anyway, Ted was made even less mobile by the injury, and he largely went through the motions. Rickey showed no interest in him.”
Benninghoven did finally get the Cardinals to make an offer, but Williams figured St. Louis wasn’t the quickest way to the majors. Sam Williams, Ted’s father, reportedly asked the Yankees for another $25 a month. In a 1957 letter, Hill wrote that he agreed to this with Williams and his mother. Ted’s parents had a strained marriage, often living apart, and it appears Sam Williams was working in Sacramento at the time. Williams ended up signing on June 25 with the San Diego Padres, a new team that year in the PCL, for $150 a month. For the cash-strapped Williams family, apparently the fact that the Padres had agreed to pay him for the entire month of June was a crucial factor, along with Ted’s mother liking the club’s owner.
Williams played sparingly the rest of the season for the Padres, hitting .271 with no home runs in 107 at-bats. In 1937, at the age of 18, he hit .291 with 23 home runs. Now, just about every major league team wanted Williams. The Yankees were still interested as were the Tigers and New York Giants. Casey Stengel, who had been hired as manager of the Boston Bees (Braves) for 1938, had been out of baseball in 1937 but saw Williams when he played in Stengel’s hometown of Oakland and liked the kid’s potential. The Bees made an offer.
The Yankees fell out of the bidding, perhaps because of Joe Devine’s scouting report that said Ted “is a very slow lad, not a good outfielder now, just an average arm. There is no doubt Williams will never be a fast enough to get by in the majors as an outfielder. His best feature now is that he shows promise as a hitter, but good pitching so far has stopped him cold.”
And then there were the Red Sox, who had closely watched Williams all season and had discussed a deal with Padres owner Bill Lane. Lane held off during the season but told other teams that he had promised Red Sox general manager Eddie Collins the right of first refusal. At the winter meetings that year, however, Yawkey suddenly seemed reluctant to spend the money, saying he was tired of buying other teams’ players and that Boston was trying to develop its own farm system. Collins insisted they needed to make an exception for Williams.
Lane was about to give up on the Red Sox and sell Williams to another team when the two sides finally agreed on a deal: $25,000 and four players for Williams. The Red Sox were so lacking in minor leaguers at the time that Collins had farm director Billy Evans quickly acquire four players he could then trade to the Padres. The Tigers ($30,000) and Giants ($31,000) had reportedly offered more money, but Williams belonged to Boston.
Williams spent 1938 at Minneapolis, where he hit .366 with 43 home runs. He joined the Red Sox in 1939 and would spend much of the next 12 years chasing DiMaggio and the Yankees. While both players were active, the Red Sox would win just that one pennant in 1946, five times finishing in second place.
* * * *
How close did Williams come to signing with the Yankees? It’s difficult to say with any degree of accuracy all these years later. Certainly, dealing with Williams’ parents was difficult. The family was poor — Williams wrote that he was embarrassed to bring scouts to his house — and strapped for cash, thus wanted some sort of signing of bonus. Williams’ autobiography makes it appear as if he was willing to sign with the Yankees; when Boston finally purchased him from the Padres, he wrote that he was disappointed. “The Red Sox didn’t mean a thing to me. A fifth-, sixth-place club [the Red Sox had finished in sixth in 1936], the farthest from San Diego I could go. I certainly wasn’t a Boston fan.”
The scout Elmer Hill seemed to blame Williams’ mother for reneging on an agreement, but that could be some re-imagining of the facts years later. Or maybe the Yankees really did just cheap out in the end.
One more thing, however. Williams didn’t actually graduate from high school in the spring of 1936. He still had one more semester to go. Doesn’t it make sense that maybe Williams’ mother wanted him to finish school? He could sign with the Padres, get the family a little money in the short-term, play for them that summer and then finish his last semester of school in the fall. Also, Lane had apparently promised the Williams family a percentage of any sale in the future, so May Williams would eventually get her bonus money.
In fact, when Williams was sold, the Williams family asked for $5,000 from Lane, who now refused to give the family anything. The Williamses said Ted was a free agent and could sign with any team. All winter, reporters wrote on the squabbles going on with the Williams family, the Padres and the Red Sox. Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis ordered Collins to make sure he got Williams to sign a Red Sox contract.
He eventually did, but not until mid-February, and not until the Red Sox finally gave May Williams $2,500.
(Most of the information here was gathered from the books by Ben Bradlee Jr. and Richard Ben Cramer. I recommend both.)
From: Ann Killion of the SFGate
The Baseball Hall of Fame ballots are due at the end of the month and the process just got more confusing than ever.
Steroid players? Still unlikely to be voted in.
Steroid managers? That’s a different story.
The Boys of Steroids are still on the Boys of Summer ballot: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro are among the 36 players on the 2014 ballot. They’re all there to be accepted or – more likely – rejected by the majority of the 500-plus Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters who participate (I’m one of those voters).
Last year, none of the players who come with substantial evidence that they used steroids received more than 37.6 percent of the vote. They need 75 percent of the votes to be inducted. Last year not a single player was voted into the Hall of Fame, making for a muted ceremony that probably contributed little to the Cooperstown economy.
Players stay on the ballot for 15 years, so this issue is far from over. However, it takes a lot of mind-changing – and a long time – for a player to jump almost 40 percentage points in balloting.
So all of those players must look at what just happened with the Expansion Era Committee voting last weekend and feel puzzled. Three of the best, most successful managers of the steroid era were elected unanimously: Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and – most notably – Tony La Russa. Easy, quick, no fuss.
If there were an all-steroid baseball team (Bonds in left, McGwire at first, Clemens on the mound – we can keep going), there’s no doubt who the manager would be. It would be La Russa, who managed the A’s in the late ’80s and early ’90s Bash Brothers era, widely considered Ground Zero for rampant steroid use. Then La Russa went on to manage the St. Louis Cardinals, where McGwire made it fashionable to use steroids to break baseball’s most hallowed records.
Along the way to this week’s Hall of Fame vote, La Russa has been a hypocritical steroid-era bully, pointing fingers at and calling out players he didn’t like, even ones he managed, such as Canseco, while simultaneously angrily defending McGwire and others. He eventually hired McGwire as his hitting coach in a transparent attempt to improve the slugger’s Hall of Fame chances. That backfired: McGwire’s vote tallies actually continue to drop. La Russa has both claimed that everyone knew Canseco was on steroids and to have no knowledge that McGwire was juicing. La Russa has attacked every reporter or outsider who dared to raise the issue.
But he, along with Torre and Cox, was unanimously elected inside a hotel room in Orlando by 16 voters on the Expansion Era Committee. The Chronicle’s Bruce Jenkins was one of those voters and is sworn to absolute secrecy about the details of the process. But he did describe a closed-door environment where “everyone spoke the same language,” and held old-school values, removed from “the complex lingo of new-age stat devotees.”
I’m sure that the discussion of how the candidates benefited from steroids, if it was raised at all, took a back seat to all the other accomplishments in the candidates’ resumes. The managers elected were certainly helped by the belief that everyone was looking the other way. Of course those same arguments could and have been made on behalf of the steroid-era players on the ballot, and – for now – have been rejected by voters.
So would the steroid-tainted players benefit from getting into that exclusive kind of Expansion Era Committee environment – which they eventually may if they aren’t inducted while on the active ballot? Don’t be so sure. The most vocal opponents of steroid use are the men who have made it into the Hall of Fame. They believe their game and legacy has been tainted (and probably want to keep the Hall of Fame as exclusive as possible). Men such as Frank Robinson, Rod Carew and Andre Dawson who were on this year’s committee all have publicly damned steroid use. A 75 percent threshold would be hard to reach without the former players.
And the committee isn’t likely to embrace the old argument for letting in steroid users, that “you can’t write the history of baseball without them.” After all, they just rejected union leader Marvin Miller, whose contributions are significant to baseball history. Miller, of course, was instrumental in keeping drug testing out of the game for so long.
The process is muddied on so many levels. ESPN commentator Keith Olbermann had an interesting rant about La Russa’s election, noting that Pete Rose is banned from the ballot for betting while managing, which might have caused an unfair and illegal advantage to opponents, while “Tony La Russa was manager of the Founding Fathers of modern PED use who, because of their unfair and illegal advantage, doubtless won games they were not supposed to win.”
Sigh. It’s an honor. It’s a puzzle.
Free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran has agreed to a three-year, $45 million deal with the New York Yankees, sources confirmed to ESPN.com on Friday night.
Beltran, 36, hit .296 with 24 home runs and 84 RBIs in 145 games this past season for the NL champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Beltran took $3 million less to sign with the Yankees, sources told ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand. Beltran had an offer for three years and $48 million with another club. A source with knowledge of those discussions said Beltran was “down the road” with that team.
Beltran met with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Phoenix earlier this week, when the team made a three-year offer exceeding $45 million, The Arizona Republic reported Friday.
The Kansas City Royals, Beltran’s first major league team, also pursued him. But the Royals filled their outfield void with a trade for Milwaukee’s Norichika Aoki on Thursday.
The Yankees had sent out signals that they wouldn’t be willing to go to three years on a deal for Beltran, but they relented to get an agreement done in advance of the winter meetings, which begin Monday in Orlando, Fla. The pact with Beltran, which comes on the same day former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano agreed to a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners, marks the latest addition to a revamped lineup in the Bronx.
Beltran and fellow free-agent signings Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann will give manager Joe Girardi a decidedly new batting order for a total long-term cost of $283 million.
The opportunity to see the Boston Red Sox win a World Series at home for the first time in a lifetime has turned Game 6 at Fenway Park into the most expensive local ticket in the city’s history.
As of 10 a.m. ET Tuesday, the average list price on the resale market for a ticket to Wednesday night’s game was $1,860, according to TiqIQ, a ticket tracking company.
Bleacher seats to the game, which could have been had for $300 last week, were selling for $1,100 on Tuesday morning.
On Monday night, someone who wanted two of the best seats in the house paid $24,000 on StubHub for a pair of tickets in the first row in a dugout box between home plate and one of the on-deck circles.
“There was this type of excitement in 2004 for the Red Sox home games because people thought it would never come again,” said Jim Holzman of Ace Ticket, a Boston-based brokerage that has been in business for 33 years.
The Red Sox went on to win the World Series in 2004 and again in 2007, ending it on the road both times. The last time the Red Sox won it all in Boston was with a victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 11, 1918.
“People want to see them win it here,” Holzman said. “That’s what has made this the biggest ticket we’ve ever seen. It’s the Super Bowl except people don’t have to pay $1,000 for a hotel and $2,000 for airfare.”
Holzman said fans began buying tickets in earnest Monday night after the Red Sox scored in the top of the first inning during their 3-1 Game 5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Prices were going up $50 an inning,” Holzman said.
Let’s take a look back some highlights of that infamous 1918 Series:
The 1918 World Series featured the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Chicago Cubs four games to two. The Series victory for the Red Sox was their fifth in five tries, going back to 1903. The Red Sox scored only nine runs in the entire Series; the fewest runs by the winning team in World Series history. Along with the 1906 and 1907 World Series, the 1918 World Series is one of only three Fall Classics where neither team hit a home run.
The Series was held early in September because of the World War I “Work or Fight” order that forced the premature end of the regular season on September 1, and remains the only World Series to be played entirely in September.
The Chicago home games in the series were played at Comiskey Park, which had a greater seating capacity than Weeghman Park, the prior home of the Federal League Chicago Whales that the Cubs were now using and which would be rechristened Wrigley Field in 1925. The Red Sox had played their home games in the 1915 and 1916 World Series in the more expansive Braves Field, but they returned to Fenway Park for the 1918 series.
Game 1 of the 1918 World Series marked the first time “The Star Spangled Banner” was performed at a major league game. During the seventh inning stretch, the band began playing the song due to the fact the country was involved in World War I. The song would be named the national anthem of the United States in 1931, and during World War II its playing would become a regular pregame feature of baseball games and other sporting events. The winning pitcher of Game 1 was none other than Babe Ruth, who pitched a shutout.
The Red Sox, who had won the American League but lost the Series in 1946, 1967, 1975, and 1986, finally won the World Series in 2004 and then won again in 2007. The drought of 86 years was often attributed to the Curse of the Bambino. The alleged curse came to be when the Red Sox traded the superbly talented but troublesome Babe Ruth (who was instrumental in their 1918 victory) to the New York Yankees for cash after the 1919 season.
Wednesday, September 11, 1918 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance for Game 6 at Fenway on Wednesday, September 11, was down from over 24,000 on Tuesday to a mere 15,238, but the Red Sox went home happy. Max Flack’s third-inning error allowed two Sox runs to score, which were all they needed for a 2–1 victory and the World’s Championship of 1918 behind Carl Mays’ second win of the Series.
|WP: Carl Mays (2–0) LP: Lefty Tyler (1–1)|
After Game 6, it would be some 87 years until the Cubs and Red Sox would play again. A three-game interleague matchup at Wrigley Field began June 10, 2005 and was Boston’s first ever visit to the park. The Cubs would not return to Fenway Park for nearly 94 years until a three-game interleague matchup beginning May 20, 2011.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said that Shane Victorino’s back strain is much improved and he will be available off the bench in Game 5 Monday night, but there were still questions about how long he could go if he started, so he’s not in the lineup.
Farrell said he expects Victorino to be able to start Game 6 in Boston.
Farrell also made a small but significant change to his batting order, sliding Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Gomes up one spot in the order, with Nava dropping from second to fifth. Farrell said he did so to “lengthen” the lineup behind Ortiz, who is batting .727 (8 for 11) in the Series and has reached base safely seven consecutive times, his on-base average at .750.
As for his bullpen for Game 5, Farrell said Game 3 starter Jake Peavy will be available, and that he would turn to left-hander Felix Doubront, who has pitched in back-to-back games for the first time since 2011, “only in an emergency.’’
Doubront would appear to loom as a potential option in the event Farrell elects not to start Peavy in Game 7, especially since the Cardinals hit right-handers significantly better (.278/.340/.413/.753) than left-handers (.242/.309/.366/.675) in the regular season. However, the Cardinals routed baseball’s best pitcher, Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, 9-0, in the deciding game of the NLCS.
Left-hander Craig Breslow, who has retired only one of seven batters he’s faced in the World Series (the out came on a sacrifice fly), looks “a little bit tentative — he hasn’t settled in against their lineup,’’ Farrell said. “He doesn’t have the same familiarity with them as he does with the American League lineups.’’
In something of a surprise, Farrell said that Game 4 starter Clay Buchholz came to him Monday and volunteered to pitch out of the pen when the Series returns to Boston on Wednesday. Game 2 starter John Lackey did the same thing last week, Farrell said, and pitched a scoreless eighth inning Sunday night.
“The way [Buchholz] came out of [Sunday’s start], he told me last night he would be in here [Monday] to get ready for another opportunity,’’ Farrell said. “By no means has he shut down anything physically or mentally.
“When he came back to the dugout after the second inning, he said, ‘I haven’t even tried to throw the ball hard yet,’’’ Farrell said. “I said, ‘Based on what’s happened, you don’t need to.’ He has such feel and can manipulate the ball, even when he’s lacking power, his cutter and two-seamer are very effective.’’
Asked about his rotation plans, Farrell said that as far as Peavy starting Game 7, “everything points to that right now,’’ but added, “Everybody’s available in Game 7.’’
For Game 5, Allen Craig, who has been dealing with a foot injury, was a late addition to the Cardinals lineup. He will bat sixth and play first base. Also, Mike Matheny moved Carlos Beltran, who batted second in an 8-1 loss to Game 5 starter Jon Lester in Game 1, will hit cleanup behind Matt Holliday. Shane Robinson, who hit eighth in Game 1, will bat second.
Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino was not in the starting lineup for Monday night’s Game 5 of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, marking the second straight game he’ll be sidelined with lower-back tightness, though manager John Farrell has since noted “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” will be should be available off the bench.
Jonny Gomes will again take his spot in the lineup playing left field, with Daniel Nava moving to Victorino’s place in right field.
The Red Sox also shuffled their lineup a bit, moving Dustin Pedroia from the third spot to second and David Ortiz from fourth to third. Game 4 hero Gomes will hit cleanup, followed by Nava.
David Ross will be behind the plate for the second straight game.
RED SOX LINEUP
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, 1B
4. Jonny Gomes, LF
5. Daniel Nava, RF
6. Xander Bogaerts, 3B
7. Stephen Drew, SS
8. David Ross, C
9. Jon Lester, SP
• Starting pitchers: Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA)
• Scouting report on Wainwright: Not much went right for Wainwright in Game 1 against the Red Sox. A seven-pitch walk to Jacoby Ellsbury in the first was only the start of the 32-year-old’s rough night as he allowed three runs in the opening inning, partly due to poor defensive play behind him. However, with the series tied 2-2, Wainwright has another crack at giving his team the advantage moving forward.
“It’s a pretty clean slate [from my last start],” Wainwright said Sunday in his news conference at Busch Stadium. “I honestly don’t know why my mechanics were as bad as they were [and] my delivery was off as much as it was. But I feel like I’ve put a lot of good reps in in front of the mirror and watching film and feeling my delivery again.”
“I feel like I’ve made a lot of good adjustments to be ready for this next game to throw some quality pitches.”
In his Game 1 start, Wainwright’s curveball was his best pitch. He used his curveball for 15 of his final 33 pitches, a span that saw him retire seven straight batters before allowing a David Ortiz single in the fifth inning that he was able to pitch around. Overall, Wainwright went five innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits and striking out four.
“I learned that they hit mistakes,” Wainwright said of his first career start against Boston last Wednesday. “And I learned that if I make mistakes in the middle of the plate up in the zone, they’re going to hit them.”
Overall, Wainwright is 2-2 in his four postseason starts with a 2.25 ERA. The right-hander has allowed seven runs (five earned) in his past 12 innings after allowing only two runs in his first 16 innings pitched of the playoffs.
• Scouting report on Lester: Putting aside the speculation that he was in some way doctoring his pitches in Game 1, Lester pitched masterfully, shutting out the Cardinals’ potent offense for 7 2/3 innings and striking out eight batters. The start was yet another in a string of successful starts Lester has made in October, something he says he doesn’t know how to explain.
“I feel like I’ve pitched pretty [well] throughout most of my seasons, and it’s just carried over into the postseason,” Lester said Sunday. “I don’t know what it is. I like this stage. I like knowing that I’ve got to go out there and give everything I’ve got for my teammates, because tomorrow might be our last game. You don’t know; I guess that just gives you that little extra focus.”
Of Lester’s 10 career postseason starts, seven have been of the quality variety — at least six innings pitched and three runs or fewer allowed. The 29-year-old has gone 5-4 in 12 postseason appearances overall, posting a 2.22 ERA. Of his 69 postseason innings pitched, 13 1/3 have come in the World Series, where he has yet to allow a run.
“I think the one thing that we all recognize is that the power stuff wins in the postseason,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Sunday. “He’s got it, he maintains it, and yet, in addition to his physical strengths, there’s a level of concentration that he’s capable of maintaining that gives him the ability to execute consistently over the time he’s on the mound. Those two things combined are what’s given [him] the career performance he’s had in the postseason.”
This will be the first time in his career that Lester has made five starts in a single postseason.
Three Cardinals players to watch
• Carlos Beltran, RF: Beltran was only given one shot at Lester in Game 1, striking out swinging on four pitches before being removed from the game due to a rib contusion. Beltran has three hits in 10 World Series at-bats so far, two of which have come in his two at-bats with runners in scoring position. Beltran was left with a bat in his hand at home plate in the ninth inning of Game 4 after Kolten Wong was picked off first base to end the game.
• David Freese, 3B: Since singling in the ninth inning of Game 1, Freese has been held hitless in his past eight at-bats, a streak that’s resulted in him being dropped to seventh in the order. Of the 13 runners he’s left on base the past four games, six have been left in scoring position.
• Pete Kozma, SS: In keeping with pattern, manager Mike Matheny has selected Kozma to start at short in Games 1 and 3 while going with Daniel Descalso in Games 2 and 4. The difference between the two has been a wash offensively, as Descalso is 0-for-6 while Kozma is 0-for-8 through the first four games of the series. However, Kozma was the only St. Louis Cardinals hitter to not strike out in Game 1, seeing 13 pitches in his three plate appearances.
Three Red Sox players to watch
• David Ortiz, 1B: A lot of the talk leading into the World Series was about how many games Ortiz would play at first base over Mike Napoli. But Ortiz has ended that conversation, with a gaudy .727 batting average, a result of eight hits in 11 at-bats. His eight hits have accounted for a third of the Red Sox’s total in the series (24). He also has two of Boston’s three homers and he leads the team in RBI (5) and runs (5). He has collected hits in his past four at-bats and is the only Boston starter to not strike out so far.
• Jonny Gomes, LF: With outfielder Shane Victorino’s status still unknown following his late scratch before Game 4, Gomes re-proved his worth in the lineup to Farrell by hitting what turned out to be the game-winning three-run home run for Boston in the sixth inning, ending his 0-for-9 skid to start the World Series. Gomes also worked a 10-pitch walk in the fifth and a six-pitch walk in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game, a step back on the right track for a player with whom Boston has won eight of nine postseason starts.
• Xander Bogaerts, 3B: Bogaerts started off the series going 0-for-6 with four strikeouts in Games 1 and 2 before turning it on in St. Louis to collect three hits in his past seven at-bats. The 21-year-old’s .231 average is third on the team behind Ortiz (.727) and Dustin Pedroia (.267).
Three key considerations:
• Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa has appeared in all four World Series games, the only pitcher on either team to do so. Farrell has used Tazawa to face just one batter in three of his four appearances, something the 27-year-old did in only two of his 71 appearances during the regular season.
• Sunday night’s win guaranteed that the series will shift back to Fenway Park for at least a Game 6. So far this postseason, Boston is 5-2 at home compared to 4-3 on the road.
• David Ross will be back behind the plate in Game 5, according to Farrell. Ross has caught all four of Lester’s starts this postseason, including Game 1 where he went 1-for-2 against Wainwright. It will be Ross’s second consecutive start since regular starter Jarrod Saltalamacchia made a throw that led to the obstruction call that ended Game 3.