World Series Game 5 Preview: Pivotal Finale in St. Louis

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Can this Red Sox-Cardinals series get any stranger?

This World Series between Boston and St. Louis has been one strange ending after another.

World Series – Game 5
Boston at St. Louis
8:07 ET Fox
Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75) vs. Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94)


Two crazy endings in Games 3 and 4 knotted the Series at two games each for Boston and St. Louis. The Cardinals have one more shot at home before ending the series back in Boston. Much like Game 4 was a critical game for the Red Sox, it’s almost as if Game 5 is a must-win for St. Louis. Going back to Boston down a game would be a tough predicament, to say the least. The rematch of Game 1 starters Jon Lester and Adam Wainwright promises more pitching dominance. Lester was terrific in Game 1, and St. Louis continues to struggle against lefthanders. Wainwright was not in top form in Game 1, but his teammates let him down at the plate, and especially in the field. Expect him to bounce back.

Keys for Boston
The Red Sox must play a clean game behind Lester, but more importantly get to Wainwright early. Allowing the Redbirds’ ace to settle in will spell trouble. He led the majors in innings this season and has proven he can go the distance and seems to get stronger in the late innings. Also, an early lead will keep the sea of red in the stands quieter.

Keys for St. Louis
The Cardinals must figure out a way to get David Ortiz out. The big man is batting .727 with four walks in this series and has made a few loud outs. The Redbirds’ plan of pitching around him had been working until Jonny Gomes’ three-run shot last night after a four-pitch walk to Ortiz. St. Louis has yet to have an explosive offensive game in this series. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are the hitters that need to ignite this offense tonight. In Game 1, the Red Sox took a lot of pitches, especially the first time through the order against Wainwright. They swung and missed just eight times against the St. Louis ace. Wainwright must adjust and not allow his pitch count to run up too quickly.

Red Sox to Watch
Ortiz continues to torment the Cardinals. They’ve thrown soft stuff, hard stuff, lefties, righties and nothing has worked. Whoever hits in front and behind Big Papi must continue to foil the Cardinals’ plan of pitching around Ortiz. Presumably, that would be Dustin Pedroia in front and Gomes, once again, behind Ortiz.

Cardinals to Watch
The Cardinals were aggressive in Game 1, and didn’t have but one five-pitch at-bat the first time through the order. But Holliday and Yadier Molina had some a good at-bats off Lester, so expect the Cardinals’ attack to begin with Beltran — who had just one plate appearance — and Holliday and Molina. Both Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal got a day of rest yesterday, so Matheny may ask the two of them to get the final nine outs.
 
Key Stats
Ortiz is batting .727 in the series while his teammates are scuffling at .138…The Red Sox have to be more opportunistic offensively scoring 18 runs on just 24 hits…The Cardinals have 32 hits, but managed just 12 runs…Left-handed pitcher Franklin Morales is the only Boston player yet to see action in the series. Backup catcher Tony Cruz and pitchers Shelby Miller and Edward Mujica have yet to get in a game for St. Louis…Holliday has three of the Cardinals’ seven extra-base hits. Ortiz owns three of Boston’s eight…Ortiz now owns a .436 batting average in 12 career World Series games with eight extra-base hits and 13 RBIs. The average is best all-time among players with as many as 50 plate appearances…Ortiz has made just three outs in the four games, one of which he was robbed of a grand slam by Beltran, who turned the out into a sac fly.

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