Sunday, October 27, 2013

World Series, Game Three: St. Louis 5, Boston 4 (St. Louis leads 2-1)

This game was going to hurt no matter who lost it.  The Cardinals would have been devastated to lose a game where they had blown two different two-run leads, and where they had left so many runners on base.  The Red Sox would have been devastated to lose a game in which they had fought so hard and battled so well against St. Louis's bullpen.  And that's not even counting the agony of falling behind 2-1 in a Series where you only need four wins for victory.  By the time the ninth inning began, it was clear that this was a game that fans in Boston and St. Louis would remember for a long time.

But if the game was going to be painful for the loser no matter what, the specific facts of this ending will be excruciating for Red Sox fans.  If they fail to win this Series, the fact that they lost Games Two and Three on bad throws to third base will be remembered for a long, long time.  Also it will not take the folks in New England very long to realize that their Champions made some very odd decisions in the ninth inning.

First, they let Brandon Workman bat for himself in the top of the inning, leaving Mike Napoli on the bench.  This would make sense if Workman was in the game for a long time, but then the Red Sox pulled Workman as soon as Molina got a one-out single in the ninth.

Second, after Allen Craig hits a double to put runners on second and third with one out, Boston closer Koji Uehara threw to Jon Jay instead of walking Jay to set up a potential inning-ending double play.

Third, after Jay slapped a grounder to Pedroia, and he threw Molina out at the plate, Saltalamacchia tried to throw out Craig at third.  In my opinion, this throw never should have been made.  There are two outs, and Uehara is a great pitcher.  It is extremely unlikely that Uehara will throw the ball away, or that Pete Kozma will get a two-out game-winning hit off of Uehara.  If Saltalamacchia simply holds the ball, it is almost certain that Uehara will retire Kozma and the game will go into the 10th.  The Cardinals had already used their best relievers, so they would have been at a disadvantage.  Instead, for the second game in a row, Boston loses the game because of a bad throw to third base.

All of these mistakes were made before Will Middlebrooks, Boston's back-up third baseman, failed to catch Saltalamacchia's bad throw, and then appeared to lift his legs in an effort to block Crag's progress home.  For the second game in a row, the Cardinals were able to put Boston in a situation where the Red Sox were making decisions more quickly than they were used to -- and for the second game in a row, the Red Sox were killed by their bad decisions.

This Series got off to a clunky start in Game One, where the Cardinals simply appeared to be out of their depth.  But the last two games have been as hard-fought and as entertaining as almost any World Series games I can remember.  Now that the influence of steroids has been greatly reduced, we can see the enormous array of young talent that has poured into the game in recent years, and the depth of talent in good organizations like St. Louis and Boston.  I can hardly wait for Game Four.


  1. In the first inning of Game Four, both teams go down 1-2-3 in the first.

  2. In the bottom of the third, Matt Carpenter hits a one-out single and advances to second when Jacoby Ellsbury bobbles the ball in center field. Carlos Beltran then singles Carpenter home.

    After 3: St. Louis 1, Boston 0

    The Cardinals now have a 63 percent chance of victory.

  3. The Cardinals cannot retire David Ortiz. He has killed them in this Series, and he leads off the top of the fifth with a double to the wall in right center.

  4. In an 11-pitch at-bat, Jonny Gomes draws a walk. So the BoSox now have men on first and second with no one out.

  5. And now Lance Lynn has walked Xander Bogaerts. The bases are loaded with no outs.

    Unfortunately for Boston, Stephen Drew is due up next -- and he is batting less than .100 in the post-season. On ESPN Radio, Dan Schulman thinks the Red Sox should pinch hit with Mike Napoli right now. But Hershiser isn't convinced.

  6. Drew flies out to left, and Ortiz (barely) beats the throw home. We are tied 1-1.

    Boston still has runners on first and second with one out.

  7. Now Lynn has gotten himself into a 3-2 count on David Ross, the number 8 hitter. But he bears down and strikes out Ross. Two out.

    The Red Sox send up Mike Carp to bat for Buchholz. He hits the first pitch to Adams at first and the inning is over.

    After 4 1/2: St. Louis 1, Boston 1

  8. When the Red Sox had the bases loaded and no out, they had a 60 percent chance of victory. Now they only have a 44 percent chance of victory.

  9. In the bottom of the 5th, the Red Sox bring in Felix Doubront to replace Buchholz.

    There was a lot of commentary about how Buchholz was suffering from a dead arm. And he struggled to break 90 mph on any of his pitches. But he gave Boston four solid innings.

  10. Doubront easily sets down the top of the Cardinals order 1-2-3.

    After 5: St. Louis 1, Boston 1

    Cardinals have a 50 percent chance of victory.

  11. With two out in the top of the 6th, Pedroia laces a single to left. That brings up Ortiz. Dan Schulman thinks the Cardinals should pull Lynn, but they let him pitch:

    Lynn v. Ortiz (one on, two out):

    Pitch 1 (0-0); Ball
    Pitch 2 (1-0): Ball
    Pitch 3 (2-0): Ball
    Pitch 4 (3-0): Ball

    So the Cardinals walk Ortiz, thus putting Pedroia in scoring position. But now the Cardinals can get out of the inning by retiring Gomes.

  12. And that's all for Lynn. He is pulled and replaced by Seth Maness, who will face Gomes.

    Maness v. Gomes (men on 1st and 2d, two out):

    Pitch 1 (0-0): Ball low
    Pitch 2 (1-0): Called strike
    Pitch 3 (1-1): Ball low
    Pitch 4 (2-1): Foul (And all the folks at Busch are waving towels)
    Pitch 5 (2-2): GOMES CRUSHES A THREE-RUN HOMER OVER THE LEFT FIELD WALL -- the first homer we've seen since the Series arrived in St. Louis.

    Boston takes a 4-1 lead!

  13. That's one for the Moneyballers -- Boston finally gets the big three-run homer.

    After 5 1/2: Boston 4, St. Louis 1

    Boston now has an 86 percent chance of victory.

  14. St. Louis will really regret not jumping all over Buchholz when they had the chance. Of course, they will also regret that Maness let that ball get up to Gomes.

  15. Doubront retires the Cardinals 1-2-3 in the 6th. It has gotten very quiet in St. Louis.

  16. After 6: Boston 4, St. Louis 1

    Now the Red Sox have a 90 percent chance of victory.

  17. In the top of the 7th, Maness retires Ross and Doubront (who bats for himself). And then Maness is replaced by Randy Choate, who induces Ellsbury to fly out to right and end the inning. Boston still leads 4-1.

  18. With two outs in the bottom of the 7th, Shane Robinson pinch-hits for the pitcher and laces a double into left field.

    That's all for Doubront, who pitched very well. The Red Sox are bringing in Craig Breslow to face Matt Carpenter. Breslow was not very effective in Game Two or Game Three.

  19. The guys on ESPN Radio would have let Doubront face Carpenter. But it's Breslow instead.

    Breslow v. Carpenter (man on first, two outs):

    Pitch 1 (0-0): Called strike
    Pitch 2 (0-1): Ball low
    Pitch 3 (1-1): Ball low
    Pitch 4 (2-1): Carpenter laces a single to right, and Robinson comes racing home from second.

    Boston 4, St. Louis 2

    Hershiser says that articles will be written about Boston's decision to pull Doubront.

  20. The Red Sox leave in Breslow to pitch to Beltran:

    Pitch 1 (0-0): Ball
    Pitch 2 (1-0): Ball (Ross goes out to talk to Breslow)
    Pitch 3 (2-0): Ball outside
    Pitch 4 (3-0): Ball low

    None of those were close, and that's all for Breslow. Dan Schulman says "for the third outing in a row, Breslow fails to deliver."

    1. Ouch. I hope the Breslow family had the TV audio turned up.

  21. OK, so the Red Sox are bringing in Junichi Tazawa to face Matt Holliday with two outs and runners on first and second.

    Tazawa v. Holliday:

    Pitch 1 (0-0): Called strike
    Pitch 2 (0-1): Holliday grounds out to Pedroia and the inning is over.

    After 7: Boston 4, St. Louis 2

    The Red Sox have an 88 percent chance of victory.

  22. In the top of the 8th, Kevin Siegrist retired the first two Red Sox batters, but then David Ortiz (naturally) laced a single into center. He is 3-3 in this game, and 8-11 in the Series. He has been amazing.

  23. The Red Sox pull Ortiz for a pinch-runner, and the Cardinals bring in John Axford to pitch to Jonny Gomes.

  24. Axford walked Gomes, but then struck out Bogaerts to end the inning.

    After 7 1/2: Boston 4, St. Louis 2

  25. In a bold move, the Red Sox bring in a starter -- John Lackey -- to pitch the 8th inning. Mike Napoli takes over at 1st.

  26. With one out, Molina raps a hard-hit ball to third. Bogaerts scoops it up, but throws it away. Molina trots down to second on a two base error.

    And then Lackey throws a WILD PITCH to John Jay, and Molina goes to third.

  27. But Jay, needing only a fly to score Molina, pops up to short.

    And then Lackey gets Freese to ground out to short, and the inning is over.

    Very good appearance from Lackey, pitching in an odd spot for him.

    Freese can't hit at all, by the way. He is really hurting St. Louis.

    After 8: Boston 4, St. Louis 2

    Red Sox have a 93 percent chance of victory.

  28. Axford retires the Red Sox 1-2-3 in the ninth, so it is still 4-2 as the Cardinals are down to their last at-bats.

    The Cards will send up Descalso, a pinch hitter (probably Allan Craig), and Matt Carpenter.

    Boston is bringing in its closer, Koji Uehara.

    The Red Sox have a 92 percent chance of victory.

  29. So here's what happened:

    Descalso grounded out to second (1 out)

    Craig, who can barely walk, crushed a ball to the right field wall, which would normally be a double, or even a triple, but Craig could only hobble to first.

    The Cardinals sent in Kolten Wong to pinch-run for Craig.

    Matt Carpenter took a big swing, didn't make the contact he wanted, and popped up to short (two out).

    So now it's up to Carlos Beltran. He takes a ball and a strike. The crowd is going nuts. BUT SUDDENLY UEHARA THROWS OVER TO FIRST, AND WONG IS PICKED OFF! THE GAME IS OVER! BOSTON WINS, AND BELTRAN NEVER GETS A CHANCE TO SWING HIS BAT.

  30. These have been three of the most interesting games I've ever seen.

    1. Crazy how much baserunning has come so obviously to bear.