–First off, why are the Cardinals still pitching to David Ortiz? Second, why are the Cardinals still pitching to David Ortiz? Third, why are the Cardinals still pitching to David Ortiz?
–Seriously, even with talented hitters behind him, there’s no reason to pitch to him. But Jonny Gomes? Yes, he got the big hit in Game 4, but is Mike Matheny truly scared of Gomes replicating his feat of strength from Sunday night? He should have put Ortiz on every time and faced Gomes.
–Anyone notice how John Farrell manages Jon Lester much differently than any of his other pitchers? Granted, Lester has proven this postseason that he is better than the rest of the Boston pitchers. But Farrell’s leash with Lester is considerably longer than it is with any other starter. You see John Lackey get into the sixth or seventh inning, he’s out as soon as he yields a base runner, regardless of pitch count. Felix Doubront was cruising through Games 3 & 4 but got pulled prematurely. Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz get the hook as soon as they give up base runners in the fourth inning. Farrell’s always had a soft spot for Lester, and my hope is that he learns to let the rest of his rotation, Lackey in particular, breathe. It’s the World Series and no manager wants to be the next Grady Little, but maybe Farrell will heed Lackey’s protestations if the big righty is dealing.
–Finally, a game with no errors. Stephen Drew continued his stellar defense, Xander Bogaerts had a nice play, Lester made a nifty toss to first, and Pedroia did what he does. Lester put his defense in position to succeed, and they rewarded him.
–While unable to register a hit, Drew’s redemption has come in the form of his steady defense, and tonight, his huge walk in the seventh. And he even hit a ball to the warning track early on. As far as he goes, it’s an automatic out until proven otherwise, which has set expectations so low that any hit will feel like Christmas morning. Also, his nickname is “Dirt.” To hell with the defense, the fact that he’s known as “Dirt” is enough to earn my adoration.
–Jacoby Ellsbury was quietly having an awful World Series until his huge RBI in the seventh inning tonight. You could hear Scott Boras shrieking after each Ellsbury at-bat. At times it appeared that Ellsbury wasn’t even looking at the ball as he swung. Just know that as New England took a sigh of relief after the base hit, so did Boras. Still, given his play this week, Ellsbury has to have cost himself a couple million per year, and the fact that he’s already 30 years old doesn’t help.
–The second best hitter on the Red Sox this series? Xander Bogaerts. That’s what the stats and the eye test say. Great at-bats. He hits. He walks. Other than Ortiz and Pedroia, no guy has been more comfortable at the plate on a nightly basis.
–Ortiz has been the lightning rod for the series. Regardless of who wins the series, he’s a heavy favorite for MVP at this point. But Jon Lester is a damn close second. Again, it’s still early, but man, Lester proved every bit of his worth tonight. I’ve had a good time calling him “Fraud” Lester for a few years now. Since 2010, he’s been on and off, a couple quality starts here, a couple stinkers there, and rarely ever throwing back-to-back gems. It just seemed that for over two years, every third start from Lester would be something like 5IP, 8H, 5ER, 4K, 3BB, 95 pitches. After getting his career back on track in the regular season, he took it to another level this postseason. He’s been the best Boston pitcher, by far, this postseason. His two performances in the World Series have been nothing short of dominant, as he’s made St. Louis hitters look foolish for extended stretches. Call it a legacy, a reputation, whatever you want. Whatever it is, Lester cemented his tonight as a big game pitcher. He showed, after a few years of mediocre outings and month-long lapses in focus, that he’s a stud and fired strike after strike after strike with razor-sharp precision. This series belongs to David Ortiz, but tonight, and the postseason on the whole, belongs to Jon Lester.