If the Cardinals win the 2013 World Series, they will have gone 3-1 at Fenway Park and 1-2 at Busch Stadium. Is there a script writer who could present that scenario to a Hollywood studio and not be laughed out of town? Playing before their passionate fans in Busch Stadium Monday night, the Cardinals were not up for the challenge in the battle of aces, losing 3-1 in Game 5 to give Boston two chances at home to clinch the title. Red Sox ace John Lester has allowed one run in 15-1/3 innings in the series and is 2-0. The Cardinals Adam Wainwright has a 4.50 ERA and is 0-2. To be fair, Wainwright was more effective in Game 5 than Game 1, even striking out seven of the first nine batters, and finishing with 10 Ks overall. But it was his aggressive, macho approach to all-world David Ortiz that doomed him. During a tense Dodgers-Giants pennant race in 2004, the Dodgers decided they were not going to let the man with the biggest bat beat them. In the last six games between the clubs, Barry Bonds had only 10 official bats, and was walked 14 times. The strategy worked, as the Dodgers edged the Giants to win the NL West. In this series, Ortiz is batting a ridiculous .733, going 11 for 15 with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs. Ortiz came up in the first inning with Dustin Pedroia on second after a double, but Wainwright went right after Ortiz. The result: a 1-0 deficit as Ortiz doubled. Afterward, Wainwright said, “That was my call before the game. I said I’m not pitching around Ortiz today.” My call? Shouldn’t manager Mike Matheny be the decision-maker on what has become one of the biggest keys in this World Series? Ortiz finished the night going 3 for 4. The Boston Red Sox turnaround from a ninth-place team in 1966 to a pennant winner in 1967 became known as the impossible dream. The Cardinals ended that dream by defeating them in seven games in the World Series. The business plan of stubbornly pitching to Ortiz, and the daunting task of dominating the Red Sox at Fenway in this World Series now appears to be an impossible dream for the Cardinals.
WORLD SERIES NOTES:
* Putting aside the Ortiz non-strategy, the Cardinals are dead if they can’t pick up the offense. St. Louis is batting .218 with 13 runs in five games. They struck out nine times in Game 5. Matt Carpenter, who they rely on as an offensive spark, is hitting .227. Of course, the Red Sox as a team aren’t doing any better, batting just .205. But, Ortiz’s bat makes a comparison of those statistics irrelevant as he hammers away at Cardinals pitching.
* Could a player on the losing side be named MVP of this World Series? Even if the Cardinals rally to win Games 6 and 7, they would need someone to break out to overtake Ortiz, especially if the Red Sox DH continues to put up such gaudy numbers. Maybe someone like a Matt Holliday could hit three homers in two days to grab the headlines away from Ortiz and give MVP voters a Cardinal option. Ortiz could face one other threat from within even if the Red Sox win if his bat cooled and Lester pitched and won Game 7.
* Harry Connick Jr., a veteran singer of the national anthem on the big stage, didn’t disappoint with his Game 5 performance. My distinguished panel of judges will officially determine the winner in the Star Spangled Banner Star Search Reality Show, but I can only imagine how fellow contestants Mary Blige, James Taylor, Colbie Collait and Rascal Flatts are feeling after hearing Connick’s smooth delivery.
* Red Sox fans have been waiting quite a while to watch their team win a World Series at Fenway Park. In fact, the date was Sept. 11, 1918, as the Red Sox defeated the Chicago Cubs 2-1 in Game 7 before the home crowd. The season had been cut short at about 130 games as the country turned its attention to getting ready for war, resulting in the early September series schedule. Weak hitting also was part of the 1918 series. The Red Sox were outscored 10 to 9, and batted just .186 to the Cubs .210. Babe Ruth starred for the Red Sox, winning Games 1 and 4 as he threw 16 consecutive scoreless innings until the Cubs finally got to him for two runs in the eighth inning of his second outing. Ruth, primarily a pitcher at this point, helped his own cause with an RBI triple in a 3-2 win in Game 4. Maybe they should have walked him.