In one of the wildest World Series in recent memory, the Boston Red Sox have taken a 3-games-to-2 lead as the series shifts back to Fenway Park.
It’ll be Michael Wacha against John Lackey in Game 6 as the Cardinals look to play another day. Should St. Louis win on Wednesday, they’d play again in Game 7 on Thursday night, Halloween. It’d be a fitting ending to a crazy series.
The Cardinals won Game 4 on an obstruction call, the first time a World Series game ever ended on such a call.
The next night, the Red Sox capped a Game 5 victory by picking off rookie Kolten Wong at first base, leaving Carlos Beltran in the batter’s box. The Cardinals faced a 2-run deficit at the time.
Let’s take a quick statistical look at a couple of key players for Game 6.
Boston’s David Ortiz has been a beast in this series. He’s hitting .733 (11-for-14) with five runs scored, six driven in, two home runs, two doubles and four walks. His World Series OPS? A cool 2.017.
How is Ortiz doing it?
Here is Ortiz’s pitch outcome chart through the first five games of the World Series, via the invaluable BrooksBaseball.net.
Ortiz has put more balls in play (BIP) against all pitches he’s seen than he’s done anything else with, as evidenced by his batting average. Cardinals pitchers are trying to throw him fastballs, but they’ve only landed 9.5 percent of those for called strikes. Ortiz is simply turning fastballs in the strikezone into hits.
It’s a ridiculously small sample size, but it’s probably time the Cardinals start giving Ortiz something other than fastballs. Honestly, it’s probably worth giving him the Barry Bonds treatment and not throw anything even remotely close to the strike zone to begin with.
David Ortiz pitch outcome chart, Oct. 23-Oct. 28 2013. (Via BrooksBaseball.net)
That doesn’t exactly bode well for St. Louis’ Game 6 starter, Michael Wacha.
Wacha has had a tremendous October for the Cardinals. Really, it’s been one of the great rookie postseason performances of all time.
But Wacha doesn’t have a big arsenal with which to take on Ortiz. He’s a primarily fastball pitcher who mixes in a deadly change-up and an occasional curveball.
Against lefties, Wacha hardly uses the curveball at all. Since it’s bending in against lefties, it’s a poor pitch to use.
He likes using the change against lefties, but mostly when he’s ahead – which is a rare occurrence against Ortiz these days. Wacha has gone increasingly to the change over the course of the playoffs. He’s thrown 17-30-23-39 in four playoff starts against the Pirates-Dodgers-Dodgers-Red Sox.
Michael Wacha pitch usage, Oct. 2013. (via BrooksBaseball.net)
There will probably be some wacky thing going on Wednesday night, the way this series has gone. But one thing to watch will be Wacha’s use of the change-up against Ortiz. Can he mix in a 87-ish change with his 95 fastball to get some swings and misses? Or will Wacha fall behind and have to throw Ortiz some of that cheese in the strikezone?
The annual Gold Glove awards were announced tonight, with few surprises.
Among New York players, Robinson Cano, David Wright and Juan Lagares all had strong cases at their respective positions, but I can see why each lost out.
Pedroia isn’t as flashy as Cano, but he makes a ton of tough plays at second. Just look at the final play of Game 4 in the World Series. Playing in on the grass, Pedrioa makes a diving stop to his right and threw from his knees to get the runner at the plate. Why Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw to third base to set up the obstruction call is another question…
Wright only made nine errors at third base, but he also only played in 111 games in the field, which certainly hurt his case. Arenado led the NL in defensive wins above replacement, by far, adding 3.6 wins with his glove alone.
Lagares had a terrific year with his arm, making an NL CF-best 14 outfield assists, but Gomez had a truly spectacular year, robbing a whole bunch of would-be home runs. Does name recognition and hitting ability have something to do with it, too? It shouldn’t, but I’m sure it does and that tips the scale to Gomez.
P, R.A. Dickey, Toronto
C, Salvador Perez, Kansas City
1B, Eric Hosmer, Kansas City
2B, Dustin Pedroia, Boston
3B, Manny Machado, Baltimore
SS, J.J. Hardy, Baltimore
LF, Alex Gordon, Kansas City
CF, Adam Jones, Baltimore
RF, Shane Victorino, Boston
P, Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
C, Yadier Molina, St. Louis
1B, Paul Goldschmidt, Ariona
2B, Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati
3B, Nolan Arenado, Colorado
SS, Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta
LF, Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
CF, Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee
RF, Gerardo Parra, Arizona