David Ortiz had one mammoth hit in the ALCS — a game-tying grand slam off Joaquin Benoit in Game 2 — but he finished just 2-for-22 for the series. Apart from the slam, he hadn’t driven in any runs in seven games.
His Game 1 of the World Series shouldn’t have started any better. With two on in the top of the first, he hit a double-play ball, only to have Matt Carpenter and Pete Kozma botch it, resulting in first one and then no outs after a John Farrell argument.
After that, it was bombs away. In the second, Ortiz hit what would have been his second grand slam in the postseason, but a lunging Carlos Beltran turned it into a sac fly, injuring himself in the process. In the fourth, he lined a single into center. And in the seventh, he got that homer, the first ever given up to a left-hander by Cardinals rookie reliever Kevin Siegrist. Left-handers hit .118 and slugged .127 against Siegrist in the regular season.
Obviously, it couldn’t have come at a better time for Boston, which went on to win 8-1. But it doesn’t make things a whole lot easier on manager John Farrell. He’s going to have to bench either Ortiz or Mike Napoli when the series shifts to Busch Stadium for Game 3. Napoli, like Ortiz, had a three-RBI game tonight, getting the scoring started with a bases-loaded double in the first. He was the Red Sox’s best hitter in the ALCS, going 6-for-20 with two homers and two doubles.
With the Cardinals throwing all right-handers, there’s no obvious play on how to share first base between Ortiz and Napoli in St. Louis. It’s expected that one will start Game 3, the other Game 4. We might not know until after Game 4 who will start Game 5, assuming there is a Game 5.
The big game tonight makes Ortiz 11-for-31 with two homers and 11 RBI in nine career World Series games. He still hasn’t lost one; the Red Sox are 9-0 in their last three World Series appearances.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.
Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).
Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.
Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.
Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.