Looking ahead to World Series Game 3: Red Sox vs. Cardinals

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After the Cardinals and Red Sox split the first two games of the 2013 World Series, the scene shifts to St. Louis for Game 3 tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on FOX.

Here’s a quick look at the pitching matchup and some random notes:

The Red Sox juggled their rotation order for the World Series, including John Lackey moving up to Game 2 and Clay Buchholz being pushed back to Game 4, so Jake Peavy will get the call this evening. While the veteran right-hander tossed 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball during the ALDS against the Rays, he was yanked in the fourth inning during his start against the Tigers in the ALCS after giving up seven runs on five hits and three walks. The Red Sox will hope for better results in another road start tonight, especially with questions about Buchholz looming for Game 4.

Joe Kelly will make the start for the hosting Cardinals. After posting a 2.69 ERA in 15 starts and 22 relief appearances during the regular season, the 25-year-old right-hander has a 4.41 ERA and 13/6 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings over three starts this postseason. He made a pair of starts during the NLCS against the Dodgers and allowed four runs on seven hits (including a pair of home runs) over five innings in his most recent outing 10 days ago. The Red Sox have a knack for making pitchers work, but he’ll try to hang around a bit longer this time.

The Red Sox won’t have the luxury of the designated hitter under National League rules, so the composition of the lineup changes significantly. David Ortiz is the biggest threat in the lineup right now, so Red Sox manager John Farrell is expected to start him at first base. However, that means that Mike Napoli will be on the bench. The other big change has Daniel Nava back in left field over Jonny Gomes. He hasn’t started since Game 4 of the ALCS, but Farrell wants him to play the bigger outfield in St. Louis.

Allen Craig returned from his foot injury to serve as the designated hitter during the first two games of the series, but he’ll likely be limited to pinch-hitting duties for Game 3. While he took some ground balls at first base yesterday, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told Scott Miller of CBS Sports that it’s “unlikely” he’ll be ready to play in the field tonight. Carlos Beltran, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI single in Game 2, should be back in right field once again as he plays through a rib contusion. The only real uncertainty for the lineup is whether Pete Kozma or Daniel Descalso will get the start at shortstop.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.