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.

Kevin Kiermaier on Rays’ recent moves: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset.”

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On Sunday, we heard from former Ray and current Giants third baseman Evan Longoria. The Rays recently traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect and designated All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, which didn’t make a whole lot of sense outside of a cost-cutting perspective. Longoria said, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

Today, we’re hearing from a current Ray: center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is set to enter his fifth full season with the club. Via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Kiermaier said, “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still it’s just like, okay, well, so be it.”

Longoria — formerly the face of the franchise — was traded to the Giants in December and the Rays continued to subtract with their recent moves involving Odorizzi and Dickerson. Odorizzi has a career 3.83 ERA in what has been a solid, if unspectacular, career. Dickerson put up an All-Star season, posting an .815 OPS with 27 home runs in 150 games. Moving either player was not done to fix a positional log jam. In fact, with Odorizzi out of the picture, the Rays are planning to use a four-man starting rotation for the first six-plus weeks of the season, Topkin reported on Sunday. Dickerson’s ouster simply opens the door for Mallex Smith, who posted a .684 OPS last year, to start every day in the outfield.

The Rays got markedly worse after going 80-82 last season. They saved a few million bucks jettisoning Odorizzi and Dickerson. And Rays ownership still wants the public to foot most of the bill for their new stadium.

When it was just one small market team pinching pennies, it was fine. But now that more than half of the league has adopted penny-pinching principles popularized by Moneyball and Sabermetrics (with the Rays among the chief offenders), the game of baseball has become markedly less fan- and player-friendly. This offseason has been less about players signing contracts and changing teams in trades — which helps build excitement and intrigue for the coming year — and more about front offices doing math problems concerning the $197 million competitive balance tax threshold and other self-imposed monetary restraints. Fun. Kiermaier is right to be upset and he’s very likely not alone in feeling that way.