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.
Even while injured, Miguel Cabrera is a force to be reckoned with. The 33-year-old slugger has been playing with a contusion on his knee since Wednesday, according to postgame comments made by Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus.
That didn’t stop him from whacking a 410-foot home run against Atlanta right-hander Matt Wisler on Friday night, skirting the center field fence to put the Tigers up 3-0 in the first inning. In the third, he lead off the inning with another long drive off of Wisler, targeting his changeup for a 421-foot shot, his 38th home run of the season:
It’s Cabrera’s sixth two-run homer game since the start of the season, and his first against the Braves since 2005. He needs just two more home runs to keep an even 40 on the year, which would return him to the kind of league-leading levels that accentuated his MVP case in 2012 and 2013. If he can do it by the end of this Tigers-Braves game (unlikely, but not unheard of), he’ll be the 15th major leaguer to hit four home runs in a single game.
The Reds will roll with manager Bryan Price for at least one more season. Per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, Price has been extended through the 2017 season with a club option for 2018. He won’t be the only familiar face leading the team, as the Reds have reportedly asked the entire coaching staff to return as well.
This is Price’s second consecutive season with 90+ losses since Cincinnati signed him to a three-year contract back in 2014. While he hasn’t been able to replicate the same kind of success that former skipper Dusty Baker found in 2012 and 2013, he’s been saddled with a team that’s still in the throes of rebuilding, not one that looks on the cusp of playoff contention. It is, after all, the same team that has not seen a healthy season from Homer Bailey since Price’s arrival, one that unloaded Jay Bruce for a pair of prospects earlier this year and one whose pitching staff set a single-season record for most home runs given up by a major league team.
Justifying Price’s extension requires a different kind of yardstick, one that measures player development and individual success over the cumulative win-loss record. Here, Price has overseen solid performances from contributors like Adam Duvall, who is batting .244/.297/.506 with 2.9 fWAR in his first full major-league season, as well as young arms like Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen, among others.
From comments made by Reds’ CFO Bob Castellini, Price’s success within a rough rebuilding process appears to have cemented his place within the club, at least for the time being.
I like the young, aggressive team Walt and Dick have put together with players from within our system and from recent trades. […] Bryan has been here seven seasons now. He’s comfortable with the direction we are heading with our young players, and we are comfortable with him leading us in that direction.