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.
The Cardinals went from winning 100 games last season to 82 entering Wednesday evening’s game, and they might not even make the playoffs. Still, the organization will bring back manager Mike Matheny for the 2017 season, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “Mike’s done a really good job for us. There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”
GM John Mozeliak also expressed his support, saying, “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”
Mozeliak continued, “I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”
Matheny has received criticism for his bullpen usage, but the Cardinals have only 15 blown saves as a team, the fourth-lowest total in baseball this season.
The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.
The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.
Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.
The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97. Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.
In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.