ST. LOUIS – Breaking down the World Series Game 3 at Busch Stadium.
Cardinals 5, Red Sox 4: Cardinals lead series 2-1.
State of the Series: The two teams go back at it again on Sunday night in Game 4 after a nail-biting start to the three games using National League rules. Since MLB went to the division format in 1969, the team that won Game 3 to go up 2-1 has ended up winning the World Series 16 of 18 times.
The Red Sox have tentatively scheduled Clay Buchholz to be their starting pitcher, but he has been battling shoulder soreness and his status is still up in the air. If Buchholz can't go, Ryan Dempster could be pressed into service since left-hander Felix Doubront was used in relief in Game 3. Buchholz was 12-1 with a 1.91 ERA during thre regular season, but has a 5.40 ERA and hasn't figured in the decision in his three starts this postseason.
The Cardinals will send right-hander Lance Lynn to the mound. Lynn went 15-10 during the regular season with a 3.97 ERA. He picked up a win in relief against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series, then started and won Game 4 in his last appearance. In this year's playoffs, Lynn is 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA.
Man of the moment: The Cardinals leading RBI man, Allen Craig, came through in the clutch in the bottom of the ninth.
Craig got the key hit as a pinch-hitter to keep the rally alive against closer Koji Uehara and ended up scoring the winning run when he was called safe on third baseman Will Middlebrooks' interference.
Craig made the break to third base on an infield grounder that allowed the Red Sox to nail Yadier Molina at the plate. When the throw from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia went over the head of third baseman Will Middlebrooks, Craig got tangled up with Middlebrooks and was awarded home on the interference call – even though the throw beat him.
Game 3 pivot point: Cardinals manager Mike Matheny called on his closer Trevor Rosenthal to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the eighth. Carlos Martinez, who was so effective in his two-inning stint in Game 2, allowed a single and a hit batter to begin the frame.
After a Dustin Pedroia groundout and an intentional walk to David Ortiz, Rosenthal got Daniel Nava to hit a soft grounder to second. Second baseman Kolten Wong got the forceout at second, but Nava kept the inning alive when he beat the relay throw to first.
That brought rookie Xander Bogaerts to the plate. On a 99 mph fastball from Rosenthal, Bogaerts grounded one up the middle that shortstop Pete Kozma could barely get a glove on. The base hit to center plated the tying run and brought the Red Sox all the way back to tie.
Needing a mulligan: Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo might be rethinking his decision to put up a stop sign in the third inning. The Cardinals had runners on first and second with no one out when Jon Jay singled to center. It looked like the Red Sox were going to allow the runner, Yadier Molina, to score from second without a throw. But Oquendo chose to hold him there.
With light-hitting Pete Kozma and pitcher Joe Kelly up next, it turned out to be a decision he'd like to have back. Kozma struck out, Kelly popped up and leadoff man Matt Carpenter popped out for the third out of the inning.
The Cardinals led at the time 2-0 and another run would have been a nice luxury at that point in the game.
Manager's Special: With the game tied in the top of the ninth, Red Sox manager John Farrell made the most curious decision of the game. After pinch-hitting for his pitcher in both the fifth and the seventh innings, Farrell chose to let Brandon Workman hit in the top of the ninth with the score tied.
Predictably, Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal struck out Workman as he retired the side in order. Mike Napoli was the obvious choice since he has home run power to put the Red Sox ahead with one swing of the bat. He didn't start the game with David Ortiz playing first base. But Farrell was hesitant to burn Napoli and be forced to either take out Ortiz or only use Napoli for the one at-bat with two outs.
The only other possible pinch-hitters Farrell had at his disposal were backup catcher David Ross and pinch-running specialist Quentin Berry.
Plus, going to a pinch-hitter would mean Farrell would have to change pitchers to start the ninth. He did eventually go to closer Koji Uehara in the bottom of the ninth anyway when Yadier Molina singled with one out.