The Red Sox are breathing a lot easier after last night’s win. Before that they had to be feeling a bit snakebit. Part of that was the interference call, which, while obvious to some, was confusing to many and which put the Cardinals up 2-1. Now with the series tied and reduced to a best of three the Red Sox are feeling a lot better.
Perhaps more importantly they know the Series, one way or the other, will finish in Boston, and that at least the final game will be in their home park and away from the National League style of baseball. It means the Sox will get to have both Mike Napoli and David Ortiz in the lineup and won’t have to deal with Ortiz’s defensive shortcomings.
The biggest of those was the unexpected double steal in Game 2 that set things in order for the Cardinals to rally and win the game, erasing the lead that David Ortiz’s home run had given them. It was a move that pretty much blindsided the Red Sox. After all the Redbirds had a grand total of 44 steals during the regular season. While it’s not likely to surprise the Sox again it was a move that would have made any general proud.
If Cards manager Mike Matheny has any other tricks up his sleeve he’s probably far more able to pull them off in the more familiar National League style of the game. And no doubt he’ll try to use those things tonight provided Adam Wainwright is able to look more like Wainwright and less like the batting practice pitcher he seemed to be in Fenway park.
It’s something his counterpart John Farrell had best be considering, especially since we don’t know if Farrell has any tricks of his own or just the speed and sledgehammer of his offense to rely on.
For the Red Sox tonight isn’t just Game 5 but a must-win game. While losing tonight won’t doom them, the only pitcher on the Cardinals' staff to pretty much baffle them has been Michael Wacha, and they know well he’s on deck for Game 6. That makes beating Wainwright tonight almost imperative.
Barring the Sox batters having their way with Wainwright again, Farrell needs to step up and show more of his baseball acumen. He’ll need to anticipate any surprises that his counterpart has to offer and maybe pull off one or two of his own.
It’s possible that he won’t have to do anything tonight and that the Sox offense will carry the day from early on. But if push comes to shove and the game is close, Farrell could be just the edge that the Boston nine need. If he gets outmanaged or the Sox get out coached, - that, and not the interference call of Game 3, could really be the story of this World Series.
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