Monday night’s Game 5 of the World Series was everything it was expected to be, a classic pitcher’s duel. The Cardinals sent Adam Wainwright to the mound opposite of the Red Sox’ Jon Lester in a rematch of Game 1.
The difference between Wainwright and Lester was that while both put zeros on the board, Wainwright had to work around traffic while Lester didn’t. In the end, that traffic hurt Wainwright as the Cards fell 3-1 and are now one loss away from losing the World Series to Boston for the second time in nine years.
“Any run you can squeeze across is huge right now,” Wainwright said. “You have two quality teams and tough pitchers on both sides going out there and battling. So, if you can get a run, you can get an advantage. It was a game of inches tonight. The Boston Red Sox played a good game today and their pitcher Jon Lester pitched a great game.”
Following a disastrous Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday in Boston, Game 5 start was much better for Wainwright. However, it still wasn’t what the Cardinals’ ace wanted.
Wainwright threw 21 pitches and struck out the side. All three punch outs were caught looking. However, between the first and second strikeout, Wainwright gave up back-to-back doubles to Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.
“We’re going to make tough pitches,” Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny said. “Sometimes we get more at the plate than what we’re looking to get. Sometimes they go out of the zone to get it. Right there, it was the idea of making it tough. Unfortunately (Ortiz) found the spot.”
When asked why he didn’t walk Ortiz with first base open, Wainwright was honest in his answer.
“I don’t like walking anybody,” Wainwright said. “They have a guy on second already in the first inning and he hit a good pitch. He is out of his mind hot right now. That was my call before the game. I said I was going to get him out and he hit a good pitch and made a good swing.”
In the top of the second, Wainwright struck out the side to give him six punch outs and five consecutive batters retired via strikeout.
With one out, Matt Holliday tied the game a 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth when he crushed a 1-0 offering from Jon Lester to center field. The sold out crowd of 47,436 erupted in cheers as soon as Holliday made contact. The home run was Holliday’s second of the series.
Carlos Beltran almost gave the Cardinals a lead when he sent a drive to the wall, but Jonny Gomes came up with the catch. Yadier Molina became the third out when Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew made a leaping catch to rob the Cardinals of a base hit.
The Cardinals’ starting pitcher calmed down after the first inning. At one point he retired eight straight batters before surrendering a leadoff single to Ortiz in the fourth. This time Ortiz’s hit did no damage and the Red Sox slugger was retired two batters later on a double play.
When Wainwright struck out Daniel Nava in the seventh, he became the first Cardinals’ pitcher to have 10 strike outs in a World Series game since 1968. However, the rest of the inning was not as good to Wainwright.
A single by Xander Bogaerts and a walk to Drew put two runners on with one out.
“Walking Drew there, that really hurt,” Wainwright said. “That set everything in motion. I like to attack better there, but I just didn’t make it happen.”
David Ross then hit a ground rule double down the left field line that bounced into the stands to score Bogaerts and break the tie. After Lester struck out on a bunt attempt, Jacoby Ellsbury singled to score Drew. Ross tried to score as well, but was thrown out at the plate on a perfect throw from Shane Robinson in center to end the inning.
“It was 1-1 there in the seventh,” Wainwright said. “You tip your hat to (David) Ross, he hit a double to take the lead.”
Ross was excited to know his hit was the game winner.
“The game-winning hit, that’s nice,” Ross said. “Adam Wainwright is one of the best pitchers in baseball.”
After giving up the lead in the top of the seventh, Wainwright’s night was over. He finished the game the way he started it, throwing 21 pitches and allowing the Red Sox to score.
For the night, Wainwright had 10 strikeouts and one walk while giving up eight hits over seven innings of work. Wainwright threw a total of 107 pitches.
“I was confident I was going to go out and pitch a good game,” Wainwright said. “To be honest with you, I executed my plan all night long until right there at the end of the seventh inning.”
Rookie pitchers Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal shut down Boston in the eighth and ninth. Rosenthal finished the game the way Wainwright started it, by striking out the side. With Martinez’s one strike out in the eighth, the Cardinals pitching punched out 14 total Red Sox batters.
Lester on the other hand was masterful. He scattered four hits over 7.2 innings of work. Lester struck out seven while throwing 90 pitches.
Koji Uehara closed out the Boston win with a four-out save, striking out two of the four batters he faced.
After stranding 19 runners over the course of Games 3 and 4, the Cardinals couldn’t buy a runner for most of Game 5. The Redbirds had just four hits, one of which was a solo home run. The others were a double and two were singles.
“It was really good pitching,” Holliday said. “When you get to the World Series, the reason both teams are here is because both teams have really good pitching. We hit some balls hard right at people, they just didn’t fall.”
David Freese had a single and a double while Beltran had the other single. Beltran was doubled up in the second inning while Freese was left stranded at second base in the third and the eighth.
After Pete Kozma sacrificed Freese to second in the third, Wainwright and Matt Carpenter both struck out. In the eighth, Freese had a one-out double but Kozma flied out and Matt Adams struck out to end the inning.
“Once again, with a left-hander on the mound, we only have a backup catcher as a right-handed bat,” Matheny said. “Pete (Kozma), also, even though it’s been a tough offensive season for him, he’s also been able to get some big hits for us at times and drop something in there. We needed for him to come up big for us, but it didn’t happen today.”
The series now shifts to Boston where the Cardinals will need to win twice to claim their 12th world championship. Michael Wacha will try to keep the Redbirds’ season alive on Wednesday night.
“I think it starts with a mentality that it’s a great challenge,” Matheny said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to go in and prove the kind of team we are as far as how we are mentally and I think that’s where it begins. We’ve got to have Michael (Wacha) come out and throw a big game.”