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Jon Lester’s mastery, efficiency carry Red Sox to edge of glory, push Cardinals to brink

Oct 28, 2013, 11:08 PM EDT

ST. LOUIS — We thought of Game 1 as a battle of aces. It didn’t turn out that way. Game 5, however, gave us what we had been expecting. Adam Wainwright vs. Jon Lester and this time they were both on their game. But Jon Lester was better than Wainwright and, just as importantly, was more efficient than his Cardinals counterpart. As a result the Red Sox beat the Cards 3-1 and now take a 3-2 series lead with them back to Boston with two shots at clinching their eighth World Series title.

Early on it didn’t look like Wainwright had made those post-Game 1 adjustments he had been talking about on Sunday. At least not against David Ortiz, who continues to carry the Sox on his back offensively. After allowing a one-out double to Dustin Pedroia, Wainwright inexplicably threw fastballs to Ortiz despite the fact such beasts had been murdered by this beast all series long. A hard double to right made it 1-0 and one would be forgiven if one thought that Wainwright’s night was destined to be a short one.

But then he settled down, retiring the next eight batters he faced. Ortiz singled off of him again in the fourth but nothing came of it. In the fifth two singles put runners on first and second before Wainwright bore down and struck out Lester — who looked helpless trying to bunt and has yet to get a major league hit in over 30 plate appearances — and sat down Jacoby Ellsbury as well.  In the sixth Wainwright even retired Ortiz. It was the first time anyone had done so since early in Game 3. Through six Wainwright had struck out nine while scattering five hits.

Lester matched him frame for frame through six, striking out seven and needing only 69 pitches to do it. He was hit harder at times — his big mistake was allowing a 423-foot homer to Matt Holliday in the fourth — but the Cardinals, as has so often been the case this past week, were unable to string anything together. It left Lester in a position to stay in the game longer than any pitcher had so far in this series.

Wainwright had to work harder to get to the seventh and it was in the seventh where we finally saw the toll of his evening and, in all likelihood, the toll of his long season finally paid. After notching his tenth and final strikeout of the night, Wainwright gave up a single to Xander Bogaerts and walked the heretofore harmless Stephen Drew. A David Ross ground rule double plated Bogaerts and — because he had only thrown those 69 pitches through six — John Farrelll let Lester hit for himself. That didn’t work out — Lester bounced back to the pitcher — but Jacoby Ellsbury singled in Drew. David Ross was sent home as well, but he was nailed at the plate. Maybe. He was called out, though, ending the inning with the Sox up 3-1.

Letting Lester hit for himself bought John Farrell an inning and two thirds of his starter’s time, helping preserve a bullpen that was on fumes and likely without the services of Felix Doubront, who had pitched the previous two nights. As it was, Lester would retire the Cards in order in the seventh and get two outs in the eighth before being lifted for Koji Uehara who sealed the four-out save.

It was a masterful and powerful performance for Jon Lester, who allowed only four hits while not walking a batter in seven and two-thirds. More importantly, he powered his team to victory and on to Boston, where the Red Sox can pop champagne corks as soon as this time Wednesday night.

  1. aceshigh11 - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:13 PM

    God, Lester has been SO brilliant.

    Thank you!

    • nbjays - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:28 PM

      YOU made him brilliant? Bully for you! :-)

      • aceshigh11 - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:43 AM

        Are you calling me god? I’m sooo confused…ha.

  2. happytwinsfan - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    i don’t really care who wins the series, but in the hopes of it including an all or nothing seventh game, i was preferring that the cards go to boston up 3-2. i considered that the most statistically likely outcome was the bosox in six. hope i’m wrong.

    • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:18 PM

      Thats the first thing you’ve ever said that didn’t have some blatant racism randomly thrown in. Good job. Thats..better?

      • happytwinsfan - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:29 PM

        point out racism through sarcasm and be accused of racism by he whom you had attempted to defend. Ironic.

      • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:34 PM

        I guess I missed the sarcasm. All I saw was two incidents where you brought up racism in two separate comments where there was absolutely nothing that could have even been perceived as such. It looked like you wanted a reason to bring it up.

      • tfbuckfutter - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:44 PM

        Will you guys quit arguing?

        You sound like a couple of damn dirty Swedes.

      • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:46 PM

        Hahaha, don’t you know its not racist when you involve Sweden? Thats like taking the middle on anything. Oh wait, or is that Switzerland?

      • happytwinsfan - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:50 PM

        i thought the sarcasm was blatantly, evenly childishly obvious. the only other thing i can remember posting about ortiz – who btw i don’t give a rat’s ass about either way, was to lament that the twins got almost nothing out of him while the bosox hit the jackpot

        me thinks you’re numbers smart and street stupid.

        anyways, who cares. i’m just preferring that we all get to see a game seven, not who has or hasn’t posted what.

    • happytwinsfan - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:53 PM

      ‘tbfuker’ you’re right. and i take that as a compliment

  3. cabrera24 - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:23 PM

    Cards fans suppose to be the best in baseball but yet they’re throwing paper airplanes on to the field !!! Never saw anything like that in my life . Wow cards fans wow !!!!!!!!

    • spudchukar - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:25 PM

      This is the dumbest comment I have ever read. And that is saying something.

    • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:27 PM

      I think fans running on the field, throwing an American flag down, kneeling on it, soaking it with lighter fluid, and then attempting to light the match is a little worse..

      Cards fans- From a Boston fans perspective you guys have been awesome. Could of boo’d Lester out of the building. Heckled him to high hell. You took the high road. I salute you.

      And how do you know there wasn’t a check for millions tucked in that airplane?

      • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:29 PM

        By the way.. that American flag incident really happened. 76′, Dodgers Stadium. Rick Monday saved the flag from being burned.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:43 AM

      So. None of you thought it was sarcasm?

      • cur68 - Oct 29, 2013 at 9:46 AM

        I did. Once again the matter would be beyond all doubt if Sarcasm Font™ had been used. You’d think $69.69 would be a mere pittance but some people would prefer to be misunderstood rather than pay a trivial sum for enlightenment. It is Canadian funds, though. With the economy the way it is, perhaps that exchange rate is what’s bugging people?

        Remember people, Spending is Good. Its Stimulates Your Economy. With Voodoo. Or Something.

  4. j0esixpack - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    John Lester is Silverado Strong!

    • nbjays - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:29 PM

      Grease job and all.

    • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:30 PM

      No, John’s a Ford guy. Haven’t you been watching the commercials?

      • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:31 PM

        I’m sorry, “Ford Tough”.

      • nbjays - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:34 PM

        Also it’s “Jon”.

      • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:41 PM

        No, it’s John. He’s just been hiding the H in his glove this whole time.

      • nbjays - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:59 AM

        Ahh, I guess I didn’t see it there, covered by that foreign substance.

  5. titansbro - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    That was damn well built paper airplane though. Came in from the upper deck.

    • Francisco (FC) - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:54 AM

      Upper Deck makes paper airplanes now? Damn, the trading card business must be bad.

  6. nbjays - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    Nice to finally see an errorless game that was won by the better team, not one that was lost by one or more bonehead plays.

  7. spudchukar - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:38 PM

    Congrats to the Sox. As a Cards fan all I can say is how embarrassed I am by their play. I wish I could honestly assert that I believe the better team has prevailed. And while I always champion the idea that the team that plays the best, is the better team, this Cards team has exhibited play at times in the past two post seasons that can only be described as choking.

    Entering post-season play, the three players who I would bet would rise to the occasion, are the three who have disappointed so grandly. The play of Wainwright, Carpenter, and Molina has been disappointing to say the least.

    Could the Card come back in Boston. Perhaps, but even if Wacha and Kelly continue to excel, I have little confidence in the Red Bird attack to take advantage of their pitching, and St. Louis is asking way too much from relatively newcomers to the stage, although they have produced much better than the veterans that one would think would surface in important situations.

    Again, Congrats to Boston, sorry St. Louis didn’t provide a worthy competition.

    • peterjohnjoseph - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:44 PM

      Don’t worry. I’ve seen the Cardinals play better this season. I know what they are capable of. I know how it feels when you wish you could force everyone watching the game to know how good they can be just so this isn’t the lasting impression. I felt that way about the Red Sox since the playoffs started. We’ve just been lucky at key times. How else can you explain the two highest scoring offenses in their respective leagues having such low scoring games?

      • spudchukar - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:51 PM

        Thanks, that was an awesome reply. I wish I could be so fair.

      • MLBlogsbig3bosox - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:52 PM

        More importantly, the two highest offenses in their respectives leagues which also neither has a dominant pitching staff to make these games such low scoring ones.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 29, 2013 at 7:47 AM

        Well I explain it with the fact that each lineup is facing some of the best pitching the league has to offer. Remember that regular season totals are inflated by the dreck many other teams put on the mound.

      • gostlcards5 - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:01 PM

        Totally agree, FC. The pitching has generally been very, very good in this series. If not for the first/second inning errors in Gm 1, it would be excellent.

    • Jack Marshall - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:13 AM

      The Red Sox are a deeper, more balanced team, and that should have been clear from the start. The only games the Cards won were handed to them by atypical Boston fielding misadventures. I think St. Louis is a terrific opponent, but how anyone could watch these 5 games and say that the better team hasn’t prevailed is beyond me.

      • gostlcards5 - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:04 PM

        You obviously have not watched much of the Cardinals this year. I’m far from the first person to say that the teams were basically very even as far as depth, except that the StL bullpen is probably 2 guys deeper.

        What is clear is that Boston has pitched better, fielded better, hit better in key situations, just has executed better all the way around. It does not change the fact that the teams are pretty even. Boston has simply played better. (and other than the fact that I dislike Gomes immensely, I have no problem seeing them win the series).

      • Jack Marshall - Oct 29, 2013 at 4:38 PM

        To gostcards: I’ve seen the Cards plenty. They had the same record as the Sox in an inferior division, playing against more sub-.500 teams (look it up), in a league that still isn’t up to the standard of the AL. They don’t steal as many bases, hit for power, have as deep a bench, have as solid a defense, or have as much experience. Their big plus was the flukey average with men in scoring position, and this was mostly luck. You can deny it, and the Sox always are threat to find failure when victory seems closest, but the numbers say Boston is the stronger team, and it is.

    • cohnjusack - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:22 AM

      Cards team has exhibited play at times in the past two post seasons that can only be described as choking.

      What a bunch of chokers, down 3-2 in the World Series, losing 2 of those games by a total of 4 runs.

      I know it sucks when your team (and mine) loses, but…*they are two wins away from a WS title*. That, to me, is not “choking”.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:58 AM

        I tried to explain that to my dad in 2009, he still judged the season a complete and utter failure.

    • byesac - Oct 29, 2013 at 3:10 AM

      Wow, you people had no problem championing your Cardinal Way after the NLCS, but now that the shoes on the other foot, after a few close games, you can’t accept defeat without making excuses? What a bunch of punks.

      • gostlcards5 - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        Who’s making excuses? Boston has played better. That’s it. It’s about execution. The Cardinals simply have not executed like the Sox have. Also, their biggest weakness has been lefty pitching, and Lester (who has been AWESOME) has totally exploited that.

        Kudos to the Sox…yes, even Jonny Gomes (damn…I just threw up in my mouth a little bit with that last part… :) )

      • byesac - Oct 29, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        Spudchukar implied that his Cardinals were still the better team, though they had just lost and played to a 2-2 tie in the series. My reply was to him. He made excuses.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:54 PM

        If you are referring to Spuds’ post please refrain from utilizing the words “you people” and “a bunch of.” After all, Spud is one person. He doesn’t speak for me (or anyone else for that matter).

        Boston has played well (as I have posted previously).
        Boston is tenacious (as I have posted previously).
        Boston doesn’t quit (as I have posted previously).
        Boston keeps coming (as I have posted previously).
        STP is throwing darts. Dude has been lights out.

        Now…please do me a favor and punch yourself in the face as I can’t reach you.

    • saintsfire - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:36 AM

      don’t know what game you have been watching
      Carpenter has been a beast
      Molina batting .375
      Wainright struck out 10 last night but loses 3-1
      It’s been a highly contested series thus far even the 1rst game at 8-1 Boston battled to end threats and rallies
      StL has been worthy competition
      Joy Jay tough disciplined at bats
      Holliday has been good
      Beltran has been Beltran
      Kozma a bit off at the plate but had some clutch at bats
      Freese 2-4 last night, has struggled overall this WS. plays the best when Cards have back against the wall
      I’d give credit to pitching keeping a very talented and high achieving Cardinal lineup from stringing too much offense together in a timely fashion. Outside of game one the Cardinal pitching has done the same.

      • spudchukar - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:17 AM

        If any of your comments were accurate, St. Louis wouldn’t be down 3-2.

  8. thebadguyswon - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    The Cards can’t even hit the floor getting out of bed right now.

    • cohnjusack - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:24 AM

      I’m amazed as the vast number of called third strikes that I’ve seen from them. It’s downright bizarre.

      • tridecagon - Oct 29, 2013 at 11:01 AM

        It’s tough when the strike zone is floating. Last night was a lot better than the previous night, but the time Carpenter struck out to end the inning, the ball was a good 3 inches off the inside edge.

        Sunday’s strike zone was just all over the place. Yeah, you gotta protect the plate, but you also gotta be able to be confident in where the zone is. Boston pitchers have been much better at nibbling the edges and getting the calls.

      • gostlcards5 - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        Floating or not, the Sox have still hit better. The only blatantly bad strike call was the 3rd strike on Carpenter. I hated it, because he finally did one of the things that made him so effective during the season…he went 1-2, fouled a couple, worked his way back to full, and drew the walk. Either way, no guarantee that changes anything, but it sure hurt at the time.

  9. ray0414 - Oct 28, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    did anyone get a good look at the inside of lesters glove to see if the green spot was still there?

    • rje49 - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:38 AM

      No, nobody looked and nobody cared. Not even the TV cameras.

  10. mvd513 - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    Good to know “nailed at the plate” now means “not tagged at all.”

    • detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:15 AM

      It’s baseball. Have you not seen the neighborhood play? Take it or leave it but if a throw beats someone by that much he’s going to be called out.

      • joestemme - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:23 AM

        That ‘neighborhood’ may be getting much smaller next year with replay.

        And, I repeat, why wasn’t it instituted for this post-season once it was announced months ago that it would be there next year? Why wait?

      • detectivejimmymcnulty - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:35 AM

        Now that I agree with, and I don’t know. I guess the ol’ “working out the kinks” line.

      • adowding3 - Oct 29, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        The neighborhood play has nothing to do with a play at the plate. It is a rule protecting middle infielders from getting their knees blown out while turning a double play. But I agree, 9 times out of 10, when the ball beats the runner, he will be called out regardless of a timely application of the tag. This is just an umpires inclination, completely unrelated to ta play at 2nd.

      • gostlcards5 - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:11 PM

        Yes, but did you notice in the replays that you couldn’t really see if Ross actually hit the plate, either. I also thought in one of them that Yadi brought his glove up into Ross, but it was still hard to tell if he actually tagged him.

        Ooohh, the controversy!

    • thebadguyswon - Oct 29, 2013 at 3:37 PM

      Notice how pissed Ross was that he was out? Oh yeah, that’s right, he wasn’t. Because he’s a catcher and he knows what the call will be in that situation.

  11. pistolpete0903 - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    Lester was good and the pitching overall in the series has been good.
    However, to say it was brilliant is a stretch. The offenses have been anemic (barring Ortiz)

  12. misterdreamer119 - Oct 29, 2013 at 12:58 AM

    bottom line is the cards need a center fielder, and an in fielder that can hit a littl bit more. the pitching is there and they should be back again next year fighting for the pennant.

    • cohnjusack - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:25 AM

      Jesus people, I know the odds are against them, but they haven’t lost the World Series yet. I know you have to go all the way back to 2011 when they were last down 3-2 and won the World Series. Pretty hard to remember…

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Oct 29, 2013 at 3:12 AM

        Wow, back to ’11? Hmm, let’s see, William Howard Taft was President, California became the 6th state to let women vote, gas was just… oh, 2011. Never mind.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 29, 2013 at 11:00 PM

        No shit. Some of these people sound exactly like some of the Pirates fans (and a few of the Dodgers fans.) Are the odds stacked? Hell yes. But with PacMan on the mound I feel confident about game #6. Win game #6 and everyone knows anything can happen in game #7. These people make me want to drink. And my liver has the night off.

  13. nothanksimdriving123 - Oct 29, 2013 at 3:16 AM

    Anyone else notice what we don’t seem to have had this entire postseason? A rain delay. Sprinkles in Detroit one day, but nothing serious is all I recall. That said, it finally does look a bit iffy for Boston this week. Hope for the best.

  14. asexatheani - Oct 29, 2013 at 3:44 AM

    Three reasons I am not worried about Game 6:

    1. Wacha

    2. Wacha

    3. Wacha

    That guy is built for working under pressure. There’s few games with more pressure than a Game 6 elimination game.

  15. mugsymagpie - Oct 29, 2013 at 5:26 AM

    Spudchukar, thanks but it is not over. Far from it. Plus, the Cards are great and it has been a great series.

  16. tominma - Oct 29, 2013 at 6:30 AM

    BOSTON STRONG!!

    • nbjays - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:07 AM

      Chevy Silverado says hi :-)

  17. jumanjii70 - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    When’s the parade?

    • pmkoul - Oct 29, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      I am saying this even as a life long (not even 30 yet but I hope that still counts) there is no need to warm up the duck boats just yet. Wacha Wacha Wacha is pitching game 6 so a sox win is far from guaranteed. Also I am not sure who possessed the body of Lackey but not sure how long that will last either

  18. saintsfire - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    nothing is a given
    keep on Battling

    Boston was down 2-1 they overcame a tough spot in StL to even up 2-2 then to 3-2, taking 2 out of 3 in StL but even heading back to Boston the Battle is still on.

  19. natalierosen - Oct 29, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    The Sox a Metaphor for Life — GO SOX!!!! Sox in 6? Who knows but game 5 was a great game with great fielding.

    Why do I love the Sox so? I love the city, love the state and I still have a pic with me about 11 years old in a Red Sox uniform. The love of them all through my childhood was intense. I definitely got that from dad who hated 1920′s Sox owner Walter Frazee all of his life for selling Babe Ruth and beginning the curse. The curse is long gone and my dad never lived to see it but he sees it through his DNA — me. He would never have believed it.

    Ortiz — MVP IF the Sox win. His pow wow during game 4 was a metaphor for team spirit and our metaphor for life. We are ALL of us in this together and the love that comes from that is what makes us win whether in a ballgame or in the game of life.

    The Democratic Party, while not perfect, is the perfect example of that. We do better — MUCH better — when, with our great diversity, we care about each other, the team and the country.

    Moral of this story: NEVER GIVE UP.

    Win or lose I will always love those Sox, my city, my state, and my country.

    Now on to Fenway and let’s win there! Happy at least today. Will I be happy tomorrow? Who knows but I HOPE I will!

    • gostlcards5 - Oct 29, 2013 at 1:14 PM

      Natalie, I was with you till that comment about the Democratic Party.

      My opinion is that neither party does a very good job of caring about each other, the country, or the people they should be representing.

    • rc33 - Oct 29, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      LOL at “while not perfect..”
      Uh, ya think so?
      Let’s leave the utopian, Kumbaya stuff…metaphorical or not…to utopians.
      This is baseball.

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