Game 3 featured two Boston Red Sox comebacks, multiple missed opportunities and a tied ballgame heading into the ninth inning. And then things got exciting.
On a play that may define the 2013 World Series, Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks was called for obstruction for tripping Allen Craig by third-base umpire Jim Joyce, thus awarding Craig home plate and the Cardinals a 5-4 victory on Saturday night. St. Louis now leads the best-of-seven series 2-1.
The controversial call happened with one out in the ninth inning, with Jon Jay batting against Red Sox closer Koji Uehara. Jay hit a sharp ground ball to Dustin Pedroia, who made a diving stop from the edge of the infield grass and fired home to get Yadier Molina at the plate.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia then made an errant throw to third trying to nab Craig, and the ball skirted into foul territory in left field. But as Craig was trying to run home, he appeared to trip over the diving Middlebrooks' feet. After getting up, he attempted to score and looked to be out at home.
But the play was called for obstruction and the Cardinals raced from the dugout in celebration as the Red Sox raced from theirs looking for explanation.
St. Louis' game-winning run was charged to Brandon Workman, whose presence in the ninth inning also caused controversy. Workman's spot in the order came up in the top of the frame, at which point most expected John Ferrell to pinch-hit Mike Napoli for the reliever. Ferrell instead kept Workman in the game, who struck out in three pitches against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.
The crazy finish was an embodiment of Game 3, which featured both teams exchanged the momentum in the final three frames.
Three innings after the Cardinals blew a bases-loaded, no-outs situation, Matt Holliday tagged a 1-1 pitch off Junichi Tazawa down the left field line in the seventh, scoring Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran. The runs, which gave St. Louis a 4-2 lead, were charged to Craig Breslow, whose struggles in Game 2 helped St. Louis even the series at 1-1. Carpenter reached on a check-swing infield single and Beltran on a hit-by-pitch that just nicked his left elbow guard.
But, just as it looked like the Cardinals could skate to victory, the Red Sox answered in the top of the eighth. Carlos Martinez quickly loaded the bases with one out before ceding control to closer Trevor Rosenthal, who allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to score on a Daniel Nava groundout that featured a beautiful play from Kolten Wong at second.
Xander Bogaerts then tied the ballgame up at 4-4 with a single to center, the talented rookie's second huge hit of the evening.
That set up the ninth-inning dramatics, but long before the crazy finish the team's starting pitchers had polar opposite performances.
The Cardinals got to Boston starter Jake Peavy early, tagging him for four singles in the first five at-bats. Holliday's opposite-field knock scored Carpenter, and Molina drove him in two batters later, giving St. Louis a 2-0 lead before the Busch Stadium crowd was even fully seated.
Although Peavy got out of the second and third innings without issue, trouble again found him in the fourth.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, again taking advantage via singles and walks. But, this time, Peavy worked his way out of the jam by retiring the next three batters. Pete Kozma struck out looking, and Joe Kelly and Matt Carpenter hit pop-ups to the middle infield to end the frame.
Acquired with October in mind, Jake Peavy's form has scuffled this postseason. He's failed to make it to the fifth inning his past two starts, giving up nine runs in seven innings.
Peavy ceded the mound to the bullpen after getting out of the jam. He finished the game with only the two first-inning runs allowed despite giving up six hits and walking one. With games coming each of the next two days, it will be imperative that the Red Sox starters avoid extending the bullpen further.
Meanwhile, it was Cardinals' second-year starter Joe Kelly who looked like the seasoned veteran. He began by retiring the first nine Boston batters, inducing a series of weak ground balls. The Red Sox wouldn't get on the board until the fifth inning, when Mike Carp scored Bogaerts on a fielder's choice to make it 2-1.
Kelly left having given up only two hits over 5.1 innings, but the Cardinals bullpen was unable to hold the lead in the sixth inning. David Ortiz singled down the right field line against Randy Choate in a lefty-lefty matchup, moving Shane Victorino to third, and Daniel Nava knocked him in with an RBI single off Seth Maness. Both earned runs were charged to Kelly.
Bogaerts grounded into a double play to end the threat with the score tied 2-2 after the top of the sixth.
The two sides return to Busch Stadium on Sunday for Game 4. Clay Buchholz, whose original Game 3 start was pushed back due to shoulder discomfort, will be on the mound for Boston. He's given up 10 earned runs in only 16.2 innings in three postseason starts. Lance Lynn, who won two games in the NLCS, will go for the Cardinals.
|Jacoby Ellsbury CF||B|
|Shane Victorino RF||B|
|Dustin Pedroia 2B||C|
|David Ortiz 1B||B-|
|Daniel Nava LF||B|
|Xander Bogaerts 3B||B|
|Jarrod Saltalamacchia C||C|
|Stephen Drew SS||D|
|Will Middlebrooks Sub||C-|
|Mike Carp PH||B-|
|Jonny Gomes PH||C-|
|Jake Peavy SP||C|
|Felix Doubront RP||B|
|Craig Breslow RP||C-|
|Junichi Tazawa RP||B-|
|Brandon Workman RP||C-|
|Koji Uehara RP||C|
|Matt Carpenter 2B||B|
|Carlos Beltran RF||C|
|Matt Holliday LF||A|
|Matt Adams 1B||B+|
|Yadier Molina C||A|
|David Freese 3B||C|
|Jon Jay CF||C|
|Pete Kozma SS||D|
|Daniel Descalso Sub||C|
|Allen Craig PH||A|
|Shane Robinson PH||C|
|Kolten Wong Sub||B|
|Joe Kelly SP||B|
|Randy Choate RP||C-|
|Kevin Siegrist RP||B-|
|Carlos Martinez RP||D|
|Trevor Rosenthal RP||B-|
Player of the Game: Matt Holliday (OF, St. Louis Cardinals)
At this point, Holliday is slowly cementing his status as the most underappreciated hitter of this generation. While his counting stats rarely put him in the stratosphere of the Miguel Cabreras and Mike Trouts of the world, the 33-year-old outfielder is a bastion of consistency. He hits for average, plus power and rarely strikes out while playing a solid enough left field.
So games where he comes through in the clutch are always a good reminder of just how efficient he is. For all the talk of Carlos Beltran's excellent postseason acumen, it's actually been Holliday leading the way for St. Louis in the Fall Classic. He's hitting .385 for the series and slugging .846, the latter only eclipsed by David Ortiz, who went 1-for-2 with two walks in Game 3.
Holliday has also knocked in four of the Cardinals' nine runs in this series, including three in Game 3. Without him, Boston would definitely be ahead 2-1, and who knows what would have happened in Game 2 without his fourth-inning triple.
It's safe to say the Cardinals fans—when they won't be talking about how the game ended—will be discussing Matt Holliday's quiet brilliance.
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