After four games, countless second guessing, one of the most controversial finishes you'll ever see and the first walk-off pickoff in World Series history, the Red Sox and Cardinals are deadlocked at two games apiece. When the first pitch of Game 5 is thrown, the 2013 season will come down to a best-of-three between the best team in each league.
The series has been played to a draw, but details have emerged in the aftermath of Game 4. How, after both posting 97 wins in the regular season and navigating through the LDS and LCS, did we get here?
Or, in other words, the key stats and facts about the 2013 World Series.
Here are must-know stats and facts about Game 4 and the 2013 World Series. Consider this a review of what has occurred, preview of what is on tap and a guide to the inevitable World Series water cooler talk on Monday.
2013 represents the 84th time the World Series stood 2-1 after three games. The team leading 2-1 is now 42-42 in Game 4 (via MLB PR).
The aftermath of Saturday night's Game 3 was, well, unique. Anger, frustration and confusion filled the minds of fans, players, umpires and media members from St. Louis' press box to living rooms and bars around the country.
Among the narratives that sprung up when Allen Craig was awarded home plate and a victory for St. Louis: The Cardinals would enter Game 4 with all the momentum and pressure would shift upon Boston's shoulders. If that was true, the numbers certainly didn't bear it out. Now, after Boston sealed Game 4, the team leading 2-1 has now given that lead back exactly half the time.
Momentum was fun for a night, but it's now squarely back in Boston's corner.
Clay Buchholz's average fastball velocity during the regular season: 91.9. Clay Buchholz's average fastball velocity in Game 4: 89.1 (via Fangraphs and Brooks Baseball).
Despite having seven full days of rest since his last October appearance, Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz simply didn't have anything close to his best stuff in Game 4. The extra rest didn't bring back his velocity, sharpness or allow his effectiveness to take him past 66 pitches or four innings.
Although Buchholz didn't factor into the decision, his ability to give Red Sox manager John Farrell four decent innings (3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) played a role in the victory. Unfortunately for Boston, it became a long night for the bullpen.
In total, Boston relievers tallied five innings and 72 pitches. Without the luxury of an off day between Game 4 and Game 5, the Red Sox will need length out of Jon Lester to successfully navigate on Monday night. On the flip side, the St. Louis Cardinals approach should be quite simple against Boston's starter: drive up his pitch count at all costs.
The three-run home run by Jonny Gomes represented his first RBI since Game 1 of the Division Series (via Peter Abraham).
Yes, Boston is now 8-1 in the postseason with Jonny Gomes in the lineup, but Game 3 was supposed to be the night that logic prevailed. Despite hanging around the lineup for most of the postseason, at the expense of playing time for Daniel Nava, Gomes wasn't carrying his weight.
After hitting .222 in the LDS and .188 in the LCS, Gomes entered the night sporting a .000 batting average across eight World Series at-bats. Due to numbers like that, Gomes wasn't even slated to start Game 4, but plans changed when Shane Victorino was a late scratch with back tightness.
When the 32-year-old outfielder stepped to the plate with two men on in the sixth inning, his World Series line was an ugly 0-for-10. By the time Seth Maness' high sinker cleared the left field wall, Gomes shut up his critics and the Red Sox were on their way to a victory.
Against St. Louis' cast of right-handed starters, the best outfield, health permitting, for John Farrell still consists of Nava, Ellsbury and Victorino from left to right, but Gomes' power bat and clutch home run will keep him in the conversation for major playing time.
Prior to allowing Gomes' three-run home run, Seth Maness gave up just two home runs to right-handed hitters in 170 plate appearances (via Mark Whicker).
Cardinals' manager Mike Matheny has made his share of head-scratching moves in this World Series, including allowing Lance Lynn to pitch around David Ortiz in the sixth inning prior to Gomes' moment, but tabbing Maness as the reliever to take on Gomes shouldn't be on his list of gaffes.
Before Game 3, Seth Maness had allowed opposing right-handed hitters to take him deep just once every 85 innings. During Gomes' career, dating back to 2003, he connected for home runs against right-handed pitching just once every 23.1 at-bats.
As a sinkerball pitcher, the idea was sound by Mathney: If Maness could have induced the lead-footed Gomes into a ground ball, a double-play was almost assured.
The sinker was up, but the decision wasn't wrong.
David Ortiz is hitting .727 (8-for-11) in the World Series.
After hitting just .091 (2-for-22) in the ALCS, David Ortiz has returned to his dominant October form through the first four games of the World Series. Days after legitimate debate about sitting the 37-year-old designated hitter while in the National League park, imagining a Red Sox lineup card without him in Game 5 is impossible.
The eight hits have ignited an offense, but it's everything Ortiz brings to the table, from experience to leadership, that makes the Red Sox engine hum in these games.
In the aftermath of Game 4, Clay Buchholz was asked about Ortiz's mid-game pep talk in the Red Sox dugout.
"We call him Cooperstown," Buchholz said to Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald. "When he talks, we listen."
The World Series is tied 2-2 for the 43rd time. The team that has went on to win Game 5 has won 64.3 percent of the time, but only three of the last 10 (via MLB PR).
Well, well, well. In what has now become a best-of-three series, the Game 5 winner will be in a commanding position after Monday night. Yet, despite only needing to win one of the last two games in order to capture a World Series, the odds have begun to shift back away from the Game 5 winner in recent years.
The 64.3 percent chance is a sizable number, but think about how much higher it was before the last 10 instances.
Heading into this World Series, the Game 5 winner in a 2-2 series won 27 of 42 times. Yet, prior to those last 10 scenarios, the ratio was 24-of-35.
Expect words like "pivotal" and "crucial" to be used at every juncture of Game 5, but the bottom line remains for every World Series: Until four victories are achieved, there is no victor.
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