Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Keys to World Series Game 5
There has been a lot of excitement in the 2013 World Series, with a walk-off obstruction call in Game 3 that went the St. Louis Cardinals' way and a game-ending pickoff in Game 4 that helped the Boston Red Sox even the series at two games apiece.
Whichever team picks up the victory in Game 5 will have an edge as the series returns to Boston.
Both teams have had some key players struggle so far this series and will need them to get going in Game 5.
Boston Red Sox: Stephen Drew Breaks out of Slump
While the Boston Red Sox have had a lot of success this postseason, not much of it can be attributed to Stephen Drew. He has been anemic at the plate since the calendar turned to October.
Drew has collected just four hits in 47 at-bats for a paltry .085 batting average, and his on-base percentage (.102) isn't much better as he's only walked once in the postseason.
Alex Speier of WEEI.com pointed out that Drew's batting average and on-base percentage have been historically bad for the playoffs. For players with at least 40 postseason at-bats, Drew has the third-worst batting average and second-worst on-base percentage.
One reason that could explain Drew's struggles is the increase in his strikeout rate this postseason. During the regular season, Drew struck out 24.8 percent of the time, but that number has grown to a concerning 34.7 percent during the playoffs.
If history is any indication, it may be difficult for Drew to get things going against St. Louis Game 5 starter Adam Wainwright. Drew has just two hits in 19 regular-season at-bats against Wainwright and has struck out five times.
St. Louis Cardinals: Adam Wainwright Brings His 'A' Game
Following his poor start in Game 1 of the World Series in which he gave up five runs in five innings, Adam Wainwright said, "Everything that I threw tonight was pretty garbage," per Anthony Gulizia of The Boston Globe.
Part of the problem could be attributed to Wainwright's pitch selection and movement. According to Brooks Baseball, Wainwright threw his four-seamer 20.2 percent of the time during the regular season, and it also had significant horizontal movement. However, in his Game 1 start, Wainwright turned to the pitch 29.47 percent of the time, and the horizontal movement on the pitch just was not there. Additionally, Wainwright was much more reliant on his curveball and less reliant on his sinker.
Wainwright has been pretty successful in the postseason prior to this weak outing. In 60.2 career playoff innings, Wainwright has a 2.37 ERA and 66 strikeouts. He has shined in big playoff moments before, including his strikeout of then-New York Met Carlos Beltran with the bases loaded to end Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.
The Cardinals need Wainwright to show why he is one of the most dominant pitchers in the National League if they are going to leave St. Louis with a series lead.
Boston Red Sox: Tired Bullpen Comes Through
Since the series has shifted to St. Louis, both Boston Red Sox starters have lasted four innings. This has caused the Red Sox bullpen to see a lot of action over the past few days.
Boston's relievers have been key to their success this postseason as they have allowed just seven earned runs over 45.2 innings. That has allowed them to hold onto to leads as well as keep games close to enable comebacks such as the one in Game 2 of the ALCS.
Three Red Sox relievers have appeared in at least three World Series games thus far. In fact, the Red Sox have turned to Junichi Tazawa in all four games of the series and a total of 12 times in the postseason.
While Craig Breslow was lights out during the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs, he has struggled in the World Series. The Red Sox have called on him three times, and he has only managed to record one out while giving up three hits, two walks and two earned runs.
Based on how close the World Series games have been following Game 1, it seems likely that the bullpen will play a big role in Game 5. The lack of innings from the Red Sox starters in the past two games could come back to bite them.
St. Louis Cardinals: David Freese Steps It Up
David Freese is certainly no stranger to big World Series moments. In addition to his memorable home run in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, he displayed more heroics during this year's playoffs. During the decisive Game 5 of the NLDS, Freese got the Cardinals on the board early with a two-run home run in the second inning.
However, the remainder of this year's postseason and edition of the Fall Classic have not been something for Freese to remember.
In the first two playoff series, Freese mustered just seven hits and had a .189 batting average. Things have gotten worse as the stage has gotten bigger. Freese has gone 1-for-12 thus far in the World Series.
Overall, Freese is just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position in the postseason.
St. Louis needs Freese to get hot for the remainder of the playoffs to give its lineup a spark.