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World Series Game 5 preview: Lester vs. Wainwright

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

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With the series tied 2-2, it's Wainwright vs. Lester in Game 5. (USATSI)

ST. LOUIS -- We're now through four games in the 2013 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, so it's time to look ahead to Game 5. It will start at 8:07 p.m. ET/7:07 p.m. CT.

The pitching matchup is the same one we had in Game 1, when Red Sox starter Jon Lester was outstanding and Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright was knocked around Fenway Park.

Let's dig deeper.

Wainwright vs. Red Sox

We all know Wainwright is a "true ace" and before Game 1 had an excellent postseason track record. So we don't need to get into any of those stats. For Wainwright, there are two key elements here.

1. What went wrong against the Red Sox last time and why could it be different this time around?
2. Is he running out of gas?

On the first question, Wainwright believes he just didn't execute and is headed into Game 5 with a "clean slate."

"I honestly don't know why my mechanics were as bad as they were -- my delivery was off as much as it was," Wainwright said in his news conference before Game 4. "I feel like I've put a lot of good reps in front of the mirror, and watching film and feeling my delivery again, learning the basics all over again. I feel like I've made a lot of good adjustments to be ready for this next game to throw some quality pitches. I threw maybe four or five good pitches the whole time I was pitching [in Game 1]."

But that leads me to the second point above. What if Wainwright's arm is fatigued and that's what was causing the command and mechanical issues?

Before Game 1, Wainwright had logged 264 2/3 innings this season. Remember when Tigers ace Justin Verlander was in lock-down mode heading into last season's World Series? He had thrown 262 2/3 innings at the time. And then he was shelled in Game 1 by the Giants.

Fatigue doesn't always show up in the form of velocity drops. It can cause issues in command and can affect mechanics.

So that's definitely something to watch here.

Lester vs. Cardinals

Lester was dominant against the Cardinals last time out. They were also very unfamiliar with him, so that might help their cause heading into Game 5.

This time around, though, Lester is away from the comfortable confines of Fenway Park. In the regular season, Lester was 7-1 with a 3.09 ERA at Fenway and 8-7 with a 4.21 ERA on the road. In three postseason starts at Fenway, Lester has a 1.25 ERA. In his one road postseason start, he wasn't bad, but he wasn't dominant. He allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings while giving up seven hits and three walks. He only struck out three, while his strikeout rate at home was much better.

As for the other -- incredibly annoying, if you ask me -- storyline, there will surely be plenty of attention on Lester's glove after Substancegate stemming from Game 1. And he knows that.

"I'm sure there's going to be focus on my glove and focus on my hands and what I'm doing," Lester said before Game 4. "But I've got to worry about the Cardinals. If I'm worried about what people are looking at, I'm worried about the wrong things. I'm going to go out and pitch my game."

 
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