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Red Sox top Cardinals in World Series Game 5: Grades

By Eye on Baseball staff

David Ortiz has earned himself a high grade. Once again. (USATSI)
David Ortiz has earned himself a high grade. Once again. (USATSI)

MORE: Game 5 quick hits | Game 5 boxscore

The Red Sox topped the Cardinals in Game 5 of the World Series by a score of 3-1, and now they'll head back to Fenway with a 3-2 lead in the series. Before the scene shifts, though, let's hand out some report cards for Monday night's action ...

TeamGradeAnalysis
AFor the second time in the series, Jon Lester was absolutely masterful in Game 5. He followed his 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball in Game 1 with 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball in Game 5, with the only blemish a monster solo homer by Matt Holliday. Lester retired 12 straight following the homer and ended the night with seven strikeouts and only four hits allowed. He managed that despite throwing a first pitch strike to only 11 of 26 batters faced. The lefty was brilliant. Again.
AHard to believe that Lester has allowed one run in 15 innings across two World Series starts and is, at best, a distant second in the series MVP race. David Ortiz went 3 for 4 with a run-scoring double in Game 5 and is now hitting .733 (!) in the series with six runs driven in. His one out in Game 5 was a rocket smashed right to Jon Jay in dead center. Big Papi is locked in, so much so that he'll probably be named the World Series MVP even if the Cardinals manage to comeback to win the series.
B-I don't think the pitching line -- 7 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K -- does Adam Wainwright justice in Game 5. He pitched very well before the seventh inning, holding the Red Sox to one run while striking out nine in the first six innings. His only real obvious mistake was the hanging curveball that David Ross whacked for a double to break the 1-1 tie in the seventh. There's no shame in giving up a run-scoring double to Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury's run-scoring single was a jam shot bloop. That's a tough loss to take. Wainwright was very good, which wasn't good enough.
DOnce again, Mike Matheny showed too slow of a hook. In the seventh, Adam Wainwright appeared to hit a wall in terms of command after he gave up a single to Xander Bogaerts, walked the deeply struggling Stephen Drew and then gave up a two-RBI, go-ahead double to David Ross. Wainwright retired Lester, but Matheny stuck with him against the platoon-advantaged Jacoby Ellsbury even though lefty Kevin Siegrist was warming up. Sure enough, Ellsbury singled home an insurance run. Matheny badly needs to realize that aggressive use of his shutdown bullpen is in order in the postseason. Too often this series, he's stuck with his starter too long. This isn't the regular season. This is high-stakes baseball, and it's time for Matheny to start managing accordingly.
FThis bottom-most grade goes out to the Cardinals' offense (with the exception of Matt Holliday, whose solo shot accounted for their only run). There's really no decoupling great pitching on one team from bad hitting on the other, so we're at once holding up Lester for high marks while also failing the St. Louis hitters. In Game 5, the Cardinals' offense went 4-for-29 overall and 0-for-4 with RISP. They also struck out nine times and drew not a single walk. They've given the pitching staff very little room to breathe in this series.
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