Welcome back to the World Series where no one (except Ortiz) can hit

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

ST. LOUIS -- For two days, this World Series gave us endings never seen before.

And then Game 5 gave us one we've seen over and over.

There was the obstruction game and there was the Koji pickoff game, but nearly every game in this postseason has been the pitching game. So many games have been like Game 5, a 3-1 Red Sox win that left the Sox one victory away from winning a title.

One win away from winning a World Series in which they've batted .205 as a team. One win away from a celebration, even though they have one guy hitting .733 and 24 other guys combining to hit .151.

That's the story of this postseason.

You'd better pitch, because it sure is hard to hit.

It's been that way all week. It's been that way all month.

"Any run you can squeeze across is huge right now," Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright said Monday night. "You get a run, you get an advantage."

Wainwright, by any standard we've known in recent years, pitched a fine game Monday. He went seven innings. He allowed three runs.

But he lost, the second time in this postseason he lost a game like this. The Cardinals were the 11th team in this postseason to lose a game while allowing no more than three runs.

In the entire 2009 postseason, that happened three times.

Has the hitting this month been that bad? Or is the pitching simply that good?

Through five games, the Red Sox and Cardinals combined are batting .212 (take out David Ortiz, and it's .186). Through 15 games for the Red Sox and 16 for the Cardinals this month, the two best teams in the game are hitting a combined .219.

"It's back to being a pitcher's league," Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes said.

Gomes is hitting .071, and he's one of the heroes of this series, because his one hit was the three-run home run that won Game 4. Stephen Drew is hitting .067, but at least he had an important sacrifice fly in Game 4 and a key walk in Game 5.

In this postseason, every sacrifice fly is important. Every walk seems key.

In this postseason, plenty of people wondered if Wainwright made a mistake when he didn't walk Ortiz in the first inning Monday night.

People wanted him to pitch around a guy in the first inning. And the people who were saying it may not have been wrong.

As it was, Wainwright didn't pitch around Ortiz, and Ortiz doubled home the game's first run. It was Ortiz's ninth hit of the World Series, and before Game 5 was over, he would add two more.

"I was born for this," Ortiz said.

Ortiz has been amazing to watch plenty of times in his outstanding career, and never more than right now. He was a great hitter in an era where plenty of people hit, but now he's proving to be a great hitter at a time where so many others can't.

"We're facing the same guys he is," Gomes said. "He's definitely driving the bus. I'm facing the same guys he does -- and he's making it look easy."

The guys Ortiz and the Red Sox have faced this month include the outstanding Rays staff, then the Tiger rotation of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez, and now the Cardinals with Wainwright and Michael Wacha and the rest.

They'll get Wacha again in Wednesday night's Game 6 at Fenway, pitching again against John Lackey, which only means that no one will be surprised if we see more of the same.

The Cardinals had to face Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole, and then Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. You expect that if you get to October that you're going to be facing the best, but this month it feels more like every team is facing the best of the best on the mound.

It feels like every kid throws 100 mph (and many of them do). It feels like every game ends with one team (and sometimes both) having double-digit strikeouts, because most of the do.

The Red Sox struck out 14 times in Game 5 (and they won!). The Red Sox have already won eight games this month in which they've struck out at least 10 times, and five in which they've fanned at least 12 times.

Remember, the Red Sox also came within two outs of getting no-hit in this postseason (at least they did lose that game, 1-0). They've scored more than four runs three times in their last 13 games.

And they're one win away from a championship.

"It's just good pitching," Shane Victorino said. "The last series was the same way. This whole postseason has been like that. Everybody's pitching staff was good this year.

"Every postseason is like that."

No, it's not.

In almost every postseason, batting averages go down from where they were in the regular season, because only the best teams make it and even those teams use only their best pitchers. But what we're seeing this October could be historic, almost as historic as a game-ending obstruction play or a game-ending pickoff.

No team since the 1966 Orioles has won a World Series with a batting average as low as the .205 the Red Sox are carrying around through five games. Those Orioles had to face Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale -- and no one had come up with the designated hitter rule.

Perhaps everything will change when we get back to Fenway, back to games with a DH. Don't count on it.

For nearly a month, we've seen this game over and over.

You get a run, you get an advantage.

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