ST. LOUIS — After having seen how well right-hander Lance Lynn performed against them in Game 4 of the World Series, slugger David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox said his team won't be overconfident in Game 5 on Monday night, when they have to face right-hander Adam Wainwright. No matter that Wainwright said he showed them "nothing" in an ugly performance — for him — in Game 1.
"There's no relaxing here," Ortiz said. "We're playing against a good team. They have their ace going tomorrow. We faced their fourth starting pitcher and he gave us a hard time."
Wainwright wasn't helped at all by his defense in Boston's 8-1 victory in Game 1, but he also wasn't at his best, allowing five runs — three earned — and six hits over five innings. And one of the defensive lapses was partly his own fault.
"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 Sunday. "But I feel like I've put a lot of good reps in 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 quality pitches the whole time I was pitching [in Game 1]. Luckily, to come away with just a few runs; it could have been ten instead of five."
While it hasn't predetermined the Series winner ever time, Game 5 often is a crucial juncture for both teams. The winner of Game 5 also has won the entire Series 27 of 42 times in history. And taking into account recent history in the National League Championship Series and the World Series — both of which are best-of-seven sets — Game 5 is going to be especially vital for the home team, notes Cliff Corcoran of Sports Illustrated:
In best-of-seven series with the conventional 2/3/2 home/road pattern, 19 teams have lost a tiebreaking Game 5 at home, and just one of them, the Atlanta Braves in the 1991 National League Championship Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, rallied to win the final two games on the road to take the series. By comparison, of the 33 teams that lost a tiebreaking Game 5 on the road, 13 rallied to win the series at home.
No matter how much Boston's offense has struggled against every other St. Louis starting pitcher than Wainwright, the Cardinals probably need to take advantage of having their best pitcher on the mound before going back to Fenway Park. And that's the way Carpenter likes it. Earlier in the Series, he said he embraced the mental challenge of having these games mean more than ordinary ones.
"What I found throughout my playoff career so far is that I respond really well when the adrenaline really kicks in. I love that. The crowd gets louder. I get more fired up. That's something that I just — I can't tell you how cool it is to pitch in front of great crowd."
It's the last game of the baseball season at Busch Stadium. And the Cardinals need every advantage possible going in to the inevitable Game 6 in Boston.
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