MLB Notebook: Lester on a World Series roll
Southpaw's superb Game 5 performance elevates his 2013 postseason body of work
When New York Giants right-hander Christy Mathewson came to the mound for the second inning of Game 1 of the 1911 World Series, the future Hall of Famer could boast of a World Series resume that -- at that exact moment -- featured a total of 28 innings (27 of them in 1905) and no runs allowed. Matty's streak would come to an end in that second inning, when Athletics first baseman Harry Davis singled in Home Run Baker. More than a half-century later, Red Sox right-hander Jim Lonborg began his World Series career with a one-hit shutout in Game 2 of the 1967 Fall Classic, and then in Game 5, took a shutout into the ninth before seeing his consecutive scoreless innings streak end at 17 with a home run by Cardinals outfielder Roger Maris. When Red Sox southpaw Jon Lester began the fourth inning of Game 5 of the 2013 Fall Classic, the 29-year-old had on his World Series ledger a total of 16 1/3 scoreless innings to his credit, and a place just behind Mathewson and Lonborg in conversations about the longest scoreless-innings streaks to begin a World Series career.
The Red Sox used a two-run seventh inning to support Lester's superb outing and defeated the Cardinals, 3-1, in Game 5 on Monday. With the outcome, the World Series shifts back to Fenway Park with Boston holding a three games to two lead.
Lester improved to 4-1 in the 2013 postseason, throwing 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball. The southpaw allowed four hits and no walks with seven strikeouts.
Lester, who owns a 1.56 ERA in 34 2/3 postseason innings in 2013, is the second Red Sox pitcher with at least four wins as a starter in a single postseason. In 2007, Josh Beckett was 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA in four starts and 30 innings.
Lefties on another level
|Eddie Plank||1911, G2||8||9.0||1||W|
|Lefty Grove||1931, G1||7||9.0||2||W|
|Max Lanier||1943, G1||7||7.0||4||L|
|Sandy Koufax||1963, G4||8||9.0||1||W|
|Frank Viola||1987, G7||7||8.0||2||W|
|Andy Pettitte||2001, G2||8||7.0||4||L|
|Cliff Lee||2009, G1||10||9.0||1||W|
Lester joined Smoky Joe Wood (Game 4, 1912) and Rube Foster (Game 2, 1915) as the only Red Sox pitchers with at least seven strikeouts and no walks in a World Series contest.
Lester's line in this effort gave him a Game Score a 74, with his Game 1 start producing a 76. He is the 22nd pitcher in World Series history to have consecutive starts in a single World Series that produced scores of at least 74 (the southpaws are identified by an asterisk):
• 3: Mathewson (1905), Stan Coveleski (1920), George Earnshaw (1930) and Bob Gibson (1967).
• 2: Deacon Phillippe (1903), Three Finger Brown (1906), Orval Overall (1908), Mathewson (1911), Dick Rudolph (1914), Walter Johnson (1925), Carl Hubbell* (1933), Lew Burdette (1957), Whitey Ford* (1960), Koufax* (1963), Koufax* (1965), Jim Lonborg (1967), Gibson (1968), Steve Blass (1971), Bret Saberhagen (1985), Orel Hershiser (1988), Curt Schilling (2001) and Lester* (2013).
David Ortiz doubled in a run in the first, singled to lead off the fourth, lined out to center in the sixth, and then singled in the eighth.
With his single in the fourth, Ortiz matched Billy Hatcher's 1990 record for most consecutive times reaching safely in a World Series, at nine. Ortiz's streak -- which began in Game 3 -- sequenced like this: walk, single, intentional walk, single, double, walk, single, double, single. In '90, Hatcher reached safely in his first nine plate appearances of the World Series, collecting four doubles, a triple, two singles, and two walks.
Ortiz has 11 hits in this World Series, leaving him two shy of the record for a single Fall Classic. That high mark of 13 is shared by the Yankees' Bobby Richardson (1964), the Cardinals' Lou Brock (1968) and Red Sox second baseman Marty Barrett (1986).
Ortiz has reached safely at least three times in four straight games this World Series. He is the fourth player to do this in a single Fall Classic, joining the Giants' Barry Bonds in 2002 (the only one with five straight), the Yankees' Johnny Lindell in 1947 and the Reds' Pete Rose in 1975.
Ortiz currently owns a .733/.750/1.267/2.017 line in the 2013 Fall Classic. The World Series high mark for:
• Batting average is .750, produced by Hatcher in 1990.
• On-base percentage is .800, by Hatcher in '90.
• Slugging percentage is 1.727, by Lou Gehrig in 1928.
• OPS is 2.433, by Gehrig in '28.
Ortiz has reached safely at least twice in six straight World Series games, tying Carl Yastrzemski for the longest such streak in Red Sox history. Ortiz now has six multihit games in his World Series career, matching Duffy Lewis for the most by a Red Sox player. Lewis had two each in 1912, '15 and '16. Ortiz had one in 2004 and one in '07 before his four (so far) this year.
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright took the loss, allowing three runs in seven innings. The right-hander also struck out 10 with one walk.
Wainwright is the 53rd pitcher to have a double-digit strikeout game in the World Series, and one of four Cardinals pitchers on the list. Gibson had five of them (the most in history), while Mort Cooper and Pete Alexander each had one.
Wainwright is the 17th World Series pitcher to have at least 10 strikeouts and issue no more than one walk. Of the 17, Wainwright is one of four to also pick up the loss in the effort. The first three: the Browns' Denny Galehouse in Game 5 in 1944, the Dodgers' Don Newcombe in Game 1 in 1949 and the Giants' Jack Sanford in Game 5 in 1962.
Supporting Lester in his cause in this Game 5, Koji Uehara threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings for the save. Uehara now has four multiple-inning saves in 2013, tying him for the fifth most in a single postseason. Mariano Rivera (1999, 2001) and Jonathan Papelbon (2007) also have four; Rivera notched five in each of the 1998, 2000 and '03 postseasons. Goose Gossage has the most multiple-inning saves in a single postseason, with six in 1981.
With Lester and Uehara combining for the four-hitter, Red Sox pitchers are holding the Cardinals to a .218 batting average, a .274 on-base percentage, a .303 slugging percentage and a .577 OPS.
The lowest marks for a Red Sox staff in a full World Series came in 1915:
• Batting average against: .182
• On-base percentage-against: .244
• Slugging percentage-against: .243
• OPS-against: .487
Cardinals pitchers have held the Red Sox to a .205 batting average, and a .585 OPS in the 2013 Fall Classic.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.