Connect with us

MLB

World Series Game 2 News and Notes

XN Sports recaps some of the most important storylines of the World Series heading into game 2.

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha

Oct 18, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning in game six of the National League Championship Series baseball game at Busch Stadium. David E. Klutho/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

After a very eventful Game 1 of the World Series, in a game that wasn’t even close, there are already many developments that could affect the series going forward. Some will play a role in Game 2 tonight. Others may bubble for a few days. But there are now more things that could have an impact on how this series plays out.

BELTRAN INJURY

During a play that was eerily similar to David Ortiz’s grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS, Ortiz hit another ball toward the right field bullpen in the second inning last night. Instead of flipping over the wall, a la Torii Hunter, Carlos Beltran robbed Big Papi of another home run, but slammed his ribs into the fence. He was clearly in discomfort and ended up leaving the game after the third out was made. X-rays were negative, but he still has a significant bruise.

It’s disappointing on two fronts. Firstly, Beltran has had a very successful and long career, but this is his first appearance in a World Series. After 15 years trying to get to this point, it would be a shame if the injury lingered long enough to either keep him out of the lineup or limited him physically. Secondly, he has been a huge part of this Cardinals team. He hit .296 with 24 homers and 84 RBI during the regular season. During the playoffs, he has a .900 OPS, has come up with some huge defensive plays in right, and was the hero of Game 1 of the NLCS. He is a force that will be tough to replace.

If St. Louis will have to play without him, Jon Jay will likely get the start in center and Shane Robinson will move to right. In 36 at bats this postseason, Jay has hit .194/.286/.194 with no extra base hits and eight strikeouts. The Cardinals would, in effect, be replacing a number two power hitter with a bottom-of-the-order hitter who can be a defensive liability. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny says Beltran will be a game-time decision.

BUCHHOLZ’S STATUS

After question marks arose before Game 1 about whether Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz would be able to make his start in Game 3 or 4, the picture still hasn’t exactly gotten clearer. The only things that have changed are that Buchholz has acknowledged that he is dealing with shoulder fatigue and Jake Peavy has been named as the Game 3 starter. Red Sox manager John Farrell did offer a little optimism in Buchholz’s prognosis last night. “After we went through some work today,” Farrell said, “[Buchholz] did throw a little bit in the outfield, we’ll probably look to give him every extra day we can, and that would point to Sunday being Game 4.”

That’s hardly a commitment to a starter expected to be a front-line guy on the game’s biggest stage. For his part, Buchholz did speak after the game, as well. “I have, probably, one start left and this is where I want to throw it on the line,” Buchholz said. “That’s sort of how I’m looking at it right now. I haven’t been 100 percent for a long time now. I’ve pitched at less than 100 percent the last couple of months, so what’s one more?”.

So it’s going to be Buchholz in Game 4. Until it isn’t. Or it still is. Stay tuned.

WACHA WATCH

One of the stars of this year’s playoffs so far has been St. Louis starter Michael Wacha. The rookie has been outstanding, winning all three of his starts and taking home the NLCS MVP Award. In 21 postseason innings, he has allowed a total of eight hits and just one run that came in the NLDS. In that one, he won a must-win Game 4 to keep the Cardinals alive in the series. He then went on to beat Clayton Kershaw twice in the NLCS, including the pennant-clinching Game 6.

One could argue that tonight will be his biggest test yet. While he did keep his team alive in an elimination game in the NLDS, this is the World Series. It is against baseball’s best offense that just scored eight runs in a game started by his team’s ace. It is on the road in a tough ballpark. He will oppose a pitcher in John Lackey who shut down a good Tigers offense in Game 3 of the ALCS. A loss will put his team in a 2-0 hole that could prove to be insurmountable. Having to win four out of five games against these Red Sox will be extremely tough.

It’s a tall task for any pitcher, let alone a rookie making his World Series debut. Will he rise to the occasion?

CHEATING CONTROVERSY

Once again, a Red Sox pitcher finds himself the subject of an illegal substance controversy. Buchholz was accused of using a foreign substance against the Blue Jays earlier this season and, now, Jon Lester is being called out for something similar. Lester clearly had a green substance inside of his glove during the game, which he would touch with his index and middle fingers of his pitching hand. The question is, what is it?

It might be something he was using to give him extra movement on the ball. It might be a sponge to absorb some sweat from his fingers to keep the ball from slipping out of his hand. It might be pine tar that allowed him to grip the ball better. While still not technically legal, it is not an uncommon practice among pitchers, especially on cold nights. Whatever it was, chances are we’ll never know.

What we do know is that no one involved with the game has made a scene about it. MLB VP Joe Torre said there were no official complaints filed. An official MLB statement said league officials can’t conclude anything based on the video they have seen. Whatever happened in Game 1 is likely over with.

Now, we’ll have to see if the incident has any repercussions over the course of the series with Lester or any other pitcher. Cardinals minor leaguer Tyler Melling was among the first to publicly call out Lester, posting a photo on Twitter. He has since deleted it. One plausible explanation for that is that someone within the organization told him to do so. Why? Because their own pitchers use similar tactics. It is an unwritten rule of sorts that a team won’t expose another for something like a pitcher using pine tar because they, too, will then be called out by that team. If the Cardinals had believed Lester was using a substance, like vaseline, to doctor a ball, that would be one thing. But the organizational silence points to something much less sinister. And something similar to what their players do themselves.

Nothing will come of whatever did happen in Game 1, but will pitchers be a little more leery of doing it for here on out now that it has been made so public? That could be worth watching.

Click to comment

More in MLB