The Boston Red Sox never trailed in Game 5. Jon Lester was phenomenal. David Ortiz is a hitting machine. Koji Uehara is remarkable with his disappearing splitter. And David Ross will catch every game for the rest of the series.
Manager John Farrell shuffled his starting lineup leading into a pivotal Game 5 moving Dustin Pedroia to the two spot in the absence of Shane Victorino for a second straight game. David Ortiz was batting third rather than his customary fourth. The adjustment paid off in the first inning.
For the second time in the series, Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright gave up a first inning run. Back-to-back doubles on consecutive pitches to Pedroia and Ortiz gave Boston a 1-0.
Jon Lester was in a groove early. He retired the Cardinals in order in the first. Allowed a lead-off single in the second, but got a double play from Allen Craig to end the 2nd. A clean third sent the game to the fourth.
Lester, who won his first World Series start in 2007 in shut out fashion, had not allowed a single run in his Fall Classic career. That would change in the 4th as Matt Holliday launched a solo home run to center field to tie the game 1-1. The blast by Holliday would be Lester's lone blemish in his start as he retired the next 11 batters he faced in order.
Boston's bats went quiet after their run scoring first against Wainwright. But, in the 7th, the bottom of the order ignited a rally. Xander Bogaerts started the inning with a one-out single, his second knock of the game. After a Stephen Drew walk (a GREAT at-bat), David Ross lined an 0-2 pitch down the left field line for a ground-rule double scoring Bogaerts to give the Sox a 2-1 lead. Jon Lester then bounced back to the mound for the second out. Jacoby Ellsbury, who had been held in check by Wainwright all night long, singled to center scoring Drew to make it 3-1. Ross was thrown out at home on the play, but Ellsbury came up clutch again. The hit was his 6th in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the playoffs.
Armed with a two-run lead, Lester climbed the hill in the bottom of the 7th and went through the Cardinals 3-4-5 hitters in order to record the shut-down inning he was looking for.
Lester went out for the 8th and retired the first batter he faced before allowing an opposite field double to David Freese. A fly out by Pete Kozma followed before John Farrell went to the mound to lift Lester from the game. Koji Uehara struck out pinch hitter Matt Adams on three pitches to end the inning.
The Red Sox ace finished the game having thrown 7.2 innings of one-run ball while allowing just four hits and striking out seven. He did not walk a batter while throwing just 91 pitches, 61 for strikes.
Koji was Koji in the 9th as he struck out Matt Carpenter, got Jon Jay to ground out and Matt Holliday to fly out to end the game notching a Game 5 win for Boston putting them up 3-2 in the series.
Lester earned his second World Series victory and has allowed just one run on nine hits with 15 strikeouts while walking just one. For Koji, it was his 7th save of the playoffs.
David Ortiz, AGAIN, starred on offense collecting three hits for a second straight night. He finished 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI to raise his World Series average to .733 (11-for-15, not a typo). Bogaerts finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and David Ross notched two hits including the go-ahead RBI double in the 7th. Ross also called a sensational game for Lester and is the odds on favorite to start Game 6 Wednesday night.
Speaking of Game 6...John Lackey will start against rookie Michael Wacha at 8pm at Fenway Park. Fans will have a night to rest their voices (and their minds) tonight as the two teams travel back to Boston. The last time Boston had a chance to win a World Series on their home turf was 1975 when the Sox hosted Cincinnati...Boston won Game 6 on the famed Carlton Fisk game-winning homer off the left field foul pole, but would go on to lose Game 7 the next night. The last time the Sox celebrated in Boston after winning a World Series...95 years ago when they beat the Cubs 2-1 September 11, 1918 in a game time of 1:46 (every game in that series was played in under two hours)...oh how times have changed.
Rest up...a potential World Series clinching Game 6 is in less than 48 hours!