ST. LOUIS — Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino did not play in Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday night because of lower back tightness. His status for Game on Monday and beyond is uncertain.
“He felt it stiffen up [Saturday] night. We tried to get him through it today but it’s not happening,” manager John Farrell said. “It’s similar to what he had during the season at times.”
Victorino missed parts of five games during the regular season because of back issues. He was on the disabled list from May 21 to June 8 because of hamstring and back woes.
Victorino took some swings in the batting cage and told Farrell he would find a way to play. But that wasn’t the case.
“As we went through the other work, it became obvious he wasn’t capable,” Farrell said.
Daniel Nava moved from left field to right field and hit second in place of Victorino. Jonny Gomes was put in the lineup in left field. The Sox won the game, 4-2, thanks to a three-run homer by Gomes in the sixth inning. Gomes also drew two walks.
Farrell, after reviewing Saturday’s night’s game-deciding obstruction call, agrees that the umpires got it right. But he would like to see the rule changed to reflect the intent of the fielder.
When catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw the ball to third base trying to get Cardinals runner Allen Craig, Will Middlebrooks had nowhere to go after he sprawled on the dirt trying to catch the throw from Saltalamacchia. Middlebrooks was not trying to obstruct Craig.
“The call was accurate . . . there needs to have some area in [the rule] for intent,” Farrell said. “In that play, there’s no way Will can get out of the way. It’s more the rule that I have some issue with, not the call itself. They made the call as the rule suggests and calls for. But to say there can’t be some room for intent there? Will wasn’t trying to hold the guy down.
“Not just because we lost a World Series game based on the call, but I think if you look at it, it gives the opportunity for the base runner to be the aggressor and take advantage of it.”
Farrell would like obstruction to become a judgment call for the umpires.
“You’d like to think that in situations like this, where a guy falls down going for a ball, he’s not trying to hold the runner down,” Farrell said.
Commissioner Bud Selig said he thought the umpires handled the call correctly and that the Red Sox registered no complaint.
“If we have issues, it’s something that will be discussed during the offseason,” Selig said.
A few regrets
Farrell regretted the lineup mismanagement that resulted in rookie pitcher Brandon Workman batting in the ninth inning of a 4-4 game. Workman struck out.
Farrell admitted he should have double-switched in the seventh inning and hit Workman seventh in the order in place of Saltalamacchia, who made the final out of that inning.
That would have put backup catcher David Ross into the lineup.
“The move, the double-switch, was the one that was missed,” Farrell said.
But Farrell also jabbed at his critics.
“What I find unknowing is if any other position player is in that spot, is it a guarantee of a home run, which some people think is a given?” he said.
After Workman batted, he faced only two batters in the ninth before Koji Uehara came in.
“I was looking at getting three innings combined out of Workman and Koji. In a tie game, even on the road, I’m not reluctant to use the closer, obviously. Felt like those were our best two relievers,” Farrell said. “I wasn’t going to pinch hit because there was still a need to get three innings out of [Workman and Uehara].”
The complexities of the game had Farrell rethinking everything that happened.
“I didn’t sleep worth a damn last night,” he said.
Lefthander Jon Lester is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA in four starts this postseason. He will be back on the mound for Game 5 on Monday night. Lester threw 7⅔ scoreless innings in Game 1.
Lester’s gem was somewhat overshadowed by accusations from a St. Louis minor leaguer, Tyler Melling, that he was doctoring the ball with a substance in his glove. Lester admitted to using rosin on his hands because he sweats so much.
Major League Baseball found no violation and the Cardinals were quick to say the same. Lester says it’s forgotten as far as he is concerned.
If anything, he got a kick out of people discussing how much he sweats.
“I think we’ve covered that pretty well over the past couple of days. I’ve gotten a lot of crap from my friends and my wife on that one,” he said.
“But I’m sure there’s going to be focus on my glove and focus on my hands and what I’m doing, but I’ve got to worry about the Cardinals. If I’m worried about what people are looking at, I’m worried about the wrong things. I’m going to go out and pitch my game.”
Lester has a 2.22 ERA in 12 career postseason games. He attributes that to learning from veteran players like Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, and Mike Timlin at a young age.
“I think really helped me develop that,” he said. “Things don’t change, you just have to go out there. Obviously your emotions, your adrenaline, you’re playing for tomorrow, that changes. But when you get on that mound and you get past the first couple of pitches and you get kind of those jitters out of you and you start to settle in, that’s when it’s just baseball.
“We’ve got to execute all the way across the board all night to beat these guys. And they have to do the same thing . . . Comes down to pitch to pitch and when the ball is put in play, we’ve got to make plays.”
Farrell said Lester’s ability to perform in October is a tribute to the pitcher’s work ethic.
“His physical strength and endurance is unique and he can maintain his stuff this deep into a season,” the manager said. “I think the one thing that we all recognize is that the power stuff wins in the postseason. He’s got it. He maintains it.
“Yet in addition to his physical strengths, there’s a level of concentration that he’s capable of maintaining that gives him the ability to execute consistently over the time he’s on the mound. And those two things combined gives him the career performance he’s had in the postseason.”
On the run
Pinch runner Quintin Berry stole second in the eighth inning. He is 3 for 3 in steals this postseason and 5 for 5 in his postseason career . . . The Red Sox have struck out 142 times in the postseason, matching the 2010 San Francisco Giants for the most in a single postseason . . . Gomes donated his bat and batting gloves from the home run to representatives from the Hall of Fame . . . Farrell said David Ross would start again at catcher on Monday.
The Red Sox had first baseman Mike Napoli take grounders at third base on Saturday and Sunday. But Farrell said that Napoli would play third only in the event of a double-switch late in a game . . . Hall of Famer Bob Gibson threw out the first pitch and Rascal Flatts, a country group, performed the national anthem . . . Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera and Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt were named the Hank Aaron Award winners for being the top offensive performers in each league. Cabrera was at Busch Stadium to accept the award. Goldschmidt was traveling to Australia on a promotional trip for baseball . . . Fox had a 7.4 rating and 14 share nationally for Game 3. It was the network’s highest-rated prime-time show on a Saturday since January.
This year’s World Series is the fourth between the Red Sox and Cardinals. Perhaps the most dramatic change in the 68 years since the first meeting has been the lengths of the games. A year-by-year comparison:
|Year||Game 1||Game 2||Game 3||Game 4||Game 5||Game 6||Game 7||Result|
|2004||4:00||3:20||2:58||3:14||—||—||—||Red Sox, 4-0|
* — 10 inningsPeter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.