ST. LOUIS — Right fielder Shane Victorino missed his second consecutive World Series game with spasms and pain in his lower back. But manager John Farrell is hopeful that Victorino will return for Game 6 on Wednesday.
“It’s improving,” Victorino said after a 3-1 victory against the Cardinals. “We’ll see. You know I want to be in there.”
Before the game, Farrell said Victorino would be available off the bench. He was willing to start but the Red Sox did not want to take that chance.
“Didn’t want to get into a situation, not knowing how long he can go, that we’d end up losing a player. So we can use him a little bit more at our discretion in this role,” Farrell said.
“Pressed into it, probably [could] start him. But with some uncertainty there on the duration, don’t want to end up losing out on him and using somebody else who might have to pick him up.”
“Very good,” Farrell said when asked how he felt about Victorino starting Game 6.
Daniel Nava started in right field on Monday and Jonny Gomes was in left.
Doubront meets task
Lefthander Felix Doubront was reluctant to pitch out of the bullpen in late September, saying he was better suited to start. But several conversations with Farrell changed his mind. That and knowing the alternative was perhaps not being on the postseason roster at all.
Doubront adapted well. In four postseason appearances, he has allowed one run on three hits over seven innings. He was the winning pitcher in Game 4 on Sunday, allowing one run over 2⅔ innings despite pitching on consecutive days for the first time since 2011.
“He changed his mind, didn’t he?” Farrell said. “Gosh, he’s been efficient. He’s been throwing a lot of strikes. What stands out in the environment [on Saturday and Sunday] is just the poise and the comfort in which he has attacked the strike zone. It’s been something that we desperately needed.”
Lackey on track
John Lackey threw only 17 pitches in his inning of relief on Sunday and remains on track to start Game 6, Farrell said . . . Jake Peavy has allowed 10 earned runs over 12⅔ innings in three starts this postseason. But he remains in line to start a possible Game 7. “Everything points to that right now,” Farrell said . . . Clay Buchholz volunteered to pitch in relief in Game 6 if needed. The sore-armed righthander pitched four innings on Sunday, allowing one unearned run. “He’s getting ready for the next possible opportunity. By no means has he shut anything down,” Farrell said.
Lefthander Craig Breslow was a big reason the Red Sox advanced to the World Series with his strong work in the Division Series and ALCS. But his first three appearances in the World Series did not go well.
Breslow faced seven batters and six of them reached base. He allowed three hits and three runs. Of his 26 pitches, only 11 were strikes.
“A little bit tentative,” Farrell said. “I wouldn’t say it’s tentative because of a physical thing. He hasn’t really settled in against this lineup. Lack of familiarity, where he’s got that against every other American League team that he’s faced.”
Breslow did not pitch Monday and believes two days off will help him.
“I can collect myself and do some throwing and make some adjustments,” he said. “I’ve talked to the coaches and [catcher David Ross] and have some ideas.”
Lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales has not pitched since Oct. 19 in Game 6 of the ALCS, when he faced two batters and put both of them on base. The Sox at this point would likely only use him in a lopsided game.
The Red Sox have made seven errors this series and allowed three unearned runs. The Cardinals also have been sloppy.
“There’s been self-induced errors. There’s been outfield grass, the ball jumps up on a guy. There’s been some miscues,” Farrell said.
“You can’t point to youth being a reason because it’s been spread across the board. You have two teams that are going at it to the maximum abilities. I wish I could tell you it was just like a June game. It’s not.”
Thinking of home
Rookie third baseman Xander Bogaerts has several members of his family at the Series, including his twin brother Jair. In Aruba, where is he from, the World Series is big news.
“It’s hectic down there. It’s something else,” Bogaerts said. “So many people wearing my jerseys, I can’t even imagine. Everybody, they are watching the game and expecting you to do good.
“The first two games I got two strikeouts each game. Everyone was like, ‘Bogaerts, what’s going on?’ I was like, ‘Don’t panic, relax.’ It’s baseball. You have ups and downs, you’ve just got to relax and enjoy the game.”
Bogaerts has been remarkably composed during the postseason, especially for a 21-year-old. But that’s his nature.
“Am I nervous? Definitely, I’m human. I’m definitely nervous before the game,” he said. “But during the game I try to stay as calm as possible and just enjoy the moment. You don’t get here too often, so try to enjoy it and do the best you can. Try to go out there and win games and play good and try to win games.”
Jon Lester is 6-4 with a 2.11 ERA in 13 postseason appearances, 11 starts. The six wins are tied with Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez for the most in team history.
Lester is the first pitcher to throw at least 7⅔ innings in consecutive World Series starts in the same season since Greg Maddux of the Braves in 1996.
Lester also has four wins this postseason, matching the team record first set by Josh Beckett in 2007.
Lester went 16⅔ innings in the World Series before giving up a run. Only Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson had a longer streak to start his career.
Well above average
David Ortiz is 20 of 42 (.476) in World Series play, the highest average among players with at least 50 plate appearances. Ortiz has 14 RBIs in Series play, the most among active players.
In this series, Ortiz has reached base in 14 of 19 plate appearances.
Feel the breeze
When Jacoby Ellsbury struck out looking at an Adam Wainwright cut fastball to start the game, it gave the Red Sox a record 143 strikeouts in a single postseason. The San Francisco Giants set the old record over 15 games in 2010. It took the Red Sox 14 games and one inning to break it. The Sox have 156 going into Game 6, 50 in five World Series games . . . Harry Connick Jr. performed the national anthem and Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith threw out the first pitch . . . The Gold Gloves will be awarded on Tuesday. Victorino (right field), Ellsbury (center field), and Dustin Pedroia (second base) are finalists in the AL. Pedroia on Monday was named the top second baseman by The Fielding Bible . . . Red Sox infield prospects Mookie Betts and Garin Cecchini were named to the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.