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Blue Jays wrap up sweep at Fenway, call up Hendriks from Bisons to start Friday vs. Oakland

By Mike Harrington

The Toronto Blue Jays are alone in first place after wrapping up a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park with a 7-2 win early Thursday evening.  Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista homered on back-to-back pitches in the first inning off Jon Lester and that was all Mark Buehrle needed to become MLB's first eight-game winner.

After the game, the Jays announced they have called up red-hot Buffalo Bisons starter Liam Hendriks and will give him the start Friday night in the series opener against the Oakland Athletics in Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays want to separate Buehrle from knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and will put their No. 5 slot in between them, instead of going to Hendriks Saturday. 

Hendriks (5-0, 1.48 in nine games/seven starts) is second in the International League in ERA, tied for second in wins and has an IL-leading 0.80 WHIP. He has walked just three batters in 48 2/3 innings.

The game will mark the start of a stretch where the Jays will have 16 of their next 19 games at home. So far, at least, that hasn't been a good thing for teams in the AL East. Toronto is just 10-11 in Rogers Centre and no East club is over .500. The Red Sox, in fact, endured an 0-6 homestand for the first time since 1994 and are 10-17 in Fenway -- the second-most home losses in baseball.

Starting pitching woes contribute mightily to AL East's struggles

By Mike Harrington

So why is everyone in the AL East pretty much mediocre and only Toronto (at plus-4) owning a positive run differential? It's mostly because of starting pitching.

Check out the numbers below for the starters on the five teams: 

Team W-L , ERA (AL rank)
BOS 11-12, 3.83 (5)
TOR 12-9, 4.19 (7)
NYY 13-11, 4.36 (10)
BAL 10-12, 4.46 (11)
TB 9-11, 4.48 (12)

Check out the standings heading into tonight's games:

BAL 16-14
NYY 17-15
TOR 16-17
BOS 16-17
TBR 15-18

Not what anyone expected. The Rays and Orioles meet again tonight at Tampa Bay, while the Blue Jays and Phillies switch sites and move to Rogers Center, and the Yankees wrap up a three-gamer in Anaheim before opening a toughie Friday night in Milwaukee.

 

Manager of the Year awards go today -- Farrell and Who?

By Mike Harrington

The BBWAA Awards continue tonight at 6 on MLB Network with the announcement of the Managers of the Year. (Go to this link after the vote to see all the ballots)

In the American League, the heavy favorite would appear to be Boston's John Farrell -- although I remind you the vote is taken before the postseason. Still, going from last place to 97 wins should get Farrell the nod over Cleveland's Terry Francona and Oakland's Bob Melvin.

You would think Pittsburgh's Clint Hurdle is a similar heavy favorite in the National League, although Atlanta's Fredi Gonzalez and Los Angeles' Don Mattingly both won their divisions and Hurdle's Pirates were the NL wild-card. Still, I would have voted for Hurdle for leading the Bucs to October after 20 straight losing seasons. That should be an interesting vote.

What are your thoughts? Vote in our polls.

 

Jeter re-signs for a raise -- but Yankees have a good reason

By Mike Harrington

Now that we're in the post-World Series period, the action should be coming fast and furious with teams making decisions on their free agents, their manager and their rosters in general. Teams have a five-day window to chat with their own, and players can then shop their services starting Tuesday.

(Remember, Bud Selig & Co. frown on any of this news taking away attention from the Fall Classic, so teams are told to stuff a sock in it until the Series is decided).

An unusual story came out of New York today with the announcement the Yankees have signed Derek Jeter to a one-year, $12 million contract -- even though he had a player option for next year for just $9.5 million. So what gives? Simple. If Jeter exercised his option, the Yankees would be charged roughly $15.5 million toward their payroll ceiling that figures luxury tax payments.

They want to avoid the tax and get under a $189 million payroll and paying Jeter $12 million actually saves them $3.5 million (and perhaps many millions more in taxes) while giving their longtime shortstop an extra $2.5 million inn his pocket.

No one knows if this will be Jeter's farewell tour, ala Mariano Rivera. But he played just 17 games this season, totaling 73 plate appearances in the wake of his broken ankle suffered in the 2012 ALCS against the Tigers. It was far and away the most frustrating season of what had been a brilliant career.

Jeter turns 40 on June 26. (Yes, Derek Jeter turns 40. We're all getting old.) Can he really be considered an everyday shortstop anymore? The Yankees need him for PR value for sure and they're probably curious if he'll be able to put together a huge bounceback season. That said, the deal makes sense for them. It's not just let's give a 40-year-old a raise even though he basically didn't play last season.

Meanwhile, the most interesting managerial candidate to watch is Red Sox bench coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Torey Lovullo, who should now be talking to the Cubs, Tigers and Mariners with the season complete.

I chatted with Lovullo last week in St. Louis and you if you missed my Inside Baseball column on him in Sunday's editions, click here to double-back on his story.  Lovullo managed in Pawtucket while working under current Cubs GM Theo Epstein and broke into the big leagues with the Tigers, who are definitely interested as well. Taking over a playoff team with a legendary manager like Jim Leyland figures to be a tough task. As a first-time manager, Lovullo might be better suited with a rebuild like the Cubs.

The Boston papers celebrate

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- Here's how Thursday's Boston Globe and Boston Herald portrayed the World Series triumph of the Red Sox. (Images from Newseum.org)
---------------------------------------------

Globe sports

Herald

Game 6 podcast: Red Sox put a wrap on a remarkable journey

Farrell-Ortiz
John Farrell and David Ortiz celebrate a World Series title (AP Photo).


By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- The Red Sox were 69-93 last year and no one in baseball thought they were that bad. It was common knowledge what a horrible job Bobby Valentine did in his one year as manager and the plain fact was they were dealing with injuries, big ones to the likes of David Ortiz, Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia among others.

Everyone also knew they had a poisonous clubhouse filled with questionable characters (sorry to all you fans of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez). They cleaned those guys out late last season and sent their contracts packing with them.

They brought in role players, guys who are winners on the field and characters in the clubhouse. And they became the ultimate winners with Wednesday's 6-1 victory over the Cardinals in Game Six at Fenway Park. This was Mike Napoli's second World Series appearance. Ditto for Jonny Gomes. It was Shane Victorino's third and his second title. That has to mean something.

No one knew how this team would mesh, although I found them loose and happy when I visited with new manager John Farrell and new bench coach Torey Lovullo during a spring game in Dunedin, Fla. in March. And they played that way all season.

Three titles in 10 years. Almost unthinkable to the denizens of Red Sox Nation, who lived through decades of stunning failure. Now they've won more than any MLB team this century. Weird how life can change.

Click the file below to hear my final thoughts.

Mike Harrington on Game Six

Ever since Fisk, Game Six has provided incredible memories

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- I only need to think back two years for how crazy Game Six of the World Series can be. Remember that one? Rangers-Cardinals in St. Louis.

Texas is a strike away from winning in the ninth, only to see David Freese's two-run triple to right over a braincramped Nelson Cruz tie the game. The Rangers take a 9-7 lead in the 10th on Josh Hamilton's home run but the Cardinals, again down to their last strike, tie it again on Lance Berkman's single. Then they win it in the 11th on a Freese home run on to the Busch Stadium grass berm in center.

(I think I wrote about eight stories that night, constantly changing the narrative. I collected myself enough the next day heading into Game Seven to summarize things with this story.).

Game6pageIn these parts, of course, everyone is looking back at Game Six in 1975, the last time a Series got this deep at Fenway. As I blogged this morning, '75 Game Six hero Carlton Fisk is throwing the first pitch tonight. The 7-6, 12-inning win over Cincinnati on Fisk's home run off the foul pole is the time-tested classic for a World Series game.

Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons described the moment this way in the Boston Globe the next morning:  

"And all of a sudden the ball was there, like the Mystic River Bridge, suspended out in the black of the morning.

"When it finally crashed off the mesh attached to the left-field foul pole, one step after another the reaction unfurled: from Carlton Fisk's convulsive leap to [my note: organist] John Kiley's booming of the "Hallelujah Chorus'' to the wearing off of numbness to the outcry that echoed across the cold New England morning.

  Carlton Fisk

"At 12:34 a.m., in the 12th inning, Fisk's histrionic home run brought a 7-6 end to a game that will be the pride of historians in the year 2525, a game won and lost what seemed like a dozen times, and a game that brings back summertime one more day. For the seventh game of the World Series."

Talk about some incredible column writing in the dead of night. That line about the Mystic River Bridge still resonates here in New England as one of the most famous ever written in a sports section. A framed copy of that page is on the wall about 10 feet to my left (above left) here in the Fenway press room.

For whatever reason, '75 seemed to spark a run of incredible stuff in Game Six of the World Series Consider:

1977--Reggie Jackson's three home runs.
1980--Tug McGraw saves the Phillies' first Series clincher ever.
1985--The Donn Denkinger call at first base saves the Cardinals and costs the Royals.
1986--Buckner. If you need an explanation, you're on the wrong blog.
1991--Kirby Puckett climbs the Metrodome plexiglass for a great catch and hits the game-winning homer in the 11th as the Twins beat the Braves.
1992--Dave Winfield's double in the 11th snaps a tie and the sends the Blue Jays past the Braves for their first title.
1993--Joe Carter Touches 'Em All. See 1986 points above if you don't know.
2002--Spurred on by the Rally Monkey, the Angels wipe out a 5-0 deficit and beat the Giants, 6-5.
2003--A 23-year-old rookie named Josh Beckett pitches a 2-0 shutout at old Yankee Stadium as the Marlins clinch their second title.

Here's MLB.com's look at some great Game Six moments involving the Sox and Cardinals:

'75 Game Six hero Fisk, Tiant to throw ceremonial pitches tonight

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- Tonight will be the first Game Six of a World Series in Fenway Park since the famous 1975 matchup with the Cincinnati Reds that ended on Carlton Fisk's 12th-inning home run.

MLB has just announced Fisk will be at Fenway to see the Red Sox try to win the Series here for first time since 1918, and will join former Sox ace Luis Tiant in throwing ceremonial first pitches. Tiant threw a five-hit shutout at the Reds in Game One in 1975 and was the starter in Game Six.

For more on the Boston bid to win at home for the first time in 95 years, be sure to read my column in today's editions.

In addition, MLB has confirmed the popular local punk rock band the Dropkick Muphys will perform the national anthem and their popular "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" ditty (shown below after the Fisk video)

Calm before a 95-year storm at Fenway as Red Sox look to clinch

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- A relatively quiet day at the World Series today, but things will be anything but quiet tomorrow night in Fenway Park.

In the chilly October air, the Red Sox worked out Tuesday night on the eve of what could be their first Series clincher in the Fens since 1918. They lead the St. Louis Cardinals, three games to two, heading into Game Six and the No. 1 topic of conversation was clearly how crazy Sox fans will be with a chance to see something basically no one alive in these parts has ever witnessed. (Remember, the Sox won their title in 2004 at old Busch Stadium and their 2007 crown at Denver's Coors Field).

'I'm sure it's going to be an incredible atmosphere here tomorrow night," said manager John Farrell. "So if we happen to be able to share it with them, that would be great. But we've got to take care of business first"

It will be John Lackey on the mound for Boston against St. Louis rookie Michael Wacha. Lackey won Game Seven for Anaheim as a rookie in 2002 against San Francisco but this is the Red Sox. At Fenway Park. Not the same.

"The fans are going to be crazy," he said. But you've still got to focus on the task at hand and executing"

The Cardinals, meanwhile, were still stuck on the runway in St. Louis as of 5:30 Eastern time. Manager Mike Matheny and Wacha did their off-day media conferences via a cell phone held by an MLB PR official and projected into a microphone.

"We're fortunate that our club allows our families to travel with us," Matheny said. "We have some younger kids but I'm impressed with how everybody has handled it. Fortunately we have plenty of food, snacks for the kids, lots of entertainment with on-board movies, and everybody travels with all their high-tech stuff. Most of these kids are pretty happy that they're not in school right now, and it's a great way to spend a day, and no complaints so far."

Still, Matheny said at the time they had been on the plane for more than two hours and were waiting for that plane to be fixed or a new one to be brought before making the flight here.  Not the best situation the day before a huge game.

Wacha said it wouldn't really impact his preparation as he was simply staying at the hotel anyway today. Wacha survived a buzzsaw with the PNC Park crowd in Pittsburgh when the Cardinals were down, 2-1, in the division series and hopes to do likewise tomorrow.

"I imagine it's going to be crazy, but I'm not going to pay any attention to it," said Wacha. "I'll keep going about my business the way I have been in all my starts this year."

In lineup notes, Farrell said David Ross will catch and Shane Victorino should be good to go again in the outfield after sitting out Sunday's game with a bad back. The Cardinals may drop Carlos Beltran back to the cleanup slot in the order and Matheny said Allen Craig is good to go as the DH here after tweaking his injured foot Saturday on his game-ending slide home.

Red Sox owner Henry on buying Boston Globe: 'I'm in this to make a difference, just like most of the people I have met in journalism'

Globe
The front page of today's Boston Globe (Newseum.org)
By Mike Harrington

 

ST. LOUIS -- Red Sox owner John Henry wrapped up his purchase of the Boston Globe in the last few days and penned a fascinating column in Sunday's paper for his motivations behind it. 

In the hours leading to Game Five of the World Series, it's well worth your time to click that link and read the column if you want to step away from sports for a few minutes.

Skeptics may sneer, of course, but Henry didn't buy the Globe to commandeer any negative coverage of the Red Sox. It's going to be a tough conflict for those reporters, much like Cubs writers struggled for many years with the perception that they were an arm for the parent Chicago Tribune when it owned the team. Henry has made it clear from the beginning he's not influencing sports coverage but the proof will be in the pudding as they say. Or at least in the fried chicken and beer!

Henry said he believes in newspapers, and especially the Globe, as institutions. And nowhere can that be seen more in time of crisis, as the Globe spearheaded the flow of information in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.

It reminds me of the way The News covered the crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence Center in 2009 and has spent the ensuing years with reams of important coverage on changes to rules in the commuter airline industry.

What struck me the most about Henry's column was this sentence: "As I studied the problems that beset the newspaper industry, I discovered a maddening irony: The Boston Globe, through the paper and its website, had more readers than at any time in its history."

That's probably true of a lot of papers and it's certainly true of The News. Print circulation may be down some, not nearly as much as other cities, but the total consumption of our information in print and online is vastly higher -- yes, I said higher -- than it was years ago. 

I get bombarded on Twitter all the time with the cliche of "newspapers are dying" so let me get a soapbox point out: It's not true. At all. They're changing. We have more information on more platforms -- print, audio, video -- than ever before. I used to come to the World Series as recently as 2006 and do nothing more than write one or two stories a day for the newspaper.

Now there's multiple stories for the paper, a wrapup story for the Web, blogs like this one, a postgame podcast, Flickr streams, my Twitter feed and even Vines. The company gets more production from its employees and ultimately the readers get much more content from an event like this than the days of a lone columnist penning one piece a day.

As for all those people -- especially the under-30 crowd -- who say they "get their news" on Twitter or Facebook and the media isn't needed? Where do a huge amount of those links come from?

Newspapers. 

Soapbox over. Game Five coming up later tonight.

An even World Series heads to a pivotal swing game

Koji
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara gets mobbed by teammates after the first game-ending pickoff in World Series history closed Game Four (AP Photo).

 

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS --  Big Papi spoke, his teammates listened and Jonny Gomes acted. Out here in the land of no Lindys and no Vaneks, there's your capsule summary of Game Four of the World Series on Sunday night as the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-2, to knot the series at two wins apiece.

I bet there's plenty of high-level police meetings going on this morning in Beantown in the wake of that one.

Why? We're assured of handing out the World Series trophy at Fenway Park for the first time since the 1975 Reds won it there in Game Seven. And as for the Red Sox, they haven't won one at home since 1918. Can't even imagine the chaos we might see, especially if they win it on Halloween in Game Seven on Thursday night.

The teams will be chatting prior to Game Five tonight at Busch starting at 4 p.m. Eastern time.

If you didn't catch up last night or this morning, here are the links to our coverage of Game Four:

----The main Web-exclusive game story: Gomes' three-run homer a few minutes after David Ortiz's dugout seance gave the Red Sox a huge win.

---Game Four podcast: Click the link to hear my audio thoughts in the wake of Game Four.

---Game Three redux: The Red Sox needed to, ahem, obstruct the part of their memory banks that brought them back to the bizarre finish from Saturday night. And they did.

---All in the Middlebrooks family: The controversial obstruction call had one very interested observer in new UB softball assistant coach Lacey Middlebrooks, the sister of Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Red Sox Farrell in wake of call that ended Game 3: 'It wasn't a normal night of sleep'

Farrell
John Farrell can't believe what umpire Dana DeMuth is telling him about the decisive play Saturday night (Getty Images).


By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- There were plenty of questions for Red Sox manager John Farrell at his pregame briefing with the media tonight in the wake of the bizarre finish to Game Three of the World Series. As there should have been.

(Be sure to double back and read my Web-only story on the game, complete with comments from both clubhouses).

Things went completely haywire for the Red Sox in the ninth inning, long before the interference call on Will Middlebrooks that provided an all-time ending that veteran New York Post scribe Joel Sherman dubbed "The Immaculate Obstruction" in today's editions.

Here's a quick rundown of some of the things Farrell said:

On dealing with the call: 'It wasn't a normal night of sleep, I know that. You review the whole game. You replay it in your mind. You learn from the experiences you go through. I'm sure there's a number of our guys in our uniform that our probably doing the same thing."

On the call at third base: "The call was made correctly. ... If there was the ability to have some measure in that portion of judgment on intent. Right now there is none. It doesn't matter on intent or not. When Will Middlebrooks is lying on his stomach, it's hard to say he was intending to impede that runner's progress. The way the obstruction rule is set up right now, the baserunner can be the agressor and beneficiary on both sides. They can seek out an infielder, run into him and benefit by advancing." 

On pitching to John Jay in the ninth rather than having Koji Uehara walk him and face light-hitting Pete Kozma with the bases loaded: "To walk the bases loaded and back Koji in a corner where he has no room to maneuver inside a given at-bat? Didn't want to do it."

(My take: That's crazy. Uehara has issued nine walks in 84 innings this year counting the postseason. Had to walk Jay)

On today's pen: Uehara, Craig Breslow and Uehara are all available tonight. Even John Lackey can throw an inning.

Game Five starter Jon Lester also met the media and had some insight on the clubhouse mood. The clubhouses, remember, are closed before the game during the postseason so there's no real way to get any second-day reaction.

"I think today everyone was fine.  I think last night, that's not how you want to end a World Series game," Lester said. "I think some guys were probably shocked, confused, a lot of different emotions going on.  But there's nothing we can do to change it.  So we have to move forward to today and focus on today.  And if we let that affect us in the clubhouse today and during that game, then we've already been beat."

Regarding tonight's lineups, long after meeting the media, Farrell scratched Shane Victorino due to lower back tightness and put Jonny Gomes in left while moving Daniel Nava to right. No explanation as of yet. Here's the lineups:

Boston
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Daniel Nava RF Shane Victorino RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz 1B
Jonny Gomes LF Daniel Nava LF
Xander Bogaerts 3B
Stephen Drew SS
David Ross C
Clay Buchholz P

St. Louis
Matt Carpenter 2B
Carlos Beltran RF
Matt Holliday LF
Matt Adams 1B
Yadier Molina C
John Jay CF
David Freese 3B
David Descalso SS
Lance Lynn P

Video: The decisive play and the umps speak

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- If you missed all the craziness at the end of Game Three of the World Series Saturday night, you can read all about it in my story at this link. That story is largely the words and thoughts of the principals involved.

I'm on the side that the umpires got it right, making the correct call with conviction at a key time. You can hear more in my postgame audio podcast that was posted early morning at this link.

To get the full impact, you should watch the play below. Even Joe Buck has a delayed reaction making the call not fully knowing what's going on in the instant the play happened.

 

The umpires' press conference with Joe Torre is well worth your time. (From left) Dana DeMuth, Jim Joyce and John Hirschbeck did a great job explaining lots of issues that many of you brought up to me on Twitter after the game Saturday. Really worth a look.

Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe does a great job going over all the goofy decisions John Farrell made late in this one as well as the dilemmas the Red Sox manager is facing with his lineup moving forward.

Game Three podcast: One of the most bizarre finishes in postseason history

Obst
The decisive moment: Allen Craig and Will MIddlebrooks get tangled up at third base. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo via AP)


By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- In the history of baseball, no postseason game had ever ended on an obstruction call. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the only game in history that had ended that way was a non-descript Tampa Bay-Seattle game in 2004.

Until Saturday night.

The Cardinals beat the Boston Red Sox, 5-4, as Allen Craig scored the winning run on an interference call on Will Middlebrooks at third.

Click here for my Web-only complete wrapup featuring comments from both clubhouses. (The game ended about five minutes before our print deadline, so the Final edition has a full report with no quotes).

Also in Sunday's editions:

The Batavia Connection -- Nine Cardinals played their Class A ball at tiny Dwyer Stadium in Genesee County.

Lovullo's next step could come soon -- The Red Sox bench coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer gets the leadoff role in my Inside Baseball column as he is a hot managerial candidate when the series is over.

Buchholz will give it his all tonight -- The Red Sox first-half ace has one more chance to get the job done this season and Boston desperately needs him in Game Four.

And finally, click the file below for my audio thoughts on the bizarre finish. I say the umpires got it right and good for them for having the conviction to make the call.

Mike Harrington on the wild finish

Pregame ponderings: Red Sox thinking about Napoli at third?

Pregame
Biggest question I get at World Series: Where's your seat? Here's The News view in St. Louis for Games 3-4-5.


By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- Pretty interesting sight here during batting practice at Busch Stadium. Boston first baseman Mike Napoli, not in tonight's lineup because the Sox have no DH in the National League park and are using red-hot David Ortiz at first, took groundballs at third base. 

There's no change in tonight's lineup (rookie Xander Bogaerts is at third) but if Boston's offense continues to struggle, manager John Farrell may have no choice tomorrow in Game Four. Particularly if the Red Sox lose tonight. Still, Napoli has played just one pro game there -- in 2002 in the Class A Midwest League. That would be quite a risk.

In other pregame news, Farrell reaffirmed that Clay Buchholz will start tomorrow night even in the face of his lingering shoulder issues. Buchholz also said he's ready to go -- but also admitted he's not 100 percent. So he bears watching tomorrow.

It's Jake Peavy vs. Joe Kelly tonight at 8:07 on FOX. I'll have my live thoughts here starting at 8.

Here's the lineups:

Boston
Ellsbury, cf
Victorino, rf
Pedroia, 2b
Ortiz, 1b
Nava, lf
Bogaerts, 3b
Saltalamacchia, c
Drew, ss
Peavy, p 

St. Louis
MCarpenter, 2b
Beltran, rf
Holliday, lf
Adams, 1b
Molina, c
Freese, 3b
Jay, cf
Kozma, ss
Kelly, p 

A scene-setter for Game Three and a chance to cast your vote on the DH dilemma

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- Greetings from the neighborhood of the Arch as we get set for Game Three tonight in Busch Stadium. First, a weather update: It's bright and sunny this afternoon with temperatures near 60. They will slip into the 40s tonight but there's basically no chance of rain.

Cardinals great Willie McGee will throw a ceremonial first pitch tonight while Colbie Caillat will sing the national anthem. Former Cardinal greats Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith and Red Schoendienst will also be introduced to the crowd and there will be a pregame video tribute to Stan Musial, who died Jan. 19 at age 92. Click here to read the incredible obituary on Musial written the next day by Hall of Fame St. Louis Post-Dispatch scribe Rick Hummel

The place went wild when I was here in 2006 and 2011 when Musial was introduced. Two years ago with his health failing, it was one of the alltime great Series moments to see the crowd erupt as Musial was driven around the diamond.

The Red Sox will be playing with no DH tonight, so David Ortiz will be at first base and Mike Napoli will sit. That was the topic of my column in today's Buffalo News, which is already generating plenty of email and Twitter replies. Now you have your chance to vote here: Should they keep the DH the way it is in the World Series or go all-in?

Ortiz set to go at first base and a look at plenty of World Series coverage coming in Sunday's paper

Papi
David Ortiz in a rare spot: Fielding grounders Friday in St. Louis (AP photo)

By Mike Harrington

ST. LOUIS -- It's all systems go for David Ortiz to play first base Saturday night in Game Three of the World Series. The Boston designated hitter took ground balls Friday night in Busch Stadium and, with no DH in the National League park, will put his glove on to stay in the lineup.

"Whatever they need me for," Ortiz said as he was swarmed by reporters in the dugout. "We'll see how the situation goes, see how it feels and go from there."

Manager John Farrell would not commit to Ortiz past Game Three and said hot-hitting Mike Napoli will start Saturday on the bench

"We haven't had to use it as much with the number of days off and strictly American League rules," Farrell said of his reserves. "But even if we have to defend for David late with Mike Napoli, we've got much more flexibility, obviously, with an added guy on the bench."

Be sure to read more about Ortiz and the lineup changes forced upon the Red Sox by the lack of a DH in Saturday's paper.

And be sure to pick up Sunday's editions for plenty more from the Series:

---In addition to the actual coverage of Game Three, my Inside Baseball column will feature a chat with Red Sox bench coach and Buffalo Baseball Hall of Famer Torey Lovullo. The baseball lifer is relishing his first trip to the Fall Classic and said it really hit home when he was on the Fenway Park foul line during introductions before Game One Wednesday night.

"It's fairly surreal and you can't describe it until you're out there," Lovullo told me today as we chatted in the tunnel leading to the Red Sox clubhouse. "The [military] planes fly over and you understand exactly what's happening. It's the end of the season, the last two teams standing. This is what you dream about when you're 12 years old and you're sitting in your bedroom thinking about the World Series. It's a pretty special moment I've waited a long time for."

---I'll also have a look back with several members of the Cardinals who started their professional careers in Class A ball with the Batavia Muckdogs of the New York-Penn League. The preferred methods of transportation to Dwyer Stadium for some of them? Bikes provided by Batavia residents who annually house the players for the summer.

Torey Lovullo. The Muckdogs of the Cardinals. And Game Three of the World Series. Only in Sunday's Buffalo News.

Pregame chatter: Nothing on Lester's glove, Beltran's ribs OK

Fensign
It was bright and sunny today prior to Game Two. The temperatures will be in the 40s tonight.

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- The biggest pregame chatter at Fenway Park today was about what was -- or wasn't -- on the glove of Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester during Game One. The Big Lead and Deadspin both ran today with a tweet from Cardinals Class A pitcher Tyler Melling that accused Lester of having vasoline on his glove and video seemed to show some sort of green goo.

(It reminds us Series regulars about the Kenny Rogers pine tar scandal in Game Two in Detroit in 2006).

"If you know Jon Lester he sweats like a pig and he needs rosin," Boston manager John Farrell said during his daily media briefing. "He keeps it in in his glove. Other guys will keep it on their arm, other guys will keep it on their pant leg. That's my response to the allegations. The one thing that's very odd is that it shows up in a lime green color. I don't know how that can happen."

"It was just rosin. All I ever used, all I will use," Lester said during batting practice. And about the green color?  "I don't know what that is. It looks like a giant booger."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was understandably uncomfortable with the topic. After all, if his team starts pulling this kind of stuff, nothing stopping the Red Sox from turning the tables.

"This was not instigated by us. And the way that we approach this is we just play the game," Matheny said. "We don't deny that some things have been acknowledged. And if that's what he claims, then that's what it is. That's all there is to it. And right now it's pretty much a dead issue.

"... If we started going down that path, we would just be trying to make excuses for a pitcher having a very good game against us and us not getting the job done. And that's not the kind of team we are."

In other news:

---The Cardinals were waiting on their lineup because they don't know the status of Carlos Beltran's injured ribs. But after he took batting practice, he was back there. Meanwhile, Pete Kozma was pulled from shortstop after his two errors in Game One and has been replaced by Daniel Descalso.

---Farrell confirmed Clay Buchholz will start in Game Four and that either David Ortiz or Mike Napoli will have to sit in St. Louis without the designated hitter. 

---During the game, look for a tribute to Boston Marathon bombing victims and an on-field presentation to retiring Yankees closer Mariano Rivera with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award. Rivera will be holding a press conference here in the 7 p.m. hour. He's the 12th player to receive the award, the first since Ken Griffey Jr., in 2011.

---There will be ceremonial first pitches thrown by members of the 2004 Series champion Red Sox, notably Pedro Martinez, and the national anthem will be sung by James Taylor. He will also be doing "America the Beautiful" in the seventh-inning stretch, a departure from the normal "God Bless America."

(Whether you like his music or not, Taylor will be awesome. I was in the park early this afternoon and heard his rehearsal. Great stuff).

I'll be having my live comments here in a separate post starting at 8 p.m. I'll even throw you a changeup: We'll also open the floor for comments during the fourth and fifth innings.

Game 1 podcast: All goes right for Sox, all goes wrong for Cards

Papi-petey
David Ortiz (right) gives it up to Dustin Pedroia after Boston's 8-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of the World Series. (AP Photo).

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- Click below to hear my thoughts on the 8-1 thrashing the Red Sox handed the St. Louis Cardinals in Game One of the World Series Wednesday night in Fenway Park.

The Cardinals didn't make any plays defensively, didn't get the key pitches they needed to from Adam Wainwright, had a correct umpire's decision go against them and didn't score a run until the ninth inning.

Other than that, everything was fine.

It really is fine for New England's Olde Towne Team. The Red Sox made it nine straight in the World Series and have scored 10 runs in the first inning of Game One in their last three trips to the Fall Classic. That's called getting off to a good start and it's hard to beat. They go for a 2-0 lead here Thursday night.

Mike Harrington on Game One

Game One lineups and pregame news from Fenway

By Mike Harrington

BOSTON -- The lineups are in for Game One of the World Series and they read as follows:

St. Louis
Matt Carpenter, 2b
Carlos Beltran, rf
Matt Hollidahy, lf
Allen Craig, dh
Yadier Molina, c
David Freese, 3b
Matt Adams, 1b
Shane Robinson, cf
Pete Kozma, ss
---
Adam Wainwright, p

Boston
Jacoby Ellsbury, cf
Shane Victorino, rf
Dustin Pedroia, 2b
David Ortiz, dh
Mike Napoli, 1b
Jonny Gomes, lf
Xander Bogaerts, 3b
Stephen Drew, ss
David Ross, c
---
Jon Lester, p 

With no games yet under their belts in this series, not a lot of pregame chatter. The biggest news was when Red Sox manager John Farrell said Clay Buchholz will pitch this weekend in St. Louis in either Game Three of Four. Buchholz has struggled with his velocity in the postseason and rumors have been rampant here the Sox may replace him with Felix Doubront, especially when Doubront threw an unscheduled simulated game at Fenway Tuesday night.

Buchholz missed three months with a shoulder injury and was taken out of a start last week against Detroit after just 85 pitches. He's struggled with his command and has worked at an ever-increasing slow pace on the mound.

I'll be giving my thoughts on Game One during our live blog/Twitter collection. That will get started at 8 p.m.

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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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