World Series Game 3 Preview

hi-res-185383452-koji-uehara-of-the-boston-red-sox-celebrates-after_crop_northBOSTON RED SOX (105-69) at ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (105-70) Line & Total: St. Louis -111 & 7.5 under -115

With the World Series tied at one game apiece, the Cardinals return home to St. Louis on Saturday night where the Red Sox enter as slight favorites to regain the series lead.

After the Boston bats came alive in Game 1 with eight runs, St. Louis rookie Michael Wacha shut down the Red Sox and the Cardinals scored late to win 4-2 and even the series. Jake Peavy (12-6, 4.40 ERA) takes the mound for Boston in Game 3, having struggled lately with a 7.98 ERA in his past three starts. In his last start against the Tigers on Oct. 16, he gave up seven earned runs in just three innings. He’ll face another young Cardinals pitcher in 25-year-old Joe Kelly (9-4, 2.53 ERA), who is also coming off a rough outing, giving up four earned in five innings to the Dodgers in his last time out on Oct. 16. The next three games of the series will be played in St. Louis, where the Cardinals racked up a 59-28 record (.678) this season. Although Boston was one of baseball’s best on the road with a 47-39 mark (.547) away from Fenway Park.

Peavy (1.17 WHIP) was slightly better once he was traded from the White Sox to Boston this season, going 4-1 with a 4.04 ERA in 10 regular season starts. His last outing was ugly though, and that is indicative of his struggles on the road in 2013. He is 5-6 (team 7-9) with a 5.56 ERA and 1.30 WHIP on the road in 2013. If he actually pitches well in this one, it would be pretty out of character considering how terribly he has pitched in October in his career. In addition to his 8.31 ERA in two starts this postseason, he has a career 0-3 record in four playoff starts with a 10.31 ERA and 1.96 WHIP. He’s given up three long balls in those four starts and walked seven while only striking out nine. Two of those starts came against St. Louis back in 2006 when he was shelled for 13 runs on 19 hits over 9.2 innings. Peavy has plenty of experience against the Cardinals in his career with mixed results, going 3-6 (team 5-6) with a 4.28 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. The only recent one of those was last year, when he pitched quite well, giving up one run on four hits in seven innings despite earning the loss. The one guy Peavy really has to watch out for is OF Carlos Beltran, who is 8-for-20 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and a 1.280 OPS in his career against Peavy. If Peavy ultimately does struggle again, manager John Farrell should have no qualms turning to his bullpen that has a 3.34 ERA this season with a 1.21 WHIP. Red Sox relievers have shined brightest during this postseason with their collective 1.00 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 36 innings.

Kelly (1.35 WHIP) has pitched well this season despite his penchant for giving up too many base runners, walking 40 batters in 103.1 innings while striking out only 59. He also gave up 99 hits, explaining the high WHIP, but his team is 12-6 in his 18 starts. A concern for him may be that he pitched slightly worse at Busch Stadium with a 3.16 ERA and 1.44 WHIP there, but the Cardinals were 7-2 in those nine starts. Still, he has been a great addition to this rotation after spending much of the year coming out of the bullpen for manager Mike Matheny. He has never started against the Red Sox, but it looks like he’ll see the core of the Boston lineup with usual DH David Ortiz set to play first base. That’s big for Boston with Ortiz going 4-for-6 with two homers and 5 RBI so far this World Series. And if things don’t go well for Kelly (5.7 innings per start in 2013), the St. Louis bullpen has a 3.34 ERA and 1.21 WHIP this season, so that should give him some relief. Cardinals relievers have been outstanding in the postseason as well with a 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and .169 opponents’ BA with 33 K’s and just eight walks over 36 innings.

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