EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 24, 2013

Now, the Cardinals will bring the heat

By Christopher Smith
csmith@eagletribune.com

---- — BOSTON — All Cardinals pitchers throw heat, right?

“Everyone except (Adam) Wainwright,” pitcher Lance Lynn told The Eagle-Tribune before the World Series began. “He gets funny jokes about it.”

Wainwright, who started here at Fenway Park last night in Game 1 of the Fall Classic, usually uses his strong command and sinker to retire batters. His fastball isn’t overwhelming. It averaged 91.1 mph this year and has averaged 90.6 mph throughout his major league career.

The right-hander didn’t pitch well yesterday in Boston’s 8-1 victory. Several of his curveballs were crushed by Boston hitters. Wainwright allowed five runs, three earned, on six hits and one walk while striking out four.

Yesterday certainly was a nice change of pace for Boston who struggled against Detroit’s hard throwing right-handed starters throughout the American League Championship Series.

But watch out ...

St. Louis’ Games 2, 3 and 4 starters — like the Tigers — bring the heat.

Michael Wacha will start today for St. Louis opposite John Lackey. Wacha’s fastball averaged 93.5 mph this year. Game 3 starter Joe Kelly’s fastball averaged 94.9 mph. Game 4 starter Lynn’s fastball averaged 92.4.

How does the velocity of the St. Louis starters compare to the fireballers from Detroit?

Here’s the average fastball velocities this year of the four Tigers starters that threw against Boston in the ALCS: Anibal Sanchez (93.0), Max Scherzer (93.3), Justin Verlander (93.3) and Doug Fister (88.8).

Wacha and Kelly, although they didn’t make as many starts as any Detroit pitcher, averaged better velocity than any Tigers starter.

“They’re impressive,” Cards veteran pitcher Jake Westbrook said about Wacha and Kelly. “They’ve really impressed me this year just how they’ve handled themselves. And for me, at their age, it was so overwhelming. They’ve handled themselves surprisingly well in the big leagues in general not to mention this huge stage they are on (in the postseason). It’s been fun to watch.”

Salute to the skippers

Want a couple of facts about Red Sox manager John Farrell and Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny, each of whom are managing in their first World Series?

OK, here we go ...

We’ll start with Farrell. He played on the same Cleveland Indians team in 1988 with Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington, San Diego Padres manager Bud Black and Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona. Also, Charlie Manuel was the hitting coach of that team. Manuel went on to manage the Indians and Phillies.

“Must have been something in Lake Erie,” Farrell said. “At the time, I can remember having conversations with Black in the outfield during BP, and there was always a thought of remaining in the game.

“One thing I can say about all five people, and even though Charlie was a hitting instructor at the time, it’s just the care and respect for the game that you love,” Farrell added.

Now we’ll move to Matheny. The Cardinals manager was a four-time Gold Glove catcher, winning one less than Cardinals current catcher Yadier Molina.

Matheny threw out more than 40 percent of base stealers twice during his career. Molina has done it eight times.

Look of lineup

Right-handed hitting Jonny Gomes started in left field against the right-handed Wainwright, while switch-hitter Daniel Nava who batted .322 average against right-handers (seventh in the AL this year) was on the bench. It appears that Gomes will start again today in Game 2 against Wacha. But Nava likely will start Games 3 and 4 against Kelly and Lynn.

“With Wainwright and Wacha, there’s not the pronounced left‑right splits as there might be with Lynn and Kelly,” Farrell said. “Jonny has done an excellent job in the time that he started, evident by the way that we’ve performed by a team, but I can’t single him out as the reason why. He plays left field extremely well here.

“Keeping Daniel Nava involved will be there. And with more ground to cover in St. Louis, that will be something that will be factored in with the lineup over there, in addition to the right‑handers we’ll face there. At the same time Daniel Nava, as we sat down and talked a couple of times and given my thoughts and rationale behind some of the decisions, he’s on board and very much a team player.”

What was that?

Stephen Drew began the second inning with an infield single, which should have been an easy out. It was a pop up that landed between Wainwright and Molina right near the mound.

Yes, pitchers typically back away and let their fielders take charge. But come on Wainwright! That pop up wasn’t high. Wainwright was in the best position of anyone on the field to make the catch and he is at fault for that one.

Is this October or July?

In the midst of the World Series excitement happened around Fenway Park yesterday, GM Ben Cherington pulled off a minor trade.

Cherington and the Red Sox acquired outfielder Alex Castellanos from the Dodgers for minor league outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker and cash considerations.

The 27-year-old Castellanos batted .167 with the Dodgers this past season. He has batted .288 with a .362 on-base percentage, .502 slugging percentage and .864 OPS in 615 minor league games.

The 26-year-old Hazelbaker batted .257/.313/.374/.687 in 121 games for Pawtucket this year.

RHP Pedro Beato was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Castellanos.

Follow Christopher Smith on Twitter @SmittyOnMLB