ST. LOUIS -- Lefty Craig Breslow was Mr. Reliable for the Red Sox in the American League Division Series and the AL Championship Series, producing seven straight scoreless appearances. But in the World Series, he has come undone a bit, retiring just one batter in his three outings.
Breslow, who normally has excellent control, also has two walks while giving up a hit in all three appearances.
Any reason why there has been such a drop in the lefty's performance?
"Maybe a little bit tentative," said manager John Farrell. "I don't want to say it's tentative because of a physical thing. He just hasn't really settled in against this lineup.
"[Perhaps] lack of familiarity, where he's got that against every other American League team he's faced. I thought two nights ago, he gets the check swing [hit], ends up in a spot, if that inning unfolds a little bit differently, who knows? It might right the ship a little bit for him. He left a pitch up last night to [Matt] Carpenter last night, and like I said, I thought he got a little bit too fine to [Carlos] Beltran."
Breslow admits that perhaps he has been too tentative.
"I need to be aggressive and throw the ball over the plate," the lefty wrote in his blog on WEEI.com. "I didn't do that in Game 4. Fortunately, Junichi Tazawa was able to pick me up, as did our team's clutch hitting, big pitches and far-reaching contributions, which included John Lackey doing a great job in an unfamiliar role in the eighth inning.
"At this point of the postseason, I feel like I have some work to do to get back to where I need to be. There's not a specific adjustment to make so much as a need to catch my breath and get back to what has worked for six months. It's not always easy, as these games can magnify problems given that the amplitude is increased, but with all of that in mind, I'm getting called upon to do a job and I didn't do it."
Pedroia, Ortiz move up in lineup with Victorino out
ST. LOUIS -- The Red Sox will again go to battle without Shane Victorino in Game 5 of the World Series as the right fielder continues to deal with an ailing back.
In addition, manager John Farrell made some tweaks to his lineup, moving Dustin Pedroia up to the No. 2 spot, where Victorino, who is available off the bench, usually hits. David Ortiz will bat third, meaning that the red-hot slugger will be up one spot sooner in his attempt to continue to torment the Cardinals.
"[Victorino's] available off the bench, but we didn't want to get into a situation, not knowing how long he could go, that we'd end up losing a player," said Farrell. "We can use him a little more at our discretion that way."
Ortiz is 8-for-11, with four walks and a 2.114 OPS, in the World Series.
"I feel like we need to lengthen out the lineup behind David a little bit more than maybe we've been doing," Farrell said.
Jonny Gomes, who hit the big three-run homer in Game 4, will bat cleanup and play left field. Gomes was a last-minute addition to the lineup in place of Victorino on Sunday.
Daniel Nava will again patrol right field and bat fifth. Nava batted second in Game 4.
David Ross will start for the second straight game behind the plate, and for the third time in the Series.
With an off-day on Tuesday, there would seem to be a strong chance Victorino could return to the lineup for Game 6.
"Yes," Farrell said. "Very good chance."
Buchholz not shutting down quite yet
ST. LOUIS -- Even if Clay Buchholz went out there with diminished stuff for Game 4 of the World Series, he still kept the Red Sox in a game that they eventually won, 4-2.
In fact, Buchholz plans on being ready to pitch again in this Fall Classic should his services be needed out of the bullpen.
Though he has been dealing with shoulder fatigue, Buchholz knows that, like all of his teammates, he will soon have weeks to rest up.
"He's already offered," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "So yes, he would be available. Based on the way he came out of last night, he even said it to me, 'I'll be in here tomorrow getting ready for the next possible opportunity'. But by no means has he shut anything down mentally or physically."
Buchholz's fastball was generally in the high 80s. That's not to say he couldn't add some more velocity in situations if he needed it.
"Even after the second inning, he came in and said, 'I haven't even tried to throw the ball hard yet', and he goes, 'I don't know that I'm going to.' I said, 'Well, based on what's happened, you don't need to. Just keep the ball down, like you're doing.'" said Farrell. "You know what? The guy's got such a feel to manipulate the baseball that even if he's lacking a weapon in power, he can make up for it with other ways. His cutter and his two-seamer were very effective last night."
The Red Sox pinch-hit for Buchholz in the fifth inning in Game 4, so he threw just 66 pitches.
Peavy in pencil for Game 7; Doubront lurking
BOSTON -- If the World Series goes to Game 7, will Jake Peavy start for the Red Sox?
"Everything points to that right now," said manager John Farrell.
Asked in another interview setting a few minutes later, Farrell said, "As of now, yes, that's the way we're lined up."
In other words, things could change. After putting together a strong performance in Game 4 of the American League Division Series against the Rays, Peavy wasn't sharp against the Tigers in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series or the Cardinals in Game 3 of the World Series.
Meanwhile, Felix Doubront, a starter for the Red Sox for almost the entire season, has re-emerged in the postseason, posting a 1.29 ERA in four relief outings. In the World Series, the Cardinals have mustered just two hits against him in 4 2/3 innings.
Even if Doubront didn't start Game 7, it seems logical that he could play a major role if he isn't taxed in Game 6. Doubront, after pitching the last two nights, will only pitch in an emergency in Game 5.
"Everybody's going to be available for Game 7," said Farrell. "We haven't gotten to a point of saying, 'You know what? Let's hold [Doubront] out as a potential starter.'"
Red Sox defense has been spotty in World Series
BOSTON -- The one consolation for the Red Sox in their defense underperforming in the World Series is that the Cardinals have had the same problem.
Boston manager John Farrell has talked all season about how important it is to take care of the ball. But his players haven't done it as well as they've wanted to in this Fall Classic, making seven errors in the first four games.
The Red Sox made two errors in their 4-2 victory in Game 4, including one on a routine ground ball single to Jacoby Ellsbury that allowed the Cardinals to take an extra base that led to a run.
"There's been self-induced errors, there has been outfield grass where 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've got two teams that are going at it to their maximum abilities."
Farrell thinks that the Ellsbury error was a fluky one.
"They just replaced the grass here six weeks ago after a football game. And it's fast, it's not true," Farrell said. "And the ball jumped up last night on one of those seams, on the turf."
The Sox also made two errors in their loss in Game 3, including one by Ellsbury and the obstruction call by Will Middlebrooks that lost the game. For all the talk about obstruction on Middlebrooks, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia didn't make a good throw on that play.
"I wish I could tell you it's just like a June game, but it's not," Farrell said. "I can't say it's mental fatigue. I mean, how can you not be up in this environment? I think two teams realize that we're very comparable in outcomes, abilities, all that. It's just two teams getting after it."
The pivotal play that led to the Game 2 loss by the Red Sox featured two errors on one play -- by Saltalamacchia and pitcher Craig Breslow.
There was just one error in Game 1, an easy 8-1 win for the Sox.