Cardinals contemplating how to stop Big Papi
BOSTON -- As David Ortiz is enjoying a World Series for the ages, the Cardinals are searching for a way to stop him. They have been hurt by pitching around him (Game 4) and choosing to challenge him (Game 5). So what's left to try?
"We're trying to find ways to get him out," Matt Carpenter said after the Cardinals' 3-1 loss in Game 5 on Monday night. "He's obviously swinging the bat really well. We felt like, when he got that hit [in the eighth], [Carlos] Martinez's stuff was a little harder so we could play him up the middle, and he was able to yank it through the hole. When you're going the way he's going, balls just find holes."
Ortiz is almost certainly on his way to earning Series MVP honors, and the Cards would be plenty content to hand that award over if they can hoist the Commissioner's Trophy. To do so, though, they will have to find a way to quiet him.
Through the first five games of this series, Ortiz is 11-for-15 with six RBIs and four extra-base hits. It's laughable now to think that there was even a discussion about who would play first base -- Ortiz or Mike Napoli -- when the Red Sox were without a designated hitter for three games in St. Louis.
Ortiz reached base in nine straight plate appearances -- tying a World Series record previously achieved only twice -- before being retired by Adam Wainwright in the sixth inning of Game 5. He has one-third of the Red Sox's hits in the Fall Classic and has the second-highest batting average (minimum 18 plate appearances) by any player in a single World Series.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was half-jokingly asked on Monday if he would begin fining players for throwing a strike to the Red Sox slugger.
"No fine process in place," Matheny answered. "But obviously, we're talking about a very hot hitter, who is a good hitter. And he's making it tough for us to figure out how to get him out, that's for sure."
Cards Game 6 starter Michael Wacha was stung by Ortiz in his first start of the World Series. After retiring Ortiz on a groundout and walking him in Ortiz's second plate appearance, Wacha served up a two-run homer that briefly gave Boston the lead.
How the Cardinals plan to pitch -- or pitch around -- Ortiz as the series continues is a secret they had no interest in divulging.
"I can't really tell you my plan on how I'm going to pitch him," Wacha said on a conference call Tuesday. "But, yeah, he's a great hitter. He's a tough out, that's for sure. I guess we'll see how I pitch him tomorrow."
• With his seven-inning start on Monday, Wainwright pushed his innings total this season to 276 2/3. Not only is that a career most for Wainwright, but it also surpasses the 273 1/3-innings pitched by Chris Carpenter back in 2011. Carpenter pitched 36 innings in that postseason run; Wainwright has tallied 35 this month. Both pitchers had defining complete-game performance in Game 5 of the National League Division Series.
If the Cardinals push the World Series to a seventh game, there is a chance Wainwright could be called upon for a short stint out of the bullpen.
• Matheny said that Allen Craig "felt good" a day after playing first base for the first time since Sept. 4. "That was a great response and what we wanted to hear," Matheny added.
The Cards are expected to use Craig as their designated hitter in Boston.
• Matheny said he is still considering several lineup options for Game 6 on Wednesday. Where St. Louis will bat Carlos Beltran -- second or fourth -- remains a part of that discussion. Beltran hit cleanup in Game 5; it was the first time this postseason that he did not hit from the No. 2 hole.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.