There were no super controversial calls during last night’s pivotal Game 5. There was no wacky, unprecedented walk-off win of any sort. But in a World Series that has provided us with already a ridiculous amount of storylines; we did get a couple more during Boston’s 3-1 win yesterday.
Koji Uehara tied the record for most saves in a single postseason. David Ortiz actually improved upon his .727 World Series batting average. And the Red Sox moved within one win of another world championship.
Let’s look first at the postseason Uehara is having. The former middle reliever and set up man was thrust unsuspectingly into the closer role due to a number of Boston injuries this season, and the success he’s had since then has been remarkable. Last night, he recorded the final four outs without permitting a single baserunner to reach en route to his seventh save of this postseason. That ties him with John Wetteland (Yankees, 1996), Troy Percival (Angels, 2002), Rob Nen (Giants, 2002) and Brad Lidge (Phillies, 2008) for the most every by a closer during one postseason.
Four of Uehara’s playoff saves have required him to record four or more outs. He has struck out 15 batters, and walked none thus far, putting him on pace to break Mariano Rivera’s record for most strikeouts (14) in one playoff run without issuing a single walk.
Uehara is doing all of this – emerging as a star – at 38 years old. He’s doing it with an unassuming 88-90 mph fastball. He’s doing it by pounding the strike zone and relying on a devastating split finger as his out pitch. Last night was just par for the course: strikeout, strikeout, groundout, flyout. Fifteen pitches, 11 for strikes, and yet another playoff save.
David Ortiz has led the way offensively to put Uehara in a position to get all of those saves. The DH turned first baseman in National League parks entered Monday’s game batting a ridiculous .727. That meant there was nowhere to go but down, right?
Wrong. Ortiz went 3-for-4 last night with a single, a single and an RBI double, a performance that actually INCREASED his batting average to .733. He’s a lock for MVP if Boston wins the title.
Ortiz has 11 hits for the World Series. Until he recorded his only out last night, he had reached base safely in 10 straight plate appearances. And now he too is chasing down history.
The record for most hits in a single World Series is 13, held by Bobby Richardson, Lou Brock and Marty Barrett. The record for batting average is held by Billy Hatcher, who hit .750 in 15 plate appearances for the Reds in 1990.
Game 6, a possible close-‘em-out game for the Red Sox, is scheduled to be played in Boston Wednesday night. If the Red Sox win, and Ortiz has another 3-for-4 night, he will break both records. If this thing goes seven games – the way Ortiz has been hitting – is there any way he doesn’t at least find a few more base hits for that all time record?
I have no hid my biases very well. I really don’t care for either one of these World Series participants, not as individual teams. But they’ve certainly put on an entertaining show, and for that I tip my cap.
There’s been drama. There’s been controversy. There’s been excitement. And there has been competitive baseball. And there is no telling, based on the way things have gone through five games, what we as fans are in store for next.