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It's best two-out-of-three in World Series as season hurls to an end

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis offers his insights into Game 4 between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals.

October 27, 2013|By A.J. Ellis
  • Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli tugs on the beard of left fielder Jonny Gomes as he returns to the dugout after hitting a three-run home run in the sixth inning against the Cardinals on Sunday.
Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli tugs on the beard of left fielder Jonny… (Ronald Martinez / Getty…)

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis will be offering his analysis throughout the World Series. Ellis, 32, recently completed his second full season as a starter for the Dodgers by batting .333 in a National League division series against the Atlanta Braves and .316 in the NL Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Ellis is familiar with the Boston Red Sox, a team the Dodgers faced during the regular season.

Regardless if your season ends after the traditional 162-game schedule or your team is fortunate enough to advance into the playoffs, the inevitable end of the year for all players marks the annual transition from everyday working professional baseball player to a daily routine that doesn't include bullpens and batting practice.

 The breakneck pace of games, flights and hotel rooms is replaced in various ways by players. For some, it is time for hobbies such as golf and hunting. For others, a vacation to rest and recover is needed. 

BOX SCORE: Red Sox 4, Cardinals 2

For a lot of veteran players — myself included — it is time to re-assimilate into home life as a husband and father. Steak dinners and bottles of wine are replaced with mac 'n' cheese and juice boxes. Ten-day, three-city trips are exchanged for carpools to kindergarten and gymnastics.

 Although most of us, myself the most, are blessed with amazing wives who juggle the household through the summer, baseball can be hard on families. It is crucial for us as husbands and dads to hit the ground running and make up for lost time. The day after the season ended, my 5-year-old daughter asked whether I had to go to the baseball field. My answer of, "No honey, the season's over," was met with a smile and a simple, enthusiastic "Yes!" from her.

 In the next week, baseball will crown a new champion and the winning team will celebrate long into the night. But morning will come and for many of the combatants, the off-season will begin with saying "good morning" to kids who are unimpressed and aloof to their father's professional accomplishments but genuinely only excited to have a full day with dad. Baseball is important and provides for our families and loved ones, but being a parent is the most important job we will ever have. 

Player(s) of the game

 Jonny Gomes made his first hit of the World Series count with his go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth inning off Cardinals reliever Seth Maness. Gomes also had an impressive at-bat the inning before working a 10-pitch walk in a perfect characterization of the Red Sox offensive game plan. 

After the Red Sox had four-inning starts on back-to-back nights, Felix Doubront saved the Boston bullpen. He got eight huge outs in the middle of the game to bridge the game to the back of the bullpen. For a pitcher who spent the year as a starter, to throw multiple innings on back-to-back nights changed the game and made life a little easier on Manager John Farrell. 

 David Ortiz reached base in all four plate appearances, scoring two runs for the Red Sox. Ortiz is a jaw-dropping eight for 11 with four walks in the series thus far.

Turning point(s)

 Gomes' three-run homer came in an inning that started with two quick outs. Dustin Pedroia then laced a single into left field. Cardinals starter Lance Lynn wanted no part of the Boston superstar and pitched around Ortiz. Lynn was removed, setting the table for Gomes versus Maness. 

 After allowing a two-run double to Matt Holliday on a splitter in Game 3, Junichi Tazawa entered the game with two on and two out in the seventh to again face Holliday. This time he stuck with his fastball, Holliday grounded out to second and the St. Louis rally was squelched.  

Extra bases

A clearly hurting Clay Buchholz gave the Red Sox four innings to start Game 4. He was pitching without his best velocity and stuff but was able to use the kitchen sink and empty the tank in what in all likelihood will be his final appearance of the season.

Cardinals starter Lance Lynn cruised through four innings, allowing one infield hit and throwing only 50 pitches. However, Ortiz led off the fifth with a double and eventually scored the game-tying run. Lynn threw 29 pitches in the inning and looked as if all of his rhythm had disappeared.  

 A national audience is getting a long look this series at the all-around talent of Pedroia. Between the diving plays, clutch hitting and never-give-up at-bats, baseball fans are watching an undersized player plays the game as big as anyone.  

Carlos Beltran's RBI single to score the first run of the game was an example of the Cardinals' up-the-middle approach. The postseason hitting star is now a staggering eight for 10 in October with runners in scoring position.  

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