The World Series MVP Tracker: Game 2

The World Series MVP Tracker: Game 2
October 25, 2013, 1:45 pm
Share This Post

For about 15 minutes, David Ortiz had hit one of the most legendary home runs in a career chalk full of them. A two-run blast off Michael Wacha to give Boston a 2-1 advantage, and leave the Sox nine outs from a commanding World Series lead.

But then a few unfortunate things happened. Actually, more than a few:

First, David Freese walked with one out in the seventh. John Jay singled, moving Freese to second. Then, Craig Breslow replaced John Lackey, Pete Kozma replaced Freese and Daniel Descalso walked to load the bases.

Next, Matt Carpenter hit a fly ball to Jonny Gomes in left. Gomes' throw got away from Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Kozma scored. Breslow picked up the ball, threw it into the leftfield grandstand and Jay scored. Finally, Carlos Beltran singled in Descalso.

That gave St. Louis a 4-2 lead, and thanks to the Cardinals bullpen, that’s how it ended.

And just like that, Ortiz’s heroics ceased to exist. His two-run blast went from the cover of the Sox Championship DVD to face down on the cutting room floor. From a play that Boston would never forget to one that’s already been forgotten. But if there’s one bright side to that lost piece of World Series history, it’s that Ortiz’s home run was enough to keep him atop the standings in CSNNE’s award-winning World Series MVP Tracker . . .

OK, so maybe there’s no bright side.

Either way, here’s an updated look at the race for World Series MVP (with each player’s original odds in parenthesis):

1. Ortiz (8/1): He’s 4-6 with three runs, two homers and five RBI. He’s hands down the most dominant player on either side and has emerged from the 1-1 tie to stand atop the MVP Tracker.

But here’s the question: Can the Sox really afford to sit him in St. Louis?

At the very least, he’ll play first in Game 3, and I imagine the situation will remain fluid from there on out. If the Sox win Game 3, then maybe they consider sitting him for Game 4. If they win Game 3 AND 4, then maybe they consider sitting him for Game 5. But if they Sox lose on Saturday, can Farrell really sit Ortiz with a 3-1 deficit staring him in the face? Or if the Sox split the next two games, and it’s 2-2 heading into Game 5, can Farrell even consider leaving Ortiz on the bench? He can’t. And he won’t.

Tough break for Mike Napoli.

2. Carlos Beltran (9/1): The Cardinals scored one run on an RBI groundout, and two more on a sac fly followed by an error. In other words, Beltran’s seventh inning single was the team’s only base hit RBI. Combine that with the already powerful narrative of “Beltran as a career postseason hero in search of his first ring” that was made even stronger with him coming back from his rib injury, and Beltran is the leader in St. Louis’ clubhouse.

By the way, while no one in Boston would have minded if Beltran’s rib injury had knocked him out for the series (or even just a game or two), it’s ultimately nice to see that he’s healthy enough to play. He waited a long time for this shot, and deserves a chance to take it.

3. Matt Holliday (12/1): With Ortiz so clearly leading the charge among Red Sox players, there are more Cardinals in the running, and Holliday is next on the list. He had two hits in Game 1 (including a meaningless home run that won’t look so meaningless on his final resume). Last night, he hit the triple that led to the Cardinals first run.

One thing to watch: You know Holliday has at least one outfield error coming in this series. At least one. What it is, when it happens and the level of devastation left in its path will have a lot to say about his MVP chances.

4. Yadier Molina (12/1): Have you ever seen Jacoby Ellsbury more timid on the base paths than he’s been these last two games? He stood on first after last night’s third inning single and never even considered stealing second. That’s all Molina. He’s rendered the stolen base useless. He also knocked in the Cardinals first run. And you know he’ll be in the middle of whatever insanity unfolds next.

5. Jon Lester (16/1): Far and away the most dominant start of the four we’ve seen so far, and Vaseline be-damned, that leaves him as the No. 1 pitcher on the Tracker.

Obviously, he’ll need the Sox to win for him to win. And if the Sox win, he’ll be up against Papi Factor. Still, Game 5 is set up, like it often is, to be the biggest, most pivotal game of this series, leaving Lester and chance to deliver a series-altering, MVP-deserving performance.

6. Michael Wacha (10/1): Wacha was great last night; every bit as good as advertised. But let’s not forget that he left the game as the losing pitcher of record. Only the whacky seventh inning (and, I guess, his solid six innings that preceded it) propelled Wacha to the win. But in the end, he did get the win. And that keeps him alive for MVP honors, assuming (but not hoping) that he has one more in him.

7. Trevor Rosenthal (20/1): He and Koji both saw the mound last night, but Rosenthal’s was the only closer appearance that really meant something. And his delivered a Koji-level of dominance: Gomes struck out looking on four pitches. Salty struck out looking on three pitches. Daniel Nava struck on swinging on four pitches.

In the end, Rosenthal earned the save, and if the series stays close, he’ll be in line to build off that and maybe even walk away as the most unlikely series MVP.

8. Dustin Pedroia (17/2): He led off the fourth with a double off the monster; at a time when Wacha was really starting to get in a groove. He walked with one out in the sixth, and came around on Ortiz’s blast. He continues to play great defense in the field.

Pedroia’s not dominating by any means, but he’s hovering. He’s heating up. More than any other time in these playoffs, you get the sense that if Pedroia get the opportunity to make a lasting impact, he’ll step up and do just that.

9. Adam Wainwright (14/1): Still giving him a shot based on potential starts in Game 4 and Game 7.

1,000. Stephen Drew: The defense has been solid, but nothing that really exceeds that of an average major league shortstop. Meanwhile, at the plate he’s been reminiscent of an average eighth grade softball player. He’s now 4-42 in the playoffs. He’s one for his last 35. And that one wasn’t even a real hit; it was a pop up to the pitcher’s mound.

Come on, John Farrell. You can do it. At least try it. Just once. One game.

Bogaerts at shortstop. Middlebrooks back at third.

Then the real MVP will be you.

See you after Game 3.

Follow me on Twitter: @rich_levine