ESPN’s Baseball Tonight Commentators Provide Insights and Predictions for World Series Game 6 – Earlier this evening, ESPN televised a pre-game edition of Baseball Tonight outside of historic Fenway Park before Game 6 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox. Karl Ravech hosted the show with Hall of Famer and analyst Barry Larkin, analysts John Kruk, Curt Schilling and reporters Buster Olney and Tim Kurkjian. Chris Berman also joined the telecast from the field with analysts Orel Hershiser and Rick Sutcliffe. During the telecast, the Baseball Tonight team offered Game 6 insights and predictions.
Schilling on John Lackey facing the St. Louis Cardinals:
When I look at the Cardinals lineup, I used to love when teams would stack left-handed heavy lineups because that meant I could throw my split and use my curveball. It is five-and-four, righty-lefty. So you have to use your curveball to the lefties, your slider to the righties. You’re going to need both and that’s kind of a challenge. Some nights you don’t have one, you don’t have two. Some nights you have all three.
Kruk on the bottom of the Cardinals lineup:
For me, if you are looking at the St. Louis Cardinals and how they can win this game, the bottom of the order has to produce. Not two or three hits from all of them – no, one big hit. When you look at their combined numbers, they are hitting .151 and none of them have driven in a run in this series. That’s a lot to ask right now if you’re the St. Louis Cardinals. You know the guys at the top of the order are going to do what they have to do. But eventually, one of these guys is going to have to come up with a big hit. Can they do it? If not, I think the Cardinals are going home.
Larkin on hitters facing Michael Wacha:
If I’m facing Michael Wacha, I’m saying – good, this is a chance for me to see him for the second time in this series. But what I think he’s been really good at is getting guys out in the zone and that is important. The second time you see him, yes – you are going to make him throw strikes. They do grind out at-bats. But his ability to get guys out in the zone with that fastball and changeup in the same plane, that’s what is impressive to me.
Schilling on the scouting report on Wacha:
There’s two things that jump out at me. I had a chance to peek at the Red Sox’ inside edge scouting report. Michael Wacha’s fastball – 91 to 98. That’s a very broad range. What that tells me is that he’s got the extra gear. The second thing, if he had qualified for the ERA title, which he didn’t, he would have thrown the third most changeups from righties to right-handed hitters in the big leagues. His changeup is kind of plate-neutral. It doesn’t matter if you hit right-handed or left-handed.
Sutcliffe on Wacha facing the Boston Red Sox:
They are asking a lot. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, David Price, Adam Wainwright – twice – could not beat the Boston Red Sox in the postseason. They are asking the 22-year old to go out and do it for the second time. But think back to what he did. The Red Sox had won nine straight World Series games before Game 2. He shut them down.
Larkin on the Red Sox lineup:
The guys in front of and behind David Ortiz are very important. Shane Victorino, at the bottom of this lineup, another speed guy. Stephen Drew, not a lot of hits but he had a huge walk in Game 5. If they can get that done again, if the bottom of this lineup can produce again, get on base, make things happen, the lineup turns over and that’s trouble.
Schilling on pitching to David Ortiz:
Here’s where this game changes tonight. Generally, when you pitch around a guy, the guy hitting in front of him has a lot to do with how you do that. To me, tonight, Dustin Pedroia has nothing to do with whether I pitch around David Ortiz unless the bases are loaded. It’s the guy behind him. Whoever is behind him is going to see me tonight because David Ortiz is going to get nothing in the strike zone to hit from me.
Schilling on Lackey’s improved reputation:
This has come a full 180 [degrees]. This guy might have been the most disliked player on this team when all the stuff went down with Bobby Valentine. And now, everybody is a John Lackey fan and rightfully so. He had Tommy John surgery, did a phenomenal job of coming back. He’s in better shape now than he’s ever been. He’s added a third pitch. He always had this curveball, but not this good. And this is where tonight’s going to be important for him against the left-handed hitters in the Cardinals lineup. This pitch has turned out to be his wipeout pitch against lefties.
Hershiser on Lackey’s approach:
In 2002, he was the rookie at 24-years old and he was the clinching pitcher. It’s been 11 years. His career in Boston has really gone up and down. But John Lackey now is a completely different pitcher. He can put you away once he gets two strikes. He’s able to have good stuff on the corners and that’s excellent. That is pitching at its finest because he’s not blowing people away at 100 mph, and he’s not throwing a split finger that’s dropping off the table. He’s making pitches. If he continues to make pitches, he’ll be the clincher in this game again tonight.
Sutcliffe on Carlos Beltran’s struggles:
The one disadvantage I see – ever since Game 1 when Carlos Beltran hit that wall bringing back the grand slam off of Big Papi, he does not have an extra base hit. There’s a concern for me right there
Hershiser on whether momentum will change:
I think right now, Mike Matheny likes the underdog role. It is a role they have to play. But I do think that momentum will change. The moment the Cardinals’ offense breaks out, that’s when it will change for the St. Louis Cardinals.