MLB.com Columnist

Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Lester, Papi a dynamic duo

MLB Notebook: Lester, Papi a dynamic duo

MLB Notebook: Lester, Papi a dynamic duo

By the time the book closed on Early Wynn's day in Game 1 of the 1959 World Series, the White Sox right-hander was in line for a relatively easy victory. Having thrown seven shutout innings and been supported by a two-homer, five-RBI effort from his cleanup hitter Ted Kluszewski, Wynn -- after some first-inning drama -- sailed through much of the remainder of the game and Chicago breezed to an 11-0 win over the Dodgers.

Thirty-one years later, the Reds -- in Game 1 of the 1990 World Series -- enjoyed similar results from their starting pitcher (Jose Rijo, with seven scoreless innings) and cleanup hitter (Eric Davis, with a home run and three RBIs) and cruised to a 7-0 win over the A's.

It's not a bad combination to help elevate a team's chances to capture a World Series contest. Just ask Boston's tandem of Jon Lester and David Ortiz.

Lester locks down Redbirds
The Red Sox tallied five runs through the first two innings, the Cardinals finished with more errors than runs, and Boston defeated St. Louis, 8-1. Lester picked up the win, allowing five hits and a walk and notching eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 scoreless innings.

Lester was the seventh Red Sox starter to win a World Series opener, and he was the fourth of the seven to do it while not allowing any runs. In 1918, Babe Ruth threw a six-hit shutout and beat the Cubs, 1-0; in 1975, Luis Tiant threw a five-hit shutout and beat the Reds, 6-0; and in 1986, Bruce Hurst threw eight scoreless and beat the Mets, 1-0.

Lester was the 17th pitcher in World Series history -- and first since Rijo in 1990 -- to have a Game 1 start that ended with at least seven innings and no runs allowed. Lester is one of five southpaws on the list, joining the Red Sox's Ruth ('18), the Yankees' Whitey Ford ('61), the Brewers' Mike Caldwell ('82) and Boston's Hurst ('86).

Among the 17 pitchers to finish a Game 1 start with at least seven scoreless innings, Lester's eight strikeouts tied him with Hurst (1986) for third. Cardinals right-hander Bob Gibson fanned 17 in a five-hit shutout in '68, and the Yankees' Allie Reynolds threw a two-hit shutout and struck out nine Dodgers in '49.

Lester's line produced a Game Score (an equation used to measure a pitcher's dominance) of 76, making him the 35th starter to produce a score that high in a Game 1. The highest Game Score for the opener of a Fall Classic was Gibson's 93 in 1968, while the highest for the Red Sox was a 78, shared by Ruth ('18), Tiant ('75) and Hurst ('86).

Lester, who picked up the win in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series with 5 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, has now opened his World Series career with 13 1/3 innings without allowing a run.

Papi's postseason legend grows
Batting cleanup, David Ortiz went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a single, a two-run home run, a sac fly and three RBIs.

Ortiz climbed up a number of career postseason leaderboards, moving into:

• Sole possession of 10th place in runs scored, with 46

• Eighth place in total bases, with 149

• A tie with Carlos Beltran for eighth in home runs, with 16

• A tie with Albert Pujols for fourth in extra-base hits, with 37. Ortiz also has 57 RBIs, leaving him four behind Derek Jeter for the fourth most.

Cleaning up in Game 1
David Ortiz was the ninth player to collect three RBIs from the No. 4 spot in the lineup in a World Series opener, and he's the only player to accomplish the feat twice.
Player Team Year RBIs
Home Run Baker Athletics 1913 3
Al Simmons Athletics 1931 3
Riggs Stephenson Cubs 1932 3
Mel Ott Giants 1933 3
Ted Kluszewski White Sox 1959 5
Bake McBride Phillies 1980 3
Willie Aikens Royals 1980 4
Eric Davis Reds 1990 3
David Ortiz Red Sox 2004 4
David Ortiz Red Sox 2013 3

There have been 39 three-RBI games by a player in a World Series Game 1. Ortiz - who also drove in four runs in Game 1 in 2004 against the Cardinals -- is the first player in World Series history to have multiple World Series openers with at least three RBIs.

Among the 39 times a player had a three-RBI Game 1, Ortiz's performance Wednesday was one of 10 to come from the cleanup spot in the lineup. Those 10 are the most for any position in the batting order, with the seventh slot producing six such games and the sixth slot contributing five such performances.

With first baseman Mike Napoli (batting fifth) also driving in three runs, Wednesday night marked the fourth Game 1 in which a team had multiple three-RBI players. The others: The Braves' Andruw Jones had five RBIs and Chipper Jones drove in three in 1996; the Yankees' Tino Martinez drove in four and Chuck Knoblauch had three RBIs in the '98 World Series opener; and the Giants' Freddy Sanchez and Juan Uribe each had three RBIs in 2010.

Eight is usually enough
The 2013 Red Sox are one of 23 teams to have scored at least eight runs in a World Series Game 1. The first 17 occurred between 1908-2001. In the past 10 years, there have six teams to do it: both the Red Sox and Cardinals in an 11-9 Boston win in 2004, the Red Sox in '07, the Giants in '10 and '12 and Boston on Wednesday.

Of the first 22 teams to have at least eight runs in a Game 1, 15 have gone on to claim the title, while seven have come up short:

• World Series winners: 1908 Cubs, '19 Reds, '32 Yankees, '34 Cardinals, '37 Yankees, '53 Yankees, '64 Cardinals, '87 Twins, '93 Blue Jays, '98 Yankees, 2001 D-backs, '04 Red Sox, '07 Red Sox, '10 Giants and '12 Giants.

• World Series losers: 1945 Cubs, '59 White Sox, '65 Twins, '78 Dodgers, '82 Brewers, '96 Braves, and 2004 Cardinals.

Here and there
• At 21 years and 22 days old, Boston third baseman Xander Bogaerts became the 11th-youngest player to start a World Series Game 1, and the youngest since Miguel Cabrera started in left field for the Marlins in 2003 at age 20 and 183 days. Giants third baseman Freddie Lindstrom, at 18 years and 318 days for Game 1 of the 1924 World Series, was the youngest.

• Dating back to their Game 1 win in 2004, the Red Sox have won nine straight World Series contests. The winning streak ties them for the fourth longest behind 14 straight by the Yankees from 1996-2000, 12 in a row by the Yankees from 1927-32 and 10 in a row by the Bronx Bombers from '37-41. The Reds also won nine straight Fall Classic games between '75-90.

• Boston improved to 9-3 in the first game of a World Series, and it has won each of its past five openers (1975, '86, 2004, '07, '13). St. Louis fell to 7-12 in World Series Games 1's.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.