Varitek sparks another fast start for Red Sox
Posted: Monday October 25, 2004 12:02AM; Updated: Monday October 25, 2004 1:23AM
The thick-legged catcher drove in two runs with a rare triple to stake Boston to an early lead for the second consecutive game and help the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-2 Sunday night for a 2-0 lead in the World Series.
"You've got to set the table for the big guys," said Manny Ramirez, an MVP candidate who walked and scored on Varitek's triple. "Anybody on this team can be a hero on any day."
The Red Sox also pounced on St. Louis' Game 1 starter Woody Williams on Saturday, scoring four in the first and taking a 7-2 lead after three innings before the Cardinals tied it. Williams and Game 2 starter Matt Morris have allowed 11 earned runs in 6 2/3 innings, an ERA of 8.15.
On Sunday, Morris pitched around Boston sluggers Ramirez and David Ortiz in the first, walking them both with two outs. That made sense: Ortiz was the MVP of the AL championship series and hit a first-inning homer off Williams in Game 1; Ramirez, who might win the regular-season MVP, had three hits on Saturday.
"We try to make sure that they have to pitch to those two guys," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who put Varitek fifth in the order, behind Ortiz. Varitek didn't start Game 1 so Doug Mirabelli could catch knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
"The way they are approaching David Ortiz, I don't blame them," Francona said. "They don't want him to beat them, and with Varitek ... swinging the bat like that gives us an added dimension, another weapon in the middle of that order."
With Boston's two sluggers on base, Varitek made the Cardinals pay. He hit a 1-2 pitch off the bullpen fence to the right of the 420-foot sign in Fenway's quirky triangle and kept running, pumping his fist when he popped up at third.
It was the ninth triple of Varitek's career, and the first for the Red Sox in the postseason since Jim Rice hit one in Game 5 against the New York Mets in 1986. It was the first World Series triple for a catcher since the Yankees' Joe Girardi hit one in Game 6 of 1996.
But Varitek's biggest contribution could be in the way he brings stability to the pitching staff.
"He's been every bit the leader he was all season," starter Curt Schilling said. "Jason is a guy that I feed off him when I'm out there. I know he's putting down the fingers he believes in. I know he's got an idea, every time, every pitch, every at-bat.
"He's absolutely as much a part of everything that I've done this year as anybody on this team."
The Red Sox made it 4-1 in the fourth when Kevin Millar was hit by a pitch and -- again with two outs -- Bill Mueller and Mark Bellhorn hit consecutive doubles. Morris got Johnny Damon on a groundout to end the inning but he left after getting one out in the fifth.
With two outs in the sixth, Orlando Cabrera singled in two more runs to make it 6-1.
"He gives up four runs on two swings with two outs," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of Morris. "He walked the third- and fourth-place hitters, both guys are dangerous [but he] just barely walked him."