Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis offered 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.My favorite thing about our schedule is the opportunity to see new cities and play in new ballparks. This year the Dodgers had Baltimore, Toronto and New York on our road slate.
While the experience of playing in new parks is always special, I have yet to find a stadium to replace the emotion I felt playing in Fenway Park.
I can still remember the contrasting smells of old beer and new hot dogs as I entered the players’ entrance behind the right-field gate. Entering the first aisle I saw, I made my way down toward the field. My eyes were immediately attracted to the Green Monster standing tall in left field. It was early enough that I hopped the fence and made my way across the field to the visiting clubhouse, soaking in the atmosphere. Looking back to right field, I saw the single red seat signifying the landing spot of Ted Williams ‘final home run in his last at-bat at Fenway.
As my teammates arrived we took turns having our picture taken in front of the Monster, traveled above the wall to get a view from the newly created Green Monster seats, and played home run derby in batting practice trying to launch balls over the 37-foot wall. We acted, looked and played like tourists in the series, as the Red Sox swept the three-game set. Nonetheless, the chance to play in front of the passionate Red Sox fans and listen to them sing “Sweet Caroline” in unison was a firsthand example of playing in front of fans who truly believe they are part of the team and help determine the outcome of the game.
Even with two previous championships in the last decade, the Red Sox can now reward their fans in person. It hasn’t happened since 1918 and the city wants to celebrate to make up for lost time.
Player of the game
Shane Victorino had been held hitless through the first three games of the Series and was then forced to sit out the fourth and fifth games with lower-back tightness. The rest healed his back and cleared his head. As in the American League Championship Series, Victorino had the big hit in Game 6. It was his grand slam that knocked out the Tigers and his bases-loaded double that plated the first three runs of the game for the Red Sox. Victorino added a run-scoring single the next inning.
Michael Wacha pitched around traffic the first two innings, but the Red Sox got to him in the third. With two on and two out Wacha tried to get a fastball inside past Jonny Gomes. The ball got away and hit Gomes on the elbow. Victorino found a fastball count and hammered a ball high off the Green Monster, clearing the bases while simultaneously putting doubt in the Cardinals’ heads and confidence in a Red Sox championship.
John Lackey lived up to his status as a big-game pitcher. The right-hander concluded his outstanding Series with 62/3 solid innings, scattering nine hits and striking out five. Lackey and the entire Boston staff did a phenomenal job not allowing baseball’s best run-producing team to get the clutch hit.
The plan to pitch around a hot hitter can backfire when you aren’t able to get the hitters behind him out. The Cardinals walked David Ortiz four times, three of them intentionally, but the guys behind him drove in the runs Ortiz wasn’t given a chance to.
Allen Craig can flat-out hit. “What if?” questions are a favorite pastime of baseball and baseball fans. Similarly to Hanley Ramirez in the National League Championship Series, what if Craig had been healthy enough to play full time in the World Series?
Watching this game felt eerily similar to the Dodgers’ NLCS Game 6. We went on the road with our best pitcher on the mound confident we were headed to a Game 7. Instead the Cardinals scored early and often, energizing their crowd, and took all the wind out of our sails.
In my second attempt providing analysis for the World Series, I appreciate the forum and freedom the Los Angeles Times has given me to share my insights. I also must thank the countless baseball writers who have reached out and commented on the articles. I am continually impressed at the job done by these gifted people and have new understanding of what an unknown outcome with a deadline looming does to your stomach. I finally want to thank the fans who have sent so much positive feedback through Twitter and other avenues. To Dodgers fans who have done nothing but embrace me in my time in Los Angeles, I am so grateful and I love being your catcher.