ST. LOUIS — You think Joe Kelly has been loose this month? The Cardinals pitcher was a viral sensation with his 12-minute staredown of Los Angeles’ Scott Van Slyke after the national anthem prior to Game Six of the NLCS.
And how does he prepare for starts like tonight’s outing in Game Three of the World Series?
“To tell you the truth, I don’t really like to lock in and focus on my start until the day of,” Kelly explained here Friday. “Like the night before, I usually stay up playing video games all night, competitive gaming, more ‘Call of Duty.’
“You don’t want to put too much emphasis and just mentally drain yourself of thinking, ‘Man, this is a huge start’ and you have to go out there and perform. That’s not the way to go about it. But game day comes around, I’m definitely going to be locked in and ready to go.”
Kelly, 25, went 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA for the Cardinals this season but is 0-1, 4.40 in three postseason starts this year.
He did not win in two starts in the NLCS and has been given added rest for this outing. Kelly is a free-spirited Californian known for keeping his clubhouse loose.
He talked Friday about people able to windmill dunk a basketball from a standing start – before adding sheepishly, “I don’t think the GM wants to hear that.”
And he’s serious about his video games, giving an open discussion Friday to a room full of international media that probably had only a handful of people that have ever touched an XBox controller.
“It just relaxes me. It helps me not to think about anything else except for going out and competing,” Kelly said. “And I like to play competitive gaming, so actual matches and play with other professional players that I’ve met off Twitter and stuff like that.
“It’s dating back to all the way since the original ‘Halo.’ I don’t know if you know much about that. I’m more a first-person shooter guy. It’s another way that I can get out there and just relax and compete at a different level.”
Taking the mound for the Red Sox will be Jake Peavy (12-5), who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on July 30.
All signs continue to point to Boston using Clay Buchholz in Game Four.
He missed three months with shoulder trouble and struggled in the ALCS against Detroit but has been given extra rest.
“He went through a throwing program today, went back to about a hundred feet with some increased intensity along the way,” manager John Farrell said Friday. “And he’s starting Sunday.”
Meanwhile, Cards manager Mike Matheny said he will not be bringing back ace Adam Wainwright on short rest in Game Four since it can no longer be a clinching situation.
Lance Lynn will pitch regardless of who wins tonight and Wainwright will go in Game Five.
The Cardinals were happy to have Allen Craig back in their lineup after he was out more than six weeks but he’s likely not going to start tonight.
Craig, a 97-RBI man during the regular season, was 2 for 7 in Boston.
“We’re not pushing this too hard and too fast,” Matheny said. “We’re very excited about what we’re seeing with him at the plate and that’s the main thing. And obviously having the ability to throw him into the DH spot in Boston was what we were hoping for.
“Defensively we’ll take whatever we can get. Every day is another step.”
Matheny said the Cards will be cautious using Craig in the field so he doesn’t take a step backwards with his foot.
They want to be able to have him this weekend as a pinch hitter and for a potential Game Six and Seven next week in Boston.
The Cardinals’ youth movement on the mound in Game Two entered some pretty uncharted waters in Series history.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Cardinals are just the second team ever to win a World Series game with a starter aged 23 or younger getting the win and a reliever 23 or younger getting the save.
The ’69 Mets did it in Game Three against Baltimore with starter Gary Gentry (23) and reliever Nolan Ryan (22).
The Cardinals also used 22-year-old Carlos Martinez on Thursday, making them just the second team to use three pitchers 23 or younger.
It was done by the Atlanta Braves in their Game Three win over the Minnesota Twins in 1991 as Steve Avery (21), Kent Mercker (23) and Mark Wohlers (21) all pitched.