Lester, baby, Lester. The left-handed pitcher was brilliant in Game 1 with a little help from his batting friends. He allowed no runs on five hits and posted eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings of the World Series opener – only the fourth pitcher in series history to post those impressive numbers. If he had any butterflies, fans would never know it. He worked both sides of the plate effectively and took advantage of an uncharacteristically shaky St. Louis Cardinals team. On the other side, ace Adam Wainwright allowed five runs in five innings. The Sox worked him hard (he threw 61 pitches in the first two innings) after tough errors kept him on the mound longer than he should have been.
The Cardinals and Boston Red Sox entered the series with the exact same record of 97-65; both were at the top of their respective conferences and both have won two series titles within the past ten years. The numbers add up to what should be a tough fight, but the first night display wasn’t normal for St. Louis.
The Cardinals made many mistakes. Big mistakes. They almost got away with one critical error as an umpire called Dustin Pedroia out at 2nd following a Matt Carpenter soft toss to Pete Kozma. Boston Manager John Farrell bolted out of the dugout to argue that the ball hadn’t been caught by Kozma at all and he was right. The crew corrected the call that made a critical difference in the bottom of the 1st inning. That led to loaded bases and then Mike Napoli’s double sent three runners home. Nap’s beard named The Siesta is almost as scary as his bat.
“There’s five of us out here, OK? And all five of us agreed 100 percent that it wasn’t a catch. Our job is to get it right,” crew chief John Hirschbeck told St. Louis Manager Mike Matheny.
That was the first of two critical Kozma errors, but he wasn’t the only unsteady Cardinal this evening. There was the fly ball that pitcher Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina both watched fall between them, sending the Fenway Park crowd into frenzied laughter. Wainwright called for the ball and then admittedly backed off.
“I called it. I waited for someone else to take charge. That’s not the way to play baseball. It was totally my error,” Wainwright said.
Next, the Sox were one inch away from another Papi Grand Slam in the bottom of the 2nd. The David Ortiz would-be HR became a sacrifice fly as Carlos Beltran says, “No!” when he reached over the wall and made the grab – but at considerable cost. Wincing in pain, he lasted the inning but that was it and he left the park for Mass General Hospital. Early reports called the injury a rib contusion, but the official report says that the MRI is negative and now he’s listed day to day.
For the rest of the night, things would continue to fall the Red Sox’s way. Ortiz hits a 2-run homer in the bottom of the 7th. Rookie infielder Xander Bogaerts hits a sac fly, bringing Daniel Nava home to make it 8-0. The only run posted for the Cardinals came on a Matt Holliday home run in the 9th to save the team from a shutout. The Sox 8-1 win was in the books before midnight. Game 2 starts at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday. Rookie phenom Michael Wacha has been lights out during the postseason and he’ll go up against 11-year vet John Lackey. Tomorrow will be a brand new day so settle into your easy chair. It’s still the best of seven.