Talk about capitalizing on opportunities. Every time the Cardinals made a mistake, an error, a dropped pop up, a wild pitch, whatever, the Red Sox were right there to take advantage.
Boston had just two hits with runners in scoring position (in eight at-bats) but one was a three-run double by Mike Napoli in the 1st inning. The other, a Dustin Pedroia RBI single in the 2nd to increase the lead to 4-0.
The turning point in the game was early in the first inning. After Jacoby Ellsbury walked, Shane Victorino lined out and Pedroia singled to center. Up came David Ortiz. The Cardinals shifted their defense with three infielders on the right side, standard positioning for an Ortiz at-bat. He grounded a ball weakly to second base. Shortstop Pete Kozma, positioned on the second base side of the bag, took his eye off the throw coming in from second baseman Matt Carpenter, and in his haste to avoid the sliding Pedroia, he dropped the ball.
Initially, the second base umpire ruled that Pedroia was out as Kozma lost the ball on the exchange from glove to hand. This was not the case as it was clear to all five other umpires that Kozma never had the ball at all; that it deflected off the tip of his glove. John Farrell went out to argue the call simply asking to ask for help from the rest of the crew.
To the umpires credit, they huddled up and overruled the call which took an out off the board and loaded the bases. Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny was livid, and rightfully so for the umpires changing the call, but in the end it was the right call. 10 years ago, the umpires don't even huddle up to talk about it. 20 years ago, they toss Farrell quickly. Home plate umpire and crew chief John Hirschbeck and Jim Joyce handled the situation with Matheny to perfection. They gave him slack. Let him plead his case and he stayed in the game. But, the situation was dramatically changed. Instead of 1st and 3rd with two outs, the bases were loaded with one out.
Three pitches later, Napoli plugged the left centerfield alley for a bases clearing double giving Boston a 3-0 lead. Momentum was seized.
Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright has had a tremendous postseason so far. He had a brilliant regular season too going 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA. But he was susceptible to first inning runs. In the regular season, Wainwright had an ERA of 6.09 in the 1st inning allowing 23 earned runs in 34 innings. He didn't have an ERA over three in any other frame but the 6th (4.26). The Sox got him for three and didn't let off the gas.
Another miscue, this time a mental one by Wainwright, allowed Boston to plate two more runs in the second. Stephen Drew led off the inning and hit a high pop up about 15 feet in front of the pitcher's mound that Wainwright let drop right at his feet. Pitchers are taught to let an infielder or a catcher to take charge on pop ups. This was Wainwright's ball; however, and he did not take charge.
A lead off single for Drew. David Ross followed with a hit. After a fly out, Victorino reached on another Pete Kozma error to load the bases. Pedroia would single scoring Drew making it 4-0. David Ortiz then almost jacked a grand slam, but a fantastic play by Carlos Beltran, who reached up and other the fence, brought the ball back for a sacrifice fly rather than a granny. The score was 5-0.
That was a big play for the Cardinals. Not only did it keep three extra runs from scoring, but Beltran hurt himself and was forced to leave the game with bruised ribs. If Beltran can't go tonight or is even hampered for the rest of the series, that really diminishes the St. Louis line-up.
Meanwhile, Jon Lester was dominant for the first three innings. In the 4th, though, the Cardinals threatened. Jon Jay, who replaced Beltran, walked to start the inning. After an out, Allen Craig and Yadier Molina singled to load the bases with just one out. One swing of the bat from David Freese could have brought St. Louis within just a run, but Lester induced a 1-2-3 double play and the threat was averted.
Lester escaped a two-out jam in the 5th as the Cardinals put runners on 2nd and 3rd after Jonny Gomes mishandled a ground ball in left field. But, again, Lester made a big pitch and got a ground out to short to end the inning.
The Red Sox ace ran into no further trouble in this 7.2 innings of domination. He allowed just five hits, all singles, while walking one and striking out eight.
Boston capitalized on another misplay in the 7th as former World Series MVP David Freese choked a throw to first base with two outs allowing Pedroia to reach. The very next batter, Ortiz, blasted a two run homer over the bullpen to give the Sox a 7-0 lead.
Xander Bogaerts added a sacrifice fly in the 8th off of 22-year-old fire-baller Carlos Martinez to make it 8-0. Daniel Nava, who led off with a double and went to third on a wild pitch, scored on the sac-fly.
Boston was working on a shutout before Matt Holliday launched a solo homer over the Monster in left to put the Cardinals' lone run on the board.
The win in Game 1 for the Red Sox was their 9th straight World Series victory. They have not lost a game in the Fall Classic since 1986.
The 3-4-5 hitters for Boston (Pedroia, Ortiz, Napoli) combined to go 5-for-11 with a homer, a double, four runs scored and seven RBI. That is some series run production from the heart of the order.
Game 2 is tonight at Fenway Park and the Sox will face a serious test in rookie Michal Wacha. The right-hander, just 22-years-old and a 1st round pick in the 2012 draft, has allowed just one run in 21 innings of work while striking out 22 and walking four in three postseason starts. Opponents are hitting just .114 (8-for-70) against him.
The Sox counter with John Lackey, who has been solid in the playoffs. The righty from Abilene, Texas is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA allowing four runs over 12 innings of work in two starts. He's struck out 14 and walked three. At Fenway Park in 2013, Lackey was 6-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 13 starts. He was 4-10 with a 4.48 ERA on the road.
It should be a great game between a pair of big righties from the Lone Star State in Game 2.
The Red Sox seized momentum in the series with their Game 1 victory over St. Louis. Hoping for another win tonight to go up 2-0 in the set! Here's to rooting on the Sox tonight in Game 2 at 8pm.