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Rejuvenated ace Jon Lester spun a masterful start with 7.2 shutout innings, and the Boston Red Sox took advantage of multiple miscues by the St. Louis Cardinals to win Game 1 of the World Series 8-1.
The trouble started for the Cardinals in the very first inning when the umpires convened to review David Ortiz’s possible double play ball to the second baseman with one out and runners on first and second. Matt Carpenter’s throw ticked off the glove of Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma, but the second base umpire ruled the ball came out on the transfer. Red Sox manager John Farrell came charging out in protest, prompting the umpiring crew to put their heads together. The unanimous decision (albeit still controversial, but more on that later) to overturn the call gave the Red Sox a huge bases loaded opportunity with just one out against Adam Wainwright, and Mike Napoli didn’t waste it, ripping a three-run double into the gap in left-center for an early lead that Lester would never relinquish.
The Red Sox would tack on two more runs in the bottom of the second, but left a few off the board no thanks to Carlos Beltran. Poor defense by St. Louis was again at the heart of things, starting with a pop-up in front of the pitcher’s mound by Stephen Drew that Wainwright seemed to call for before looking to catcher Yadier Molina at the last second as if he were supposed to catch it. Kozma coughed up another error in a fabulous start to his World Series, loading the bases with Red Sox for the second straight inning.
After Dustin Pedroia lined a single to left to plate one run, Ortiz came up looking to replicate his ALCS Game 2 heroics, and nearly did with a shot towards the bullpen. It wasn’t quite as high or deep though, and Beltran did what Torii Hunter could not by (rather nonchalantly) reaching over the wall and bringing the ball back for a mere sac fly. The catch prevented three Red Sox runs (and oh, the groans from the stands!), but came at a cost: Beltran would exit the next inning, apparently injuring his ribs from colliding with the low wall in right. Considering the Red Sox were already up 5-0 at the time (with the sac fly), I’d have to think the Cardinals and their fans would rather have their #2 hitter and postseason superstar healthy and in the lineup.
The Red Sox would add three more insurance runs against the Cardinals bullpen, two on an Ortiz bomb (408 feet!) that no one was bringing back, and the last on a Xander Bogaerts sac fly that scored Daniel Nava, who had roped a double to left pinch hitting for Jonny Gomes in the eighth. But after jumping out to a 5-0 lead, the real story of the game was Jon Lester.
Matched up against Wainwright, Lester pitched brilliantly, shutting out the NL’s top offense for 7.2 innings. He allowed just five hits and one walk while striking out eight. He looked incredibly sharp, spotting his cutter on the outside corner to backdoor right-handed hitters, as if he walked to home plate and placed it in David Ross’s glove. Junichi Tazawa struck out Jon Jay, who replaced Beltran, for the final out of the eighth, and Ryan Dempster gave up a solo home run to Matt Holliday before getting the final three outs in mop up duty.
But back to the first inning kerfuffle over the call at second base. There was some controversy because of the unprecedented nature of convening to consider a simple out call at second base. As Joe Buck and Tim McCarver (and undoubtedly Cardinals manager Mike Matheny) were saying, if you’re meeting and overturning this call, what won’t be up for review? I completely disagree, and not just because the review favored Boston. The most important thing is that the umps make the correct call, especially in a game of this magnitude, and clearly the second base umpire got it wrong initially. Good for them for making sure to get it right.
Game 2 of the World Series is Thursday night, with John Lackey – coming off 6.2 shutout innings against Justin Verlander and the Tigers – taking on phenom Michael Wacha, himself the owner of a 3-0 postseason record and two no-hitter watches at the age of 22. First pitch is at 8:07 PM.