As we stated during our World Series preview (which can be heard currently on the site), this series could be so close, that the winner may be decided by who plays better defense. Well, if this is the type of the defense the cardinals plan on playing, then this series will be quick and painful for the Cardinals.
The Red Sox took game 1 of the World Series last night by a score of 8-1. The story of the game was the defense (or lack thereof) by the Cardinals. The Cardinals’ woes started in the bottom of the first, when David Ortiz hit into what seemed to be a fairly routine double play ball. The play fell apart when shortstop Pete Kozma dropped the ball that was flipped to him by second baseman Matt Carpenter. All the runners ended up being called safe after a review of the play by the umpires. This would prove costly as the next batter, Mike Napoli, ripped a 90 mph fastball in to the gap in left center field for a bases clearing double. The festival of failure would continue in the second inning when pitcher Adam Wainwright would have a pop up by Stephen Drew drop right in front of him. In addition to this, Kozma booted a Shane Victorino groundball to load the bases. These errors would turn into another two runs for the Red Sox. It could have been even worse, had it not been for Carlos Beltran robbing David Ortiz of a grand slam. However, even this was costly as Beltran had to leave the game with a bruised rib. Wainwright would end up going five innings giving up five runs (three earned) on six hits, while only striking out four. The opposing pitcher in this game, Jon Lester, threw a fantastic game, going 7.2 innings giving up no runs on five hits, while striking out eight. Controversy was met when people noticed a suspicious green substance on Lester’s glove. Nothing seems to have come from these allegations and Red Sox Manager John Farrell addressed the situation as “case closed”.
Tonight will be an attempt at redemption for the Cardinals, as they try to send rookie phenom Michael Wacha to the mound. Wacha, this postseason, is 3-0 with a .043 ERA. In addition to this, Wacha won the NLCS MVP for his two masterful starts against the Dodgers. The Red Sox will send John Lackey (2-0 3.00 ERA) to oppose Wacha. If the Cardinals are to win tonight, they must do three things.
- Wacha must be dominant: To this point the rookie sensation has looked like something out of a video game. A 0.43 ERA and 0.57 WHIP are unheard of type numbers in baseball. He has stuck out 22 batters while only walking four in three starts this season. Maybe the most impressive statistic from the bunch is the fact that batters are hitting only .114 against him. In order for Wacha to keep this up in one of the craziest ball parks in America, he will need to get his fastball and change up working quickly. This season, batters swung and missed at Wacha’s change up over 40% of the time. If he can keep those type of numbers up the Cardinals should be in good shape to win this game
- Get to John Lackey early: While, he has been pretty good this postseason, Lackey is a very emotional guy, on and off the field. Lackey threw a mini tirade after game 3 of the ALCS against the Tigers, after being taken out by manager John Farrell with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th, having only thrown 97 pitches. If you can get into Lackey’s head early, you can get him to make mistakes. As the Red Sox know very well from this postseason, it can only take one mistake pitching to lose a game.
- Defense! : The Cardinals need to improve on their abominable defensive effort from game 1. Luckily for them, RF Carlos Beltran will be in the line up tonight. As the Red Sox have shown, you need to be smart in every aspect of the game in order to win a series. They have sacrificed a little offense in the process (specifically keeping Stephen Drew in the line up who was hitting .083) but they have shown that the pay off is worth it. In game 6 of the ALCS, Drew made a crucial play to stop the Tigers from opening the floodgates in the 6th inning. If the Cardinals want to win this series, they may need to take a page out of the Red Sox playbook.
Game 2 will begin tonight at 8:07 P.M. on Fox (check your local lsitings).