Wednesday, October 23, 2013

World Series, Game One: Boston 8, St. Louis 1 (Boston leads 1-0)

Ever since MLB went to an eight-team playoff system, the World Series has tended to be a short, brutal affair.  There were seven-game series in 1997, 2001, 2002, and 2011 -- but there were sweeps in 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2012.  There were also five-game series in 2000, 2006, 2008, and 2010.  I don't know why this is -- my guess is that part of it has to do with flukey teams making it to the Series, part of it has to do with pitching staffs that are burned out from the playoffs, and part of it has been chance.

In any event, given this history, the fact that Boston absolutely humiliated St. Louis tonight -- drubbing the Cardinals 8-1 in a game that was never close, and beating the Cardinals' best pitcher in Adam Wainwright -- does not bode well for those of us who were hoping for an exciting series.

On the other hand, the Cardinals have Michael Wacha going tomorrow night, and he's been amazing in the playoffs so far.  The Cardinals will need him to be amazing at least one more time -- they will not want to go home down 2-0.


  1. The monthly Athlon Sports Magazine insert slipped out of my Madisonville Messenger this morning, and a picture of the Kirk Gibson home-run trot is on the freaking cover.

  2. Here the lineups for Game Two. Beltran is apparently able to play:

    ST. LOUIS:
    M. Carpenter, 2b
    C. Beltran, rf
    M. Holliday, lf
    M. Adams, 1b
    Y. Molina, c
    A. Craig, dh
    D. Freese, 3b
    J. Jay, cf
    D. Descalso, ss
    Starting pitcher: Michael Wacha

    J. Ellsbury, cf
    S. Victorino, rf
    D. Pedroia, 2b
    D. Ortiz, dh
    M. Napoli, 1b
    J. Gomes, lf
    J. Saltalamacchia, c
    S. Drew, ss
    X. Bogaerts, 3B
    Starting Pitcher: John Lackey

  3. The Cardinals get one hit (from Beltran) and no runs in the top of the first.

    In the bottom of the 1st, Ellsbury leads off with a pop-up to Freese -- and he catches it! So the Cardinals are already looking better than they did last night.

  4. Wacha retires the Red Sox in order.

    After 1: Boston 0, St. Louis 0

    Red Sox have a 50 percent chance of victory.

  5. In the top of the second, the Cardinals waste a leadoff single by Molina. St. Louis hasn't hit all that well in the playoffs -- they batted .209 against Pittsburgh and .211 against the Dodgers -- and they have looked completely overmatched so far in 11 inning against Boston.

  6. In the bottom of the second, Wacha pitches around a one-out walk to Mike Napoli.

    After 2: Boston 0, St. Louis 0

    Red Sox have a 50 percent chance of victory.

  7. Is it just me or does Vince Vaughn make like 8 movies per year?

  8. The Cardinals go down 1-2-3. At this point, they don't look like they're ever going to score.

  9. I understand that in the Chevy commercial, we're supposed to root for the Dad who lets his daughter wear her fairy costume to school for Picture Day. But I just keep thinking about how angry that guy's wife is going to be.

  10. In the bottom of the 3d, Ellsbury gets a two-out single -- Boston's first hit of the game. But Wacha retires Victorino to end the inning with no further drama.

    After 3: Boston 0, St. Louis 0

    Red Sox have a 50 percent chance of victory.

  11. In the top of the 4th, Holliday crushes a ball to dead center -- but dead center at Fenway is a long ways off. The ball bounds off the wall at an odd angle, and Holliday cruises into third with a leadoff triple.

  12. With the Cardinals just needing a ground out or a fly ball to take the lead, Matt Adams whacks a sinking liner toward second -- but Dustin Pedroia snags it just before it hits the ground. One out. Holliday stays at third.

  13. Molina hits a high chopper over the mound. Pedroia snags it, but has no chance to get Holliday. He throws out Molina, but the Cardinals now lead 1-0. I admit to being surprised.

  14. Lackey gets out of the inning with no further trouble, but the Cardinals finally have the lead. Wacha better guard that run, because I still don't see him getting too many more.

  15. But here come the Red Sox. Pedroia leads off the fourth by whanging a double off the scoreboard in left.

  16. Ortiz draws a 5-pitch walk, and the Red Sox have runners on first and second with nobody out. And here comes Napoli, who just murders the Cardinals.

    Wacha v. Napoli:

    Pitch 1 (0-0): Strike
    Pitch 2 (0-1): Napoli hits into a 6-4-3 double play. Thank you, Descalso!

    Pedroia moves to third with two out.

  17. Hershiser thinks that the Cardinals pitched around Ortiz to set up the double play. If so, it worked brilliantly. Gomes pops up to second. It's caught, and the inning is over.

    After 4: St. Louis 1, Boston 0

    St. Louis has a 64 percent chance of victory.

  18. Cardinals go down 1-2-3 in the top of the 5th, as they are basically marking time until Beltran and Holliday get to bat again.

    Matt Carpenter went 1-19 against Pittsburgh, 6-23 against Los Angeles, and he is 1-7 so far against Boston. That's a batting average of .163. No team can be very effective with that type of hitting in the lead-off position.

  19. Saltalamacchia is very lucky on a 3-2 pitch, and he gets a lead-off walk to start the 5th.

  20. But Wacha easily retires Drew, Bogearts, and Ellsbury to end the inning.

    After 5: St. Louis 1, Boston 0

    St. Louis has a 66 percent chance of victory.

  21. But the Red Sox have forced Wacha to throw 88 pitches already. He may only be able to pitch one more inning.

  22. In the top of the 6th, Beltran flies out and Holliday strikes out, so that's it for the Cardinal attack.

  23. Adams gets a two-out single, but Molina grounds out to end the inning.

    Now Victorino, Pedroia, and Ortiz get one more shot at Wacha.

  24. Pedroia draws a one-out walk, and that brings up Ortiz:

    Wacha v. Ortiz:

    Pitch 1 (0-0): Ball
    Pitch 2 (1-0): Hard foul down the first base line
    Pitch 3 (1-1): Ball outside
    Pitch 4 (2-1): Foul to left field
    Pitch 5 (2-2): Ball low (Everyone at Fenway stands up)
    Pitch 6 (3-2): ORTIZ HOMERS OVER THE GREEN MONSTER, and the Red Sox have probably won the World Series.

  25. And this is why Boston deserves the World Title. Pittsburgh needed to beat Wacha in order to eliminate St. Louis. They got only 1 hit in 7 1/3 innings, and lost 2-1. Wacha threw only 96 pitches.

    The Dodgers faced Wacha in Game Two of the NLCS, a game they had to win. They got 5 hits and no runs in 6 and 2/3 innings. Wacha threw 112 pitches.

    The Dodgers faced Wacha again in Game Six. This time they got two hits and no runs in 7 innings. Wacha threw 95 pitches.

    So in three must-win games, the Pirates and Dodgers could scrape out only one run against Wacha.

    Now look at Boston. Wacha came out throwing bullets. But the Bosox never panicked, never stopped working the count, never swung at bad pitches. They drove his pitch count higher and higher, and after five innings he had already thrown 88 pitches. Then Pedroia and Ortiz -- two wise and crafty hitters -- went to work. Wacha finally made a mistake, and the game belonged to Boston. As it should.

    Sometimes post-season baseball seems flukey. But sometimes it is very, very fair.

  26. After 6: Boston 2, St. Louis 1

    The Red Sox have a 69 percent chance of victory.

  27. In the top of the 7th, St. Louis shows some life. Freese draws a one-out walk, and Jay lines a single into right. That puts runners on first and second with two out. Boston will change pitchers: Lackey is out. The Red Sox bring in Craig Breslow (5-2, 1.81 ERA in 61 games).

  28. Pete Kozma comes in to pinch-run for Freese at second.

    Breslow v. Descalso:

    Pitch 1 (0-0): Ball low
    Pitch 2 (1-0): Called strike (that looked high to me)
    Pitch 3 (1-1): Ball in the dirt (Kozma keeps dancing toward 3d)
    Pitch 4 (2-1): Foul in the dirt
    Pitch 5 (2-2): Ball high (A DOUBLE STEAL; runners at 2d and 3d)
    Pitch 6 (3-2): Foul (Boston has brought the infield in)
    Pitch 7 (3-2): Ball inside, Walk

    The bases are loaded.

  29. This brings up Carpenter. We said when this all started that Pedroia was the MVP for the Red Sox, and Carpenter was the MVP for St. Louis. So far, Pedroia has been great, and Carpenter has been terrible.

    Breslow v. Carpenter (1 out, bases loaded):

    Pitch 1 (0-0): A fly to left. Gomes's throw home is a bit late, and bounces away from Saltalamacchia. Kozma scores to make the score 2-2. Jay then tries to advance to third. At this point, Breslow (backing up home plate), picks up the ball AND THROWS IT OVER THE THIRD BASEMAN'S HEAD AND INTO THE STANDS!!!!

    Jay trots home to PUT ST. LOUIS ON TOP 3-2. Descalso goes to third.

  30. That play by Breslow has got to be one of the dumbest plays in World Series history.

    And now, the Cardinals -- having scored two runs with a walk, a single, another walk, a sacrifice fly, and one of the worst errors you'll ever see -- have gotten back to an actual hitter. Beltran laces a single to right, and Descalso scores to make it 4-2 St. Louis.

    That's all for Breslow, but my guess is that most Bosox fans will think he's done enough.

    And, hey, Wacha could still be the winning pitcher!

  31. Saltalamacchia (for missing Gomes's throw) and Breslow (for his terrible throw) were both charged with errors on that one play.

    Boston now brings in Junichi Tazawa to pitch to Holliday. He grounds out to end the inning.

    After 6 1/2: St. Louis 4, Boston 2

  32. For the 7th-inning stretch, James Taylor is accompanied by victims of the Boston Marathon bombing as he sings "America the Beautiful." It's all pretty wonderful.

  33. So thirty minutes ago, the Cardinals appeared to be dead in the water, and now they are right back in it. But can the St. Louis bullpen get nine outs before the Red Sox get two runs?

    Whatever happens, I have to give credit to the Cardinals in that half-inning. That was the first time since the Series began that they've really looked like the scrappy, fighting Cardinals who went 6-0 against Natstown this year.

  34. Descalso shifts to third. Kozma will stay in and play short. Carlos Martinez (2-1, 5.08 ERA in 21 games) comes in to pitch.

  35. With one-out, Kozma makes a nifty bare-handed pick and throw to nail Drew. And then Bogearts grounds out to end the inning. Now that looks like the real Cardinals.

    After 7: St. Louis 4, Boston 2

    The Cardinals have an 86 percent chance of victory.

  36. Boston brings in Brandon Workman to pitch the 8th.

  37. The Fox cameras pick out Jon Hamm, wearing a Cardinals hat and a very thick beard.

  38. Craig gets a two-out single, but that's all the Cardinals can muster. It remains 4-2 heading into the bottom of the 8th, when the BoSox will send up the top of their order.

  39. The Cardinals are sticking with Martinez, who is a 21-year-old rookie.

    He starts by giving up a chopper to Ellsbury, which is bobbled by Carpenter. Here we go again.

    That's an error on Carpenter, and the tying run comes to the plate in the form of Shane Victorino.

  40. That was some great pitching. Martinez gets Victorino into an 0-2 hole, and then throws a slow curve that completely freezes the Boston batter. Strike three.

    But this brings up Pedroia, who is made of sterner stuff:

    Martinez v. Pedroia:

    Pitch 1 (0-0); Called strike
    Pitch 2 (0-1): Foul
    Pitch 3 (0-2): Foul
    Pitch 4 (0-2): Foul
    Pitch 5 (0-2): Swinging strike on a great curve ball. An almost perfect pitch.

  41. And next up is David Ortiz. Will the Cardinals stick with Martinez? Yes.

    Martinez v. Ortiz:

    Pitch 1: Ortiz slaps a single into short right, where Carpenter (who is out there for the shift) runs it down.

    The way Ortiz has been hitting, that's about as good as St. Louis could hope for.

  42. Next up: Mike Napoli.

    Martinez v. Napoli (runners on first and second, two out)

    Pitch 1 (0-0): Strike
    Pitch 2 (0-1): Ball inside
    Pitch 3 (1-1): Pop up to short, Kozma gets the catch. The inning is over.

    What great pitching from Martinez.

  43. After 8: St. Louis 4, Boston 2

    Fangraphs has crashed, so I don't know what St. Louis's chances are anymore.

  44. The Red Sox bring in their closer, Koji Uehara, to pitch the 9th. They probably think he needs the work.

  45. The Cardinals go down 1-2-3, so we head to the bottom of the 9th with St. Louis up 4-2.

  46. The Cardinals are bringing in 23-year-old Trevor Rosenthal, who had a 2.63 ERA in 74 appearances this year. He will face the 6, 7, and 8 batters in the Boston lineup.

  47. Rosenthal was not the closer in the regular season, but he took over the job in late September and has three saves in the post-season. Like Martinez, he is a rookie.

    He opens the inning by fanning Gomes.

  48. On ESPN Radio, Dan Schulman notes that all three St. Louis pitchers in this game have been rookies.

  49. Pinch hitter Daniel Nava strikes out. Rosenthal strikes out the side, and the Cardinals have WON THE GAME 4-2.

    What a great, great game. It was a little sloppy, but it was very dramatic.