Thursday, October 24, 2013

World Series, Game Two: St. Louis 4, Boston 2 (Series tied 1-1)

For the first 15 innings of this World Series, the Cardinals really seemed to be playing Boston's game.  Inning after inning, the Cardinals couldn't get anything going, and kept making one sloppy play after another.  Meanwhile, Boston kept working the pitch count and working the pitch count, setting up at-bats where Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and Mike Napoli could do big damage.  Tonight Cardinal rookie Michael Wacha pitched his heart out, but the Cardinals couldn't do much to help him.  And when Ortiz lofted a rare Wacha mistake over the Green Monster to give Boston a 2-1 lead in the 6th, the BoSox were poised to drive St. Louis into a very deep hole.

But at this point, with their backs against the wall, the Cardinals finally started playing like themselves.  David Freese -- a hero in 2011, but someone who has struggled mightily in this post-season -- worked a one-out walk.  John Jay -- a .276 hitter -- whacked a single into right.  And suddenly, for the first time in the series, the BoSox had to make some difficult decisions.  And almost every decision they made was a mistake.

First, they pulled John Lackey, who had pitched very well, and brought in Craig Breslow.  But the Cardinals put in Pete Kozma (last night's goat) to run for Freese.  And Kozma suddenly looked like Joe Morgan, dancing further and further off of second base -- and eventually leading a double steal that put runners on second and third.  Breslow, completely nonplussed by this, walked Daniel Descalso (who only batted .238 in the regular season) to load the bases for Matt Carpenter.

Now at this point, I thought Boston should pull Breslow, who just didn't look right.  But now the game was going too fast for Boston.  Carpenter whacked the first pitch to left field.  Kozma was almost certainly going to score, unless Boston made a perfect play.  But the throw from left mishandled by Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and the game was tied.  The Cardinals weren't done, as Jay decided to take advantage of Saltalamacchia's bobble to move to third.  And at this point Breslow completely lost his mind, scooping up the ball and hurling it over the third baseman's head and into the seats.  Less than a minute before, Boston had led 2-1.  Since that time, the Cardinals had merely hit a soft fly to left -- but they now led 3-2.

Again the Boston manager should have pulled Breslow.  Again he froze.  And so Carlos Beltran, one of the few major offensive threats the Cardinals have, got to drive in a vital insurance run.

After that, St. Louis never let up the pressure.  They brought in two more rookie pitchers.  Carlos Martinez pitched the 7th and 8th innings.  Trevor Rosenthal pitched the 9th.  Like Wacha, they worked very fast and pitched very hard.  Only Ortiz could do anything with them, but his single wasn't enough, and Boston lost a game that had appeared to be in their control.

The scene now shifts to St. Louis, where the Cardinals will continue to jab and move, and Boston will continue looking to throw a knock-out punch.  Both teams appear to have shaken off the jitters, and depending on how the pitching goes, this Series could be very entertaining.

1 comment:

  1. It's infuriating that the Cardinals now have three rookie pitchers that have the experience of throwing well in a successful World Series game.