BOSTON -- As if detached from his delivery and unable to get control of his body, let alone the game, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright described the sensation of his first World Series start as if he spent it in a fog.
The same could be said of the Cardinals.
What might have been the Cardinals' worst game of the season came on the biggest stage of the year as they dropped an 8-1 fiasco to Boston in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday at Fenway Park. All eight of the Red Sox runs came connected to an error or a misplay by the Cardinals, and Boston was able to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series by exploiting a clearly out of sorts Wainwright. Manager Mike Matheny quickly labeled the debacle a "wakeup call." The tone was his to set, he said. This wasn't what he had in mind.
"We didn't play well because our starting pitcher let us down," said Wainwright, who allowed six hits and five runs in his five innings. "That's the way this game works. If your starting pitcher is terrible, your team is going to lose and this night our starting pitcher was -- I was terrible."
The Red Sox won their ninth consecutive World Series game, a span that encompasses two championships and started with a humbling of the Cardinals in 2004. The Cardinals ambled into that World Series fresh from a Game 7 victory against Houston and a 105-win season that labeled them as a juggernaut. They floundered. Boston scored in the first inning of Game 1 and really never let up, leaving the Cardinals searching the debris of a four-game sweep for some semblance of the team they were. Hello, deja vu.
Those tenacious Boston hitters worked Wainwright over for a 31-pitch, 32-minute first inning. They had a 5-0 lead by the end of the second inning. An error on Pete Kozma in the first led directly to three runs. A popup that dropped between Wainwright and Yadier Molina in the second led to two more. An error in the seventh preceded David Ortiz's two-run homer, and even a wild pitch in the eighth meant a fly ball to the outfield was a sacrifice fly for the eighth run. And the scoreboard wasn't the only bruising the Cardinals took.
In the second inning, Carlos Beltran saved Wainwright from allowing a grand slam to Ortiz by slamming into the wall to steal a homer. Beltran went from right field right to the hospital to have x-rays and a CT scan taken of his bruised ribs. General manager John Mozeliak said the scans found no fractures and he'd be a game-time decision for tonight's Game 2.
The injury hurt.
The disastrous play stung.
"That is not the kind of team that we've been all season," Matheny said. "I'm sure they're embarrassed to a point. We get an opportunity to show the kind of baseball we played all season long and it didn't look anything like what we saw."
Wainwright had to relive as Boston's starter Jon Lester putting the finishing touches on his gem. Lester pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings. In the two-plus innings he pitched more than Wainwright, the Cardinals' ace rewatched every pitch he threw. Running out to the field to start his game, Wainwright knocked his head on the ceiling of the dugout and stumbled. He the bump clearly "didn't knock any sense into me." He agreed that the rest of the game felt like an out of body experience. He felt his delivery run amok and couldn't get it back in line. He needed 60 pitches to get through two innings and not once did he feel his delivery fall in line.
He's felt that in less than five starts, and here it was in his biggest start.
He watched the video of every pitch to fix for his next start.
"When you come out after the fifth you have a lot of time," he said.
The first inning turned on Wainwright with a call at second base that the umpires ultimately got right without the use of replay.
With three of the infielders shifted over to the right side of the infield, Ortiz slashed a grounder to second baseman Matt Carpenter. The Cardinals had not used the shift often earlier this October when there was a chance to turn a double play or with a runner on base. Ortiz's pull nature from the left side was apparently enough to trump that. Carpenter was in position to gobble the grounder, but shortstop Pete Kozma had to get to second base from the second baseman's side. Carpenter shoveled the ball a greater distance than normal and Kozma got only the tip of his glove of the ball. It wasn't enough to hold on to it, but he got a brief reprieve from his miss from the umpire.
Dana DeMuth, at second base, ruled that the runner, Pedroia, was out at second base. He signaled that Kozma had touched second and had control of the ball before losing it.
Boston manager John Farrell stormed from the dugout. A year from now he'd likely have a challenge flag to throw or a bean bag to chuck out onto the field. The play would then go to a replay official to review DeMuth's call. But that's next year. This year, while the FOX broadcast can run the replay in an infinite loop for everyone at home to see, the umpires don't have access to it. Instead, the umpires did something unusual: they overturned the call made in the field after conferring a group. Replays showed they got the call correct after the huddle, though the Cardinals felt they improvised a solution.
"The explanation is that's not a play I've ever seen before," Matheny said. "And I'm pretty sure there were six umpires on the field who had never seen that play before either. It's a pretty tough time to debut that overruled call in the World Series. Now, I get trying to get the right call. Tough one to swallow."
As a result, Pedroia jumped out of the dugout and back on the field. He was safe at second. Ortiz was on first. The bases were loaded. Kozma had an error.
Wainwright was in trouble.
"If I catch that ball clean, turn the double play, it doesn't matter, and it's still nothing-nothing," Kozma said. "It's not bases loaded."
Three pitches later, Napoli ripped a double into the left-center gap that cleared the bases. Instead of two outs and runners at the corners with DeMuth's call, Boston had a 3-0 lead with the correct call. The official scorer briefly tagged center fielder Shane Robinson with an error that meant Napoli had only two RBIs on the hit, but that was reconsidered. Napoli has 13 RBIs in his last eight World Series games -- all against the Cardinals.
The Cardinals mounted moments of resistance, the first of which was started by Beltran's replacement in the lineup, Jon Jay. The lefthanded-hitting Jay, who did not start in center against the lefty Lester, worked a walk to lead off the fourth inning. Singles by Allen Craig and Yadier Molina followed. Freese, who won the 2011 World Series MVP because of the Cardinals' rally against Napoli's Rangers, skipped the ball into a 1-2-3 double play to end the inning and the threat. In the fifth inning an error in left field by Jonny Gomes got two Cardinals into scoring position with two outs. Lester got Jay to groundout and end the inning.
Although they defeated Cy Young award favorite Clayton Kershaw four times this season -- including twice in the National League championship series -- the Cardinals spent most of the season flummoxed by lefties. The Cardinals went 19-23 against lefties and were the only winning team in the National League with a losing record in games started by southpaws. During one stretch this season the Cardinals lost four consecutive games to lefties, who combined for a 0.96 ERA. After Mets' lefty Jon Niese held the Cardinals to two runs through 7 1/3 innings in May, Wainwright described how lefties with "real tight cutters" have a "good weapon against big righthanded hitters." The Cardinals are one of those lineups. Lester has one of those pitches.
The Red Sox lefty pitched a perfect third inning on 13 pitches. Only two of those pitchers were breaking balls, and five of the pitches he threw were cutters, two each to Robinson and leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter. Lester's fastball touched 95 mph in the game, but it was his ability to wedge his cutter in on the hands of the Cardinals' righties that foiled the lineup -- just as other cross-firing lefties and those "sneaky" cutters did all season.
Lester, who clinched the Red Sox title with a Game 4 win in 2007, struck out eight and allowed only two runners to reach third.
The Cardinals dented the shutout with a solo homer by Matt Holliday in the eighth.
"It's not what happened in the past, it's now how we respond in the future," Craig said. "It's frustrating. We would have liked to play a lot better. There are a lot of games left in this series. We need to play better and I'm sure we will."
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