A very different St. Louis Cardinals club showed up at Fenway Park tonight. Gone was the sloppy play and absent mindedness which plagued them in Game 1.
For starters, Michael Wacha lived up to the hype pitching six strong innings. The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on a groundball hit by Yadier Molina which scored Matt Holliday who led off the inning with a triple. Had a faster runner hit that ball we could have seen an inside the park home run.
Wacha did walk four batters. The first three walks were inconsequential. However, when Wacha walked Dustin Pedroia in the sixth, David Ortiz made him pay with a two-run home run into the Monster Seats to give the Sox a 2-1 lead. Big Papi's homer reminded me of the one he hit off Jarrod Washburn to win the 2004 ALDS against the Angels.
Unfortunately, this Papi dinger was not a walk off. Indeed, the Cardinals may have turned the corner in this World Series in the seventh inning.
Like Wacha, Red Sox starter John Lackey had tossed six strong innings. In the seventh, Lackey struck out Allen Craig looking, but issued a walk to David Freese and gave up a single to Jon Jay. Sox manager John Farrell came out and gave Lackey the hook and brought in lefty Craig Breslow. While that happened, Freese was removed for pinch runner Pete Kozma (who made two errors in Game 1).
Breslow faced light hitting Daniel Descalso. During Descalso's plate appearance, there was a double steal by Kozma and Jay. Breslow then walked Descalso to load the bases. This brought Matt Carpenter to the plate. Carpenter, who led the NL in hits this season, hit a fly ball to Jonny Gomes which brought in Kozma to tie the game at 2-2. But that would not be the end of it.
Red Sox catcher could not handle Gomes' throw from left field which allowed Jay to advance to third. Breslow, who backed up the play, tried to throw Jay out at third. But Breslow's throw sailed over Xander Bogaerts head allowing Jay to score. The Cardinals take a 3-2 lead. Two errors on one play.
Could this be the turning point for the Cardinals?
And then came the confusing part. Why did Farrell leave Breslow in to face Carlos Beltran when Junichi Tazawa was ready? Why keep in a lefty to face a right-handed hitter? I saw the look in Tazawa's eyes as he looked to the field. He was ready!!! But Farrell did not climb out of the dugout steps. So Tazawa kept throwing in the bullpen.
Well, Breslow gave up a single to Beltran scoring Carpenter. The Cardinals now led 4-2. Finally, Farrell comes and gets Breslow and brings in Tazawa. Matt Holliday grounded out to Pedroia to end the inning. I can't figure it out.
What I can figure out is that Beltran was able to play despite injured ribs. With the aid of painkillers and heavy bandages, Beltran went 2-for-4 with a RBI.
The Cardinals bullpen did the rest. Although Carlos Martinez had runners on first and second with Mike Napoli representing the go-ahead run, he got out of the eighth inning unscathed. In the ninth, Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal overpowered the Sox striking out the side to end the game. Cards win 4-2 and even the World Series at one game apiece.
The World Series resumes on Saturday night in St. Louis. Joe Kelly starts for the Cardinals while Jake Peavy gets the ball for the Bosox in Game 3. Could the Cards sweep the Sox in the next three at Busch? Or will the Sox rebound against the Redbirds?