Come on, you knew this was coming.
Despite the Red Sox looking far superior in Game 1 of the World Series, the Cardinals were able to show in Game 2 that this series really is going to be the hard-fought battle that we all expected. The two teams are simply too evenly matched for one squad to run away with things.
The Red Sox, to their credit, were on the verge of grabbing a 2-0 series lead Thursday. David Ortiz put Boston ahead in the sixth inning with a two-run homer off Michael Wacha, and Fenway Park looked poised for a celebration. Instead, the Cardinals struck for three runs in the seventh inning to silence the crowd and eventually even up the series.
The series now shifts to St. Louis for Games 3, 4 and 5. Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz are scheduled to pitch for the Red Sox in the first two games, while the Cardinals are expected to counter with Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn.
Before we look ahead, let’s take a step back and unload the Game 2 notebook.
Boston, which swept St. Louis and Colorado in 2004 and 2007, respectively, had won nine straight World Series games.
But you already knew this.
This means nothing, really. Just a fun little factoid.
Molina drove in the Cardinals’ first run of the game Thursday with an RBI groundout after Matt Holliday led off the fourth inning with a triple. Molina, who went 1-for-4 in Game 2, has now recorded a hit in five straight World Series games, dating back to Game 5 of the 2011 World Series. He is hitting .421 (8-for-19) with six RBIs in that five-game stretch.
Molina is a career .327 (17-for-52) hitter in the World Series. The veteran backstop, who is St. Louis’ only holdover from its 2004 squad, has four doubles, four runs and 11 RBIs in 17 World Series games.
Wacha’s stuff was nasty, and he was in control until he walked Dustin Pedroia just before Ortiz’s blast. The rookie has allowed just three runs over his last 35 2/3 innings (0.78 ERA) — dating back to his final regular-season start — and has 37 strikeouts in that span.
“The kid continues to impress. I don’t know what else you could ask,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after Game 2. “Put him on any stage and he does a real nice job of limiting distractions. He and Yadi work well together and make good adjustments along the way. He stuck with his strengths and really went out and was aggressive, and that’s exactly what we needed him to do.”
“Credit to their lineup, [the Red Sox] battled me all night,” Wacha said Thursday. “They weren’t swinging down in the zone that I usually get swings at. They made me work out there. Got my pitch count up a lot higher than I wanted it to be. But I had to go out and battle and let my defense work behind me. They made great plays and got me out of innings pretty smoothly.”
“I was pretty mad coming in, but Yadi came up and was like, ‘Don’t worry. Just hold them here. We’re going to score in the top of the seventh,’” Wacha said. “Sure enough, we put up a big three spot.”
Matt Carpenter hit a fly ball to left field with the bases loaded and one out. Jonny Gomes made the catch, but his throw home was off the mark. Jarrod Saltalamacchia dropped it, and Craig Breslow, who had taken over for John Lackey in the inning, fired an errant throw to third base that allowed the go-ahead run to cross.
Breslow’s errant throw was a poor decision on his part. It turned the play into a Little League-style free-for-all, when in reality, Breslow would have still had an opportunity to escape the inning with the game tied. Instead, the Cardinals grabbed the lead, and then extended it when Carlos Beltran singled into right field.
“When I left the ballpark [Wednesday] I had very little hope that I was going to be in the lineup with the way I felt,” Beltran said. “When I woke up, I woke up feeling a little better. And I came to the ballpark, talked to the trainer. I was able to get treatment and talk to the doctors, and find a way to try anything I could try just to go out there and feel no pain. And I did that before BP and went to the cage. I felt like I was swinging the bat OK — not good, but good enough to be able to go out there and be with the guys.”
Beltran, of course, suffered his injury while banging into the wall as he robbed Ortiz of a grand slam in Game 1.
Lackey, who was charged with three earned runs in Game 2, has allowed four runs or fewer in 14 of his 15 career playoff starts.
“I felt good tonight,” Lackey said after Game 2. “I felt like I had probably a little better fastball than my last start. Their guy was pitching well. The margin for error is really slim this time of year. And kind of let one go tonight, but we’ll be back the next one.”
“Brez has been awesome for us this year,” Lackey said. “I can’t wait to see him get back out there, because he’s been so good for us and you can’t go wrong with putting that guy on the mound.”
“It’s not an easy decision, knowing that we have a left‑hander up and ready to go,” Matheny said. “A lot of it has to do with what we see, how the ball is coming out of Carlos’s hands at that time. We have two guys on base — one by an error and another by a ball that made it’s way kinda through the infield. Looked like he had real good life. And if we get through Ortiz, then we have an opportunity to use Carlos’ good life right there against a [Mike] Napoli, where we don’t have to bring Trevor in more than one. Not an easy call, but we liked the way Carlos was throwing the ball at that particular time.”
Matheny brought in lefty Kevin Siegrist to face Ortiz in the seventh inning of Game 1, and it didn’t work out so well. Ortiz launched a two-run homer into the bullpen.
“Well, as we mentioned the other day, with the amount of ground to cover in left field [in St. Louis], the left‑right matchups against [Game 3 starter Joe Kelly]. Without announcing a lineup, yeah, we’re factoring all that in right now,” Farrell said. “I think the way Nava came off the bench [in Game 1] with a good pinch‑hit appearance, it’s likely he’ll continue to factor in here.”
Saltalamacchia got the start in both of Peavy’s previous two starts this postseason. The right-hander gave up a combined eight earned runs on 10 hits in 8 2/3 innings (8.31 ERA).
That’s a pretty useless stat, no matter how you slice it. What isn’t useless, however, is that the team that wins Game 3 in a 1-1 series has gone on to win the World Series 37 times (67.3 percent).