Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 207: One Down, Three to Go, Sox Fans!

Red Sox Nation breathed a collective relieved sigh early in game one of the World Series on Wednesday night when the Sox took an early 5-0 lead after two innings. After scratching and clawing for every run in the ALCS, it was nice to put some early distance between themselves and those tough Cardinals.

If you missed the first few innings, I'm not sure I could even describe what type of shenanigans took place. And I'm not sure you'd even believe me. It may have been a bad sign of things to come when the 6'7" Adam Wainwright doinked his head on the made-for-the-vertically-challenged Fenway dugout roof as he took the field for the first time. Who knows... but the regular season wins leader in the NL with 19 didn't look quite right.

Or maybe it wasn't that Wainwright looked any different... maybe it was that he hadn't faced a lineup as complete and relentless as the Red Sox. The normally solid defense of the Cardinals failed to make simple outs, setting the Sox up for a bases clearing, three-run double from Mike Napoli in the bottom of the first. It was all the scoring needed behind Jon Lester's masterful outing where he pitched 7.2 innings of shutout ball and struck out eight. (And of course, because he was so unhittable, he must have cheated, right? That's what some Sox-haters are saying... but MLB says Lester didn't break any rules.)

The Cardinals, who had the fourth best fielding percentage (.988) in the majors during the regular season, committed three errors and a couple of other miscues luckily not scored as errors. My most favorite blunder came in the second inning when Stephen Drew led off the inning with a sky high pop-up just in front of the plate. Wainwright called for it, waving his arms as Yadier Molina came towards him. Wainwright looked at Molina... Molina looked at Wainwright... and neither one of them caught the ball. It was like a scene out of (insert cliched baseball movie here) The Bad News Bears as the ball dropped innocently between them. Drew was safe at first.

The Red Sox managed to load the bases again in the second on that miscue by Wainwright, a single and another error, setting up a situation no pitcher enjoys—Big Papi sauntering to the plate with the bases jammed. And he scared the living shit out of the pitcher when he launched a bomb into right field that surely looked destined for the bullpen. That's until Carlos Beltran ran it down and robbed Oritz of his second post-season slam while crashing into the wall. Even a Sox fan has to tip their cap to that play. So instead, it was a very long, very loud sac fly.

As the start of game two approaches, my butterflies start to come back. There's a strong change that this game could be the complete opposite of game one—a grinding pitchers' duel that has me watching through my fingers as if it were a scary movie. John Lackey takes the hill against the 22-year-old Michael Wacha who is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in the postseason. GO RED SOX!

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