Nightmare Game One Sets Cards Against The Odds

alexanderYuck.

Last night was a “Murphy’s Law” kind of night — not what the Cardinals wanted (or expected) in Game 1 of the World Series.

It was ugly all around. Adam Wainwright struggled as much as Waino ever does. Pete Kozma — in the game for his defensive abilities — had a pair of mistakes through two innings (one of which ended up in an overturned call at second base), and Shane Robinson bobbled a ball that resulted in three early runs.  Waino and Yadier Molina reinacted Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran’s lack of communication from the NLCS, watching a pop up drop between them. Beltran made a sensational leaping catch to rob Big Papi of a grand slam in the second inning, only to leave the game with a rib contusion from slamming into the low outfield wall.

With the bases loaded and one out in the fourth, David Freese played the opposite of World Series hero and bounced right into an inning-ending double play. The next inning, with runners at second and third with two away, it should have been Beltran’s at bat. Instead, it was Jon Jay who, despite coming up with some big hits before, wasn’t a likely hero against lefty Jon Lester.

Oh yeah. They were facing a lefty, too.

Waino worked through the first few innings and managed to put up four zeroes … too little too late.

For good measure, David Ortiz and Xander Bogaerts padded the lead with home runs late in the game — one off of Kevin Siegrist, the other off of Carlos Martinez.

Matt Holliday denied the Sox the shutout, though, with a solo blast of his own in the ninth. Not that it changed much at that point.

Matt Carpenter summed it up accurately after the game: “I don’t think it could have gone any stranger and any worse for the Cardinals.”

One loss in a best-of-seven series is not really anything to write home about. It’s still just one game. There’s still plenty of time to turn it around. Perhaps a bigger loss, though, could be that of Beltran, who is currently “day-to-day.”

The good news for the Cardinals was that Beltran’s X-rays and a CT scan were negative. The bad news for the Cards was that they ended the night with little idea whether their most proven postseason hitter, their emotional beacon during this deep October run, will be able to play Game 2 of the Fall Classic on Thursday night

“Obviously, you want to see your club at full strength,” Mozeliak said. “You don’t want to go into this thing where you lose somebody early on. We’ll just have to see. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go.”

I was asked after the game if, in hind sight, I’d rather Beltran have conceded the grand slam in order to avoid the injury and potential days out of the lineup.

I guess I’m not sure how to answer that.

Yes, I’d prefer a healthy Beltran in the lineup. And, if Game 1 was going to be a wash anyway, maybe it would have been just as well. That said, it was a 4-0 game at the time — certainly a game within reach — and no one could have expected Beltran to (1) assume his team was out of it and (2) let that ball go intentionally.

That said, yes. Going forward, the loss of Beltran might just hurt more than the loss of Game 1.

Of course, after dropping the opener in such nightmarish fashion, the narrative quickly became about the Red Sox dominance in the WS (that’s nine straight, if you didn’t hear) and the fact that 21 of the last 25 titles were earned by the team who won Game 1.

The odds are against the Cardinals. Again. Right off the bat.

…good.

That’s when they seem to play their best. Somehow, the whole “backs against the wall” pressure inspires them to prove that they are more than a statistic, more than a case of history repeating itself.

Matheny called it “a wakeup call.”

Let’s hope everyone’s wide awake and focused, now.

It’s a new day. A new game. And it’s Michael Wacha’s turn to step into the bright lights of Fenway, trying to salvage a split before the series shifts to St. Louis. No pressure, kid.

I just hope the players shake Game 1 faster than I am. I also hope those eight runs were all the Red Sox had left. …one out of two isn’t bad, right?

Game 2 kicks off tonight at 6:30 p.m.

Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on twitter @tarawellman.

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