BOSTON — This World Series couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Cardinals.
With their ace having little control early and their normally sure-handed defense producing a slapstick performance, the Cardinals, who, oh by the way, also lost rightfielder Carlos Beltran to injury, were blown out, 8-1, by the Red Sox in Game 1 of the Series in front of 38,345 at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.
The postgame commentary will rightly say it is only one game, but recent history has treated Game 1 winners well.
They’ve gone on to win the World Series 62 percent of the time overall, including nine of the last 10 years and 14 of the last 16.
Boston righthander John Lackey will try to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead on Thursday night when he goes against 22-year-old Cardinals rookie righthander Michael Wacha, who has shined this postseason, going 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA.
Wacha will need more help behind him than Adam Wainwright received Wednesday night, but giving credit where it is due, the Red Sox, in winning their ninth straight World Series game, were as good as the Cardinals, who committed three errors, were bad.
Boston got 72/3 shutout innings from Jon Lester, who allowed five hits, struck out eight and walked one, and a home run and three RBIs from David Ortiz.
As they did in the ALCS against the Tigers, the Red Sox took advantage of the opportunities presented.
Those came early in the first, a three-run inning highlighted by the first of shortstop Pete Kozma’s two errors and an overturned umpire’s call.
Wainwright was off from the start, walking leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury. After Shane Victorino lined out to left, Dustin Pedroia singled to center. Next came David Ortiz, who sent a grounder to second baseman Matt Carpenter that appeared to be an inning-ending double play. But Kozma dropped Carpenter’s throw, though second-base umpire Dana DeMuth initially ruled Pedroia out at second, saying Kozma first possessed the ball, then lost it on the transfer. Replays showed that to be an obvious mistake, and after an umpires’ conference, the call was reversed. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny’s spirited argument likely would have led to an ejection under different circumstances.
Mike Napoli came up with the bases loaded and got ahead 2-and-0 before lining a bases-clearing double into the gap in left-center to make it 3-0.
When the Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series, they scored in the first inning of each of the four games.
Wednesday night the Red Sox scored in the second, too, aided by more shoddy defense by the Cardinals.
Stephen Drew led off the inning with a pop-up between the mound and home. Wainwright called for it, but as catcher Yadier Molina trotted toward him, he let the ball fall between them for what was ruled a single.
The Red Sox pounced on the mistake, again with some help from Kozma. David Ross followed with a single to center and, after Ellsbury flew to left for the first out, Victorino bounced a grounder to the hole at short. Ranging to his left, Kozma booted the ball for an error to load the bases. Pedroia singled to left to bring in Drew, making it 4-0.
Ortiz then sent a shot to right-center, not far from where his ALCS-altering grand slam sailed in Game 2. Beltran, however, reached into the Cardinals’ bullpen to steal another grand slam. Beltran slammed against the wall with his body as he made the catch and would leave the game after the inning. He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital with what was announced as a right rib contusion.
Ross came in on the sacrifice fly to make it 5-0.
Ortiz got his home run five innings later, connecting off lefty Kevin Siegrist’s first pitch in the seventh, a two-run shot over the Red Sox bullpen that made it 7-0.