To put it simply, the Cardinals were never in Game 1 of the World Series. Terribly sloppy defensively, they were down 3-0 after one and 5-0 after two. They mounted little rallies in the fourth and fifth innings, but nothing came of them. At no point did Boston’s lead seem surmountable.
None of that matters now, though. Losing the opener 8-1 with three errors and a solitary extra-base hit in the ninth? It’s no different from losing 5-4.
Here’s what the Cardinals have working for them:
Game 2: Michael Wacha
Games 3-5: Home-field advantage. Either David Ortiz or Mike Napoli — perhaps the Red Sox’s two best hitters right now — is going to be limited to one at-bat off the bench.
Game 6: Michael Wacha
Game 7: Well, anything can happen in Game 7.
So, yeah, the Cardinals’ chances of winning the World Series very much hinge on Wacha. But who better to put them on? The rookie who has allowed one run and nine hits over 29 2/3 innings in his last four starts. He has the freshest arm of any starter in the series, and the Red Sox have never seen him before, which should work to his advantage. Maybe he’ll be nervous, but nothing that happened in the NLCS suggests it. If the Cardinals can win Game 2, they’ll have gotten all they should have hoped for in Boston.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.