There was a party Wednesday night at Fenway Park. And the Cardinals were merely serving the cocktails.
Jon Lester threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings and the Red Sox offense tagged the vaunted St. Louis staff early and late as Boston captured Game 1 of the World Series in an 8-1 rout. The only Cardinals run came on a ninth-inning solo blast by Matt Holliday. It was served up by Red Sox righty Ryan Dempster, who pitched just two total innings in the first two rounds. Dempster wound up finishing the game.
The Cardinals’ problems began in the bottom of the first inning when Game 1 starter Adam Wainwright issued a leadoff walk to Jacoby Ellsbury. It was just the 37th walk in 38 starts this year for the Cardinals’ ace and it kicked off a crushing opening frame for the visiting club. Dustin Pedroia followed with a one-out single and then David Ortiz reached on a botched would-be doubleplay. More on that here. Mike Napoli then hit a bases-clearing, three-run double into the left-field gap, scoring Ellsbury, Pedroia and Ortiz with one swing.
Wainwright made it just five innings, yielding five runs — three earned — in by far his worst outing of the 2013 postseason. And the St. Louis bullpen — save for John Axford — wasn’t really any better.
Game 2 of the World Series is on Thursday night, back at Fenway Park.
It’ll be Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha vs. Boston’s John Lackey.
Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.
While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.
Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”
He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”
Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.
According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”
Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.