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.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.