BOSTON - It's hard to envision how the World Series could have started much worse for the Cardinals.
With their ace having little control early and their usually surehanded defense producing a slapstick performance, the Cardinals, who, oh by the way, also lost rightfielder Carlos Beltran to injury, were blown out, 8-1, Wednesday night by the Red Sox in Game 1 of the Series in front of 38,345 at Fenway Park.
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"That is not the kind of team we've been all season," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose team committed three errors but could have been charged with another. "They're frustrated. I'm sure embarrassed to a point."
The postgame commentary will rightly say it is only one game, but Game 1 winners have won 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 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 were bad.
Boston got 71/3 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.
"He's a big-time pitcher," said Mike Napoli, whose three-run double keyed Boston's first inning, one highlighted by the first of Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma's two errors and an overturned umpire's call.
Wainwright, who summed up his five-inning outing as "a really bad effort," was off from the start, walking leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury. After Shane Victorino lined out to left, Dustin Pedroia singled to center. Next came 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. After an umpires' conference, the call was reversed.
Matheny's ensuing argument likely would have led to an ejection under different circumstances. "That's not a play I've ever seen before . . . just a tough one to swallow," Matheny said.
"I just explained to him the same thing I just told you," crew chief John Hirschbeck told a pool reporter. "That five of us were a hundred percent sure. Our job is to get the play right. And that's what we did. I said, 'I know you're not happy. It went against you, but you have to understand, the play is correct.'''
Napoli got ahead 2-and-0 before lining a bases-clearing double into the gap in left-center to make it 3-0.
Ortiz, who hit a two-run homer in the seventh off lefty Kevin Siegrist, said of the play: "We got some momentum going."
Farrell called the overturn "surprising" but, like his players, said it resulted in the correct call.
"You rarely see that," Napoli said. "But I think that was good for the game. They got it right."
Ortiz, whose Game 2 grand slam turned around the ALCS, had another slam stolen by rightfielder Carlos Beltran in the second inning, when he hit the wall reaching into the Cardinals bullpen to make the catch. Ultimately it was a sacrifice fly that made it 5-0 and sent Beltran out of the game with a right rib contusion. Matheny said X-rays and a CT scan taken at a local hospital came back negative and he said Beltran was "day-to-day."
The second was an inning that started with Stephen Drew reaching on a short pop-up that fell between Wainwright, who called for the ball, and catcher Yadier Molina. Kozma's second error led to another unearned run.
"Tonight," Wainwright said, speaking for himself but could have easily meant the team, "was just awful."