BOSTON — Jon Lester was in complete control on the mound Wednesday night. The St. Louis Cardinals weren’t in control of anything, especially in the first two innings.
The result was a breezy 8-1 victory for the Boston Red Sox in Game One of the World Series at a rollicking Fenway Park. Mike Napoli’s three-run double in the first – coming in the wake of a properly reversed call at second base – quickly got the crowd of 38,345 roaring and was basically all Lester would need.
The left-hander tossed 7∏ shutout innings, scattering five hits and striking out eight. He pitched the 2007 clincher at Colorado in Boston’s last appearance, making him the first starter since Cardinals legend Bob Gibson (1967-68) to win two straight Series games for his team.
Game Two is here tonight with Cardinals rookie phenom Michael Wacha pitching against Boston’s John Lackey. History is already stacked against St. Louis as the last 13 home teams to win the opener have won the championship. So have 14 of the last 16 Game One winners overall.
“You want to make sure you get these wins,” Lester said. “Going to St. Louis is going to be very tough. You really have to bear down in this situation, play good baseball and get some W’s in front of the home crowd.”
The crowd celebrated early and often, especially in the first inning when the Red Sox got a huge break from the umpires.
Starter Adam Wainwright walked leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury and gave up a single to Dustin Pedroia one out later. David Ortiz followed with a slow chopper to Matt Carpenter at second that looked like it could be an inning-ending double play, but shortstop Pete Kozma dropped Carpenter’s flip to second and everybody was safe.
Or were they? Umpire Dana Demuth ruled Pedroia out at second, saying Kozma was transferring the ball out of his glove to relay to first. Boston manager John Farrell bolted out of the dugout to protest the call, which replays clearly showed was a poor one because the ball simply ticked off the edge of Kozma’s glove.
The umpires huddled and reversed the call, ruling Pedroia safe and loading the bases. That brought Cardinals manager Mike Matheny out for an extended argument of his own but he really had no case.
“I was just trying to slide in there and break up two,” Pedroia said. “He calls you out you have to run off the field but I’m glad they got it right. They have great umpires out here. They put their heads together and get it right, that’s the best way to do things.”
“It was pretty obvious it wasn’t on the transfer,” said Ortiz, who later cranked a two-run homer in the seventh off Buffalo-born lefty Kevin Siegrist.
Still, it was a shock to see the men in blue actually turn the call around.
“Typically, they’re probably going to stand pat with the decision that’s made in the moment,” Farrell said. “But they got the call right. It is a pretty big swing moment.”
“It’s a pretty tough time to debut that overruled call in the World Series,” said Matheny, who admitted he had not seen a replay before he met reporters. “Now, I get that they’re trying to get the right call. Tough one to swallow.”
It was made even worse when Napoli torched a 2-0 pitch to the wall in left-center to clear the bases, with Ortiz trucking home all the way from first as center fielder Shane Robinson struggled with the ball.
“I love this stage. It’s in the spotlight,” said Napoli, who was nearly the Series MVP in 2011 for Texas before the Cardinals roared back to the win the Series in Game Seven.
The Cardinals uncharacteristically crumbled by making three errors, two from Kozma, and lost right fielder Carlos Beltran to an apparent rib injury in the second inning. They had made just three errors in their previous 11 postseason games.
Beltran – making his first Series appearance after 2,064 regular season games and 45 postseason appearances – went over the short bullpen wall in right field to make a spectacular snare of an Ortiz drive that would have been a grand slam and was instead a sacrifice fly.
Beltran had X-rays on his ribs but they were negative. About the only small victory the Cardinals had on this night.
“We had a wakeup call,” Matheny said. “That is not the kind of team that we’ve been all season. They’re frustrated, sure. Embarrassed to a point.”
The Boston second started one of the more bizarre infield singles in Series history as Stephen Drew’s popup in front of the mound landed between Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina. Another error by Kozma contributed to more trouble, with Pedroia’s RBI single and Ortiz’s sacrifice fly on the Beltran catch making it 5-0.