The St. Louis Cardinals should be ashamed.
Starter Adam Wainwright and Co. went to Fenway Park and were waxed 8-1 in a contest that saw the Cardinals do nothing properly—"deer in the headlights" is an apt way to put it.
Jon Lester silenced the Cardinals bats with over seven innings of scoreless work from the mound. Wainwright was lost, as were the batters at the plate, and the most fundamental plays in baseball seemed difficult for a team that won 97 games in the regular season.
As hopeless as it looks, the Cardinals are still in this thing.
But yes, it really does look like a long shot based on the stats via ESPN:
Red Sox are 6th team in the past 30 seasons to win Game 1 of World Series by at least 7 runs. 4 of the other 5 went on to win the series— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 24, 2013
Good news Red Sox fans...The Game 1 winner has gone on to win #WorldSeries 21 out of 25. Including 9 of the last 10.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) October 24, 2013
Here's what the Cardinals need to do to right the ship and get back on track.
Strong Pitching Led by Michael Wacha
David Ortiz and the Boston offense appear dialed in as expected, as the Red Sox bats were only going to lie dormant for so long.
Ortiz almost hit a grand slam early, only to be robbed by Carlos Beltran (whom we'll touch on soon), but he wound up hitting a home run later in the contest anyway.
The key for St. Louis is simple: Silence the bats. The Cardinals can very easily do this in Game 2 from Fenway with the youngster Michael Wacha on the mound. Wacha is the hot hand as the NLDS MVP with a 3-0 record and one run allowed in over 20 innings.
After Wacha's critical matchup, the pitching duels favor the Cardinals, as Clay Buchholz is dealing with an injury and will not be able to go until at least Game 4, per Sportscenter:
BREAKING: Clay Buchholz will not start for Red Sox in Game 3 of World Series. Jake Peavy will start for Boston.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 24, 2013
This pushes Jake Peavy into the starting role in the first game at Busch Stadium, and savvy fans will remember Peavy most recently allowed seven runs to the Detroit Tigers in about three innings of work in the ALCS.
The matchups are there. St. Louis just needs to take advantage.
Offensive Production from Stars
This involves taking advantage of the woes currently plaguing the Red Sox pitching rotation. While it sounds simple, the Cardinals were anything but offensively productive in Game 1.
Jon Lester shut out the Cardinals, and it's time for St. Louis to take advantage in the following games.
Part of the issue was the absence of Carlos Beltran after his lone at-bat thanks to his stellar play at the wall, which robbed the Red Sox of four runs but also sent Beltran to the hospital, per the team's official Twitter account:
INJURY UPDATE: Carlos Beltran taken to a local hospital for an examination.— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 24, 2013
Overall, St. Louis left six runs on base and went just 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position. Matt Holliday was the only saving grace for St. Louis with two hits, but his home run came in the top of the ninth with the game already in hand.
For a team that seemingly had no issues routinely scoring around five runs or more in the previous two series, now is not the time for the Cardinals bats to hit a slump.
Return to Basics
Here's Game 1 summed up in one moment for St. Louis: Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina both misplay a routine pop-up and allow it to fall for a base hit, causing the packed crowd at Fenway Park to literally laugh.
In other words, the Cardinals were out of their league Wednesday night.
Mike Matheny put it best:
“We had a wake‑up call. That is not the kind of team that we've been all season." - Mike Matheny #PostCards— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 24, 2013
In the end, a good team made mistakes, and an equally good team capitalized on each one. It's back to the drawing board for the Cardinals, as that kind of sloppy play will end this series in a similar fashion to the teams' encounter in 2004.
To avoid the brooms, the Cardinals simply need to get back to basics.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling