The St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox opened the 2013 World Series with a game that developed so many subplots that it could easily become a major distraction for the Cardinals going forward. St. Louis lost the game and could very easily lose their edge if they cannot put the events of the night behind them.
The Cardinals' defense let them down when they needed it most, their ace pitcher failed to perform at the level he needed to, their star postseason performer ended up at the hospital and the team woke up to reports that the opposing pitcher may have been cheating to gain an advantage. Game 1 of the World Series proved to be a night full of stories, subplots and forgettable moments for the National League Champions. The Cardinals need to take each of those subplots and apply to them to Game 2.
Defense is a key component to winning championships, and the Cardinals drove that point home in Game 1. A botched double play in the bottom of the first inning allowed the Red Sox to strike first and never look back. Pete Kozma, who failed to catch the throw from Matt Carpenter to start that double play, has secured his spot in the starting lineup by playing stellar defense throughout the season. He would commit his second error of the game in the second inning, leading to another Boston run in the process. Third baseman David Freese would add a throwing error in the seventh inning as well.
The defense has to shore up and play better in Game 2. Dropped balls and botched plays created multiple scoring opportunities for the Red Sox. If the Cardinals hope to come home with a split of the two-game series in Boston, they have to play better on the defensive side of the ball.
Composure On The Mound
The Cardinals pitching seemed to lose focus on the mound in the wake of the fielding mistakes. Ace Adam Wainwright failed to show poise on the mound, surrendering a bases-clearing double to Mike Napoli immediately after the botched double play in the first. Kozma's error in the second was followed by a run-scoring single from Dustin Pedroia. The next hitter, David Ortiz, tried to hit his second grand slam of the postseason but was robbed of his home run by Carlos Beltran. Ortiz wouldn't be robbed the second time, hitting a home run in the bottom of the seventh inning off of Seth Maness immediately after Freese's throwing error. Wainwright and Maness lacked the composure necessary on the mound to rebound from the mistakes of their team.
Rookie sensation Michael Wacha takes the mound for Game 2 for the Cardinals. The young pitcher has shown great composure thus far in the postseason but will enter a volatile environment in Boston. He will need to avoid the pratfalls of his predecessors in Game 1 if he is going to bring home another victory.
Beltran's Banged Up
Carlos Beltran played 16 years in the major leagues before he played his first game in a World Series. By the end of the second inning of Game 1, he was out of the game with bruised ribs after robbing David Ortiz of a potential grand slam. Beltran is one of the most prolific hitters in postseason history, and the Cardinals may now face the remainder of this series with him in a limited role. The St. Louis team remains hopeful that he can return to action tonight after the diagnosis last night, as shared by StlToday.com's Derrick Goold:
Beltran was taken to a hospital for X-rays and a CT scan, which were negative. He returned to the clubhouse in the seventh inning. General manager John Mozeliak said Beltran was “day-to-day.”
To make matters worse, Allen Craig does not seem ready to play the field, limiting the Cardinals' options going forward. Earlier in the season, Craig would have taken over in right field and Matt Adams would stay play first base, giving the Cardinals an option that kept key offensive players in those positions. As it stands, Shane Robinson will probably see time in the outfield in Game 2, and Beltran may be limited to a bench role.
The Mysterious Substance
Long after the final pitch of Game 1, news began to surface that there was suspicion that Red Sox's hurler Jon Lester was using a foreign substance on his glove to gain an advantage on the mound. Videos and tweets were posted across the internet, most being compiled very well right here on Bleacher Report in an earlier article by Rick Weiner.
The Cardinals cannot get caught up in the momentum of conspiracy theories going forward. Game 1 was lost and Game 2 is quickly approaching. General Manager John Mozeliak seemed quick to dismiss the discussion about the incident, as shared by MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch in the following tweet:
Game 1 has provided many distractions for the Cardinals going forward. The team has the talent and the ability to win despite all of these subplots. Focus and determination to continue to play as the team that they have been throughout 2013 will help them turn Game 2 around. Returning to St. Louis with one win in Boston can swing momentum the Cardinals' way.
Game 2 promises to be a key moment in this year's series.
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