The 2013 World Series is heading to St. Louis. The Boston Red Sox took Game 1 by a score of 8-1, but the St. Louis Cardinals bounced back with a 4-2 victory during Game 2.
There's been no shortage of stunning developments early in the series. Superstar pitchers have underwhelmed, and under-the-radar stars have stepped up. Through all of the commotion, the underlying stories have become quite clear.
Here's what you should be watching for as the Fall Classic progresses.
|Game||Road Team||Home Team||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|1||St. Louis Cardinals (1)||Boston Red Sox (8)||Wednesday, Oct. 23||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
|2||St. Louis Cardinals (4)||Boston Red Sox (2)||Thursday, Oct. 24||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
|3||Boston Red Sox||St. Louis Cardinals||Saturday, Oct. 26||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
|4||Boston Red Sox||St. Louis Cardinals||Sunday, Oct. 27||8:15 p.m.||Fox|
|5||Boston Red Sox||St. Louis Cardinals||Monday, Oct. 28||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
|6 (if necessary)||St. Louis Cardinals||Boston Red Sox||Wednesday, Oct. 30||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
|7 (if necessary)||St. Louis Cardinals||Boston Red Sox||Thursday, Oct. 31||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
Boston's No-DH Decision
As the series shifts to St. Louis, the Red Sox have a very important decision to make. David Ortiz is currently the designated hitter, Mike Napoli is at first base, and both David Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have played well at catcher.
Without a designated hitter, however, the Red Sox will need to figure out a way to get their top two run producers, Ortiz and Napoli, consistently involved.
Before moving to his full-time position at designated hitter, Ortiz was a first baseman for both Boston and the Minnesota Twins. Napoli, meanwhile, was a catcher for the Texas Rangers before he moved to play first base in Boston.
Ortiz and Napoli haven't seen consistent playing time at their original positions, so it's beyond unlikely we'll see the duo return to those spots in St. Louis. Instead, manager John Farrell will need to find a way to create balance between the two as hitters.
Per Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Red Sox will give Ortiz at least one game at first base.
Farrell on @WEEI: Ortiz will be on field "one if not two" games in St. Louis— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) October 23, 2013
Three straight games on the road is a long stretch, and Boston must be fearing that inconsistent opportunities could mess with the current rhythm of Napoli or Ortiz.
Ortiz is one of the greatest postseason hitters to ever live, and he's showing it again in the World Series, which makes benching him a regrettable decision in any scenario. Napoli, meanwhile, has two home runs and five RBI in his past six games for the Red Sox.
One way or another, one of Boston's best hitters could be on the bench during key games. Perhaps most significantly, Big Papi could be on the bench of a World Series outing.
During Game 1, the Red Sox got the best of the Cardinals. Jon Lester threw an absolute gem, and Adam Wainwright's defense collapsed. Lester threw 7.2 shutout innings with eight strikeouts, while Wainwright allowed five runs, including three earned, in 5.0 innings.
During Game 2, John Lackey was absolutely dominant for 6.1 innings, but Craig Breslow failed to preserve the lead. Michael Wacha was strong throughout, with his one moment of weakness coming on a two-run homer hit by David Ortiz.
Come Game 3, we'll see the depth of each team's starting pitching rotations.
This has been an issue for both squads throughout the postseason. Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy both have ERAs above 5.40 for Boston during the 2013 playoffs, while Joe Kelly sits at 4.41 and Lance Lynn at 5.40 for St. Louis.
Will we see high-scoring affairs in St. Louis, or will those pitchers finally turn things around on the grandest stage of them all?
The answer to that question will go a long way toward determining the outcome of this series.
Through two games, the story of this series has been defense. Both teams have made very costly errors, and neither manager can be pleased entering Game 3.
Whichever team can cure those woes may just win.
During Game 1, Pete Kozma committed two costly errors and David Freese committed another for the Cardinals. Undocumented was the gaffe by Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, who let a pop-up fall between them.
This all led to Boston erupting with eight opportunistic runs, only five of which were earned.
During Game 2, Saltalamacchia mishandled a high pitch and allowed two runners to steal bases. Both players ended up scoring, and Craig Breslow's errant throw to third base lead to the game-deciding run being scored on an avoidable play.
Sloppy play has cost both teams early on. The first team to cut down on the unnecessary mistakes will gain the advantage in the World Series.