The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals are tied at one game apiece in the 2013 World Series, and Game 3 should be fantastic.
The Sox took the first game in dominant fashion, but the Cardinals showed resiliency in taking Game 2 in Boston.
What are the keys going forward for both teams? What does each team need to do to win the series?
Read on to find out.
Boston Red Sox
Someone other than David Ortiz needs to produce consistently.
They got good production in Game 1, especially from Mike Napoli and, of course, Ortiz.
But the bats went silent a bit, and Ortiz had the only RBI in Game 2. In fact, there were just total four hits by the Red Sox.
Even though the Sox are in the World Series, they struggled mightily at the plate in the ALCS. Remember, this is a team that just escaped a no-hitter against Detroit.
So it can't be all on Ortiz to continue to come up with big hits. We know he's going to do his thing, but if his offense is supplemented by guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes, the Sox should be fine.
The starters and the 'pen, for the most part, have been on point. Koji Uehara has been terrific all postseason, allowing just one run in 10 innings of work.
What is the biggest key for the Red Sox?
To win this series, it has to be on the offense. Ortiz will continue to hit, and it's likely that he will produce another magical moment. But he can't do it alone. They need contributions from the bottom half of the lineup. Stephen Drew has one hit. Xander Bogaerts doesn't have a hit. In the series so far, it's really just been Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia leading the way.
This is a talented team, so I expected it to break out of its doldrums. But there isn't too much time left. The Red Sox need to steal preferably two games in St. Louis. They won't do it if the offense struggles.
St. Louis Cardinals
Like the Sox, the Cards need to find their hitting stroke.
Other than Carlos Beltran, who has been fantastic all postseason and is probably first in line to win the MVP should the Cardinals win, there is no dominant offensive force.
Matt Holliday has been decent, but like the Red Sox, the Cardinals can't rely on simply Beltran.
While they did bounce back in Game 2, the Cardinals were uncharacteristically sloppy in Game 1. Three errors? By the Cardinals? Yeah, it doesn't seem right, and it's fair to wonder whether or not it will happen again. Did the pressure get to them? Or did they happen to have a bad game at the worst time?
It's tough to say, and the Cards deserve the benefit of the doubt given their track record. But they spoiled a game started by their ace, and by the time they get back around to Adam Wainwright it may be too late.
What is the biggest key for the Cardinals?
I really think that someone like Allen Craig, David Freese or Yadier Molina needs to step it up. Beltran has been terrific, but he can't do it alone.
The Cardinals have proven that they can beat just about anyone. They have experience and incredible poise, and have gotten some great performances, particularly from Michael Wacha, who may be the next great pitcher in baseball. But, as it always does, baseball comes down to fundamentals. Game 1 was a disaster, but you do have to give them credit for fighting back in Game 2.
If the pitching holds up and the fielding stays sane, then it's up to Holliday and company to help Beltran out. If they can, there's no reason why they won't win.
But if Beltran is the only one producing, the series might be over pretty quick.