With the World Series tied at 1-1, both the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals have some big questions that need answering as the series heads to Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals were able to tie up the series on Thursday night, winning 4-2 over the Red Sox despite a two-run home run from David Ortiz to put Boston up in the sixth inning.
However, the Cardinals came right back in the seventh with a wild play that resulted in two runs being scored on a sacrifice fly and a throwing error, followed by another run off of a Carlos Beltran single.
With two games down, let's take a look at a couple of questions each team needs to answer in order to take the World Series in 2013.
St. Louis Cardinals
Can Carlos Beltran Stay Hot With Rib Injury?
Beltran was able to rob a home run from Ortiz in Game 1, but it didn't matter, as the Red Sox easily won the game 8-1.
The Cardinals probably would have wished that Beltran didn't rob that home run. On the play, Beltran suffered a severe rib bruise, according to Matt Snyder of CBS Sports.
As bad as the injury was, it didn't seem to stop Beltran from playing a big game on Thursday. He went 2-for-4 at the plate along with a run on an RBI single in the seventh inning.
During the postseason, Beltran is hitting .273 with two home runs and 13 RBI, the most by any player so far in the playoffs.
He may have had a nice game on Thursday, but the real question is if he can continue this high level of success throughout the rest of the series. A rib injury can certainly impact the way Beltran hits, and that could make a difference in the next few games.
He looked fine in Game 2, but we will have to see if he can stay hot for the rest of the series.
Will Adam Wainwright Look Like His Usual Self During Next Start?
We did not see the Adam Wainwright we were used to in Game 1.
After looking so good in his first three postseason starts, Wainwright struggled in the first game of the World Series. He lasted just five innings after allowing five hits, three earned runs and five total runs as the Cardinals went on to lose.
Before the loss, Wainwright had allowed just four earned runs in 23 innings pitched this postseason while striking out 20 batters.
According to Anthony Gulizia from The Boston Globe, Wainwright had this to say about his performance:
I felt very out of synch tonight, unfortunately. It’s something usually I can make adjustments on the fly a lot quicker than I was able to tonight. It’s pretty disappointing to do that on this stage.
It was difficult from the first pitch on. I didn’t make it real tough on them. I threw a lot of balls out of the zone, no contest pitches, and a lot pitches up for them to hit. Kind of a perfect storm of pitching.
Everything I threw tonight was pretty garbage.
According to Deb Carson of Fox Sports Radio, the Cardinals announced that Wainwright would start on Monday in Game 5.
It's going to be a difficult test for Wainwright, as the Red Sox easily have the best offensive team in all of baseball this year. During the regular season, they hit .277 with 853 runs scored, the most of any team in the majors.
With how good Wainwright is, he should be able to bounce back, but there are no guarantees when going up against a lineup like the one Boston has.
Boston Red Sox
Can Jake Peavy Help Boston Take Game 3 in St. Louis?
The Red Sox need to take the momentum back from the Cardinals in Game 3, but it's not going to be easy as the series moves to Busch Stadium with Jake Peavy getting the starting nod.
Peavy dealt with an inconsistent regular season, posting a 4.17 ERA in 23 starts. In the postseason, he's started just two games, but he's posted an ERA of 8.31 with a .294 opposing batting average, lasting just 8.2 innings.
This is easily Peavy's biggest game of his entire career, but he says that he's ready. However, he's struggled during his career in the playoffs. Before this year, his previous two playoff starts were against the Cardinals in 2005 and 2006 while he was with the San Diego Padres. In those games, he allowed a total of 13 runs.
Boston made a big decision to trade for Peavy in the middle of the season, and this is his chance to prove that he was worth it.
Can the Offense Get Hot Once Again?
We already talked about how strong this offense is as a whole, but they haven't exactly been the same team offensively during the playoffs.
In their 12 postseason games, the Red Sox are batting just .228 with 55 runs. After averaging around 5.2 runs scored per game in the regular season, the bats have cooled down a bit in the playoffs with just 4.6 runs scored per game.
The Red Sox will have to rattle Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn in the next two games, and while both were really solid pitchers in the regular season, they've struggled in the playoffs. Kelly and Lynn have combined for 28 innings pitched, allowing 15 earned runs and 32 hits in six total games played.
The go-to guy to watch for has to be Ortiz in this series. He's been hitting .268 with 12 RBI while leading all hitters with five home runs this postseason. He's accounted for nearly one-fourth of Boston's runs driven in, and he's looking to cement his legacy as one of the best postseason hitters ever.
Boston certainly has an opportunity to drive in plenty of runs over the next two games, and that could completely change the series. If the Red Sox can hit like they did in the regular season, they're going to be in great shape.