While it did not look like the typical Cardinals team in Game 1 of the World Series, we can write off the 8-1 loss as just a bad game. Those happen over the course of a long season. It just so happens, that it came at the start of the biggest series of the year. The Cardinals must turn this thing around quickly. Going back to St. Louis down 2-0 against the Boston Red Sox would be sure trouble.
Adam Wainwright pitched to history and fortunately for the Sox, they were able to get to him early. When Wainwright struggles, it’s usually in the first two innings. His first inning ERA this season was 6.09. His only other difficult inning tends to be the sixth, as I’m sure it is for most pitchers who tire and have to face an order for the second or third time through.
As much as Wainwright may have struggled leaving pitches up in the zone or missing his off speed pitch in that first, he made a pitch to David Ortiz that should have left him with a runner on third and two outs. Instead the bases were loading with one out.
Wainwright’s botched attempt at a pop up did not help his cause either in the second which eventually led to another bases loaded jam. If not for the good play by Carlos Beltran, the second inning would have been far worse than two runs.
Moving forward for game two, we can say wash away the ill-effects of game one and move on. However, there are decisions that manager Mike Matheny will be faced but, they should be easy answers.
Daniel Descalso needs to get the start at shortstop. Pete Kozma was brought in for defensive reasons, but for this game, Matheny needs offense. Struggling Jon Jay will be back in the order, light hitting Shane Robinson may have to play right for Carlos Beltran, who is listed as day-to-day with bruised ribs after hitting the wall, saving a would-be grand slam. Matheny needs offense as the Cardinals go up against John Lackey.
The 34 year old Lackey is 2-0 this postseason, but fared much better against a free-swinging and slumping Detroit Tigers team than he did against a more disciplined group of hitters like the Tampa Bay Rays. In that win over the Rays, Lackey gave up four runs on seven hits with three walks in 5.1 innings. The Cardinals need hitters who will battle Lackey. Descalso can help spark the lineup.
The Cardinals will start Michael Wacha. There is nothing about Wacha’s pitching in the last month and a half that suggests he won’t deliver a solid performance. He’s 3-0, with a 0.43 ERA this post season. In his last four starts, he’s allowed just two earned runs and 31 strikeouts, dating back to his near no-hitter late in the season against Washington.
My one point of concern I would have is that Wacha has never pitched from behind in a series. Now, he did outstanding on the road in a hostile PNC Park, but the series against Pittsburgh was tied 1-1. He was at home for both wins against the Dodgers.
Fenway Park looked very unsettling for the Cardinal players, even the veterans. How does Wacha pitch, against a very good offense, in a loud atmosphere, with the prospects of his team falling behind two games to none? As I said, nothing has shown me this kid can’t handle the pressure and he may just be the guy the Cardinals actually need for game two.