D’oh! Cardinals at a loss after ugly performance in Series opener
|10.24.13 at 8:06 am ET|
Ace Adam Wainwright gave up five runs (three earned) in five innings, and that’s not who he is. Sure-handed shortstop Pete Kozma made a pair of errors, and that’s not who he is. Third baseman David Freese had a throwing error, and catcher Yadier Molina and Wainwright let a pop-up drop between them, and that’s not who they are, either.
Surely, after a 97-65 regular season, then dispatching the Pirates and Dodgers en route to the Series, the Cardinals are a better team than what they showed Wednesday, they said.
‘This is the way baseball goes sometimes,’ second baseman Matt Carpenter said. ‘When a play like [the first-inning error by Kozma] happens, it can kind of unravel. It seems like you can’t stop the bleeding, you’re down 5-0. It’s just one of those nights.’
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny, like each of his players, was disappointed in the fundamental breakdowns. He echoed their sentiment that this was not a representative example of Cardinals baseball.
‘We had a wake-up call,’ Matheny said. ‘That is not the kind of team that we’ve been all season. And they’re frustrated. I’m sure embarrassed, to a point.’
The first lapse resulted in a tone-setting call reversal in the first inning — Dustin Pedroia was eventually ruled safe at second when the umpires ruled Kozma never had the ball — and it opened the door for three Red Sox runs. On Mike Napoli‘s ensuing bases-clearing double, St. Louis centerfielder Shane Robinson bobbled the ricochet off the Green Monster, allowing David Ortiz score all the way from first.
An inning later ‘ after Jon Lester set the Cardinals down in order on 10 pitches — St. Louis got off to another rough start. Stephen Drew, 3-for-35 in the postseason entering Wednesday’s contest, skied a pop-up about 40 feet. Wainwright called for it, then watched as it fell between him and Molina.
Drew later scored on a Pedroia single.
‘I made the mistake of calling for it and then waiting for someone else to make the play instead of taking charge,’ Wainwright said. ‘I didn’t take charge on the mound, and I didn’t take charge on that play, and it cost us a lot of runs.’
Added Matheny: ‘That’s kind of in-between land where we typically tell our position players we want them to try to get that. It’s a very tough play on the catcher. But Adam Wainwright wanted that ball, and as soon as he came off the field he was talking about how he should have caught it.’
The only thing that did go right for the Cardinals early was Carlos Beltran‘s catch in right field to rob Ortiz of a grand slam. Even that, though, was an unfortunate victim of Murphy’s Law: Beltran left the game an inning later with a ‘sever rib bruise.’
All the while, Lester quieted the St. Louis bats. He went 7 2/3 shutout innings, scattering five hits and a walk while striking out eight. The innings and punch-outs matched his career high for postseason play.
‘He was keeping the ball down on both sides,’ Molina said of the Sox lefty. ‘It was difficult.’
As ugly as Wednesday was for the Cardinals, Game 2 should be a different story, they say — and hope.
‘We’ve been playing good all year long,’ Molina said. ‘These things are going to happen. You don’t want it to happen, but it’s going to happen. Hopefully we can leave this behind and hopefully come back tomorrow ready to go.’
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