When the 2013 World Series began Wednesday night at blustery Fenway Park little did we know what the Cardinals had planned for the viewing audience. It was a comedic tribute to the 2004 World Series 10 years after. Mental errors and physical errors. Futility and frustration. Slapstick and silliness. A no-show of startling proportions. The Cardinal Way? No more like a Cardinal sin. They went the wrong way in Game 1. It was a real crowd pleaser for the 38345 pilgrims of Red Sox Nation who faithfully jammed into the ancient baseball grounds to see the Cardinals inspire fond memories of the ‘04 sweep. The Red Sox should have brought back Keith Foulke and Doug Mientkiewicz for the reunion. After two innings of Game 1 the Red Sox led 5-0 and the Cardinals had made so many mistakes and looked so overwhelmed you wanted to send them back to that ‘04 hotel in Quincy without any pudding. You could say this was a revival of the ‘04 Fall Classic … except that after being mauled and embarrassed 8-1 in Game 1 the Cardinals need to revive themselves in '13. Why did the St. Louis Browns show up and who invited them? You could laugh this off as just one particularly hideous performance a humiliating stumble that can befall any team at any time from the beginning of April until the end of October. The Cardinals came to Boston looking to win two games. Realistically one victory would make this a positive trip. And the Cards can still accomplish that by taking Game 2 tonight. But there can't be another clown show. It's time to dump the 2004 oldies act “We have to stay positive” Cards’ DH Allen Craig said. “Obviously it’s tough. You don’t want to lose the first game of the World Series but we’re going to be positive until the end. That attitude’s gotten us a long ways over the last few years.” The degree of difficulty just increased because the Cardinals lost right fielder Carlos Beltran to a right rib contusion. It tenderized when Beltran slammed into the fence while snatching a grand-slam homer from Red Sox man mountain David Ortiz. Beltran’s status is uncertain. You could say the same about the Cardinals. It’s easy to shake off a terrible game and say go get ‘em tomorrow. It’s not so easy to shake off an alarming injury to one of your most important players. You can put Shane Robinson in right field but you can’t replace Beltran who has put up Babe Ruth numbers Lou Gehrig numbers during his postseason career. How cruel was this? Beltran had been playing in the majors since September 1998 and he’d finally reached the World Series. In the unfulfilled quest to get there Beltran had spent his entire career running into a metaphorical wall. And once he made it to the World Series … he ran into a real wall. Beltran’s condition is the team’s most urgent concern. But it’s hardly the only concern. This team had better exhale _ even as it holds its breath waiting to see if Beltran can recover in time to reclaim his favorite month. (Somewhere the Dodgers and Hanley Ramirez are smiling.) Officially the Cardinals committed three errors Wednesday but could have been charged with five or seven or nine. (Or so it seemed.) A team defense that ranked near the bottom of the major leagues in every credible defensive-metrics rating system sank to the bottom of the Boston Harbor in this one. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright couldn’t command his cutter or curve and couldn’t prevent himself from playing right into Boston’s usual calm approach. The trap was set and Waino couldn't avoid it. The Red Sox wisely waited him out and pounced on Wainwright’s mistakes up in the zone. Perhaps the Red Sox had a plan — or at least a wish. For all of his outstanding work this season Wainwright was vulnerable in first innings of games. Teams batted .326 with a .518 slugging percentage against Wainwright in the first inning and his first-inning ERA was an inflated 6.09. Sure the defense failed Wainwright in the three-run first inning. (The Pete Kozma play. You don’t want me to review that. You saw it enough the first time even if umpire Dana DeMuth didn't.) Wainwright failed himself in the two-run second inning by calling for a pop up only to let it plop to the ground. (Was he auditioning to return punts for the Rams?) Wainwright was smacked for some high-velocity line drives. He simply didn’t have it. The tip off came immediately with his leadoff walk to Jacoby Ellsbury in the bottom of the first. Coming into the World Series I believed the Cardinals had an advantage in the front end of their rotation. Wainwright and Michael Wacha were capable of dominance and if they were on form the Cardinals couldn’t be stopped. Yeah and Alex Rodriguez is really popular in Boston. I should have written that too. Manager Mike Matheny inexplicably kept Wainwright in the fray for five full innings that required 95 pitches. Including the postseason Wainwright has pushed himself to the most innings (269.2) in the majors this year. Suppose Matheny is inclined to bring back Wainwright on short rest this series? The 95-pitch night didn't help the cause. This was a good time to check on Shelby Miller (is he still alive out there?) and give Wainwright a breather in advance of a potential rematch with the Sox. Matheny ended up staging a parade of Cardinals’ relievers anyway. I think he was trying to summon Julian Tavarez but I can't be certain. At least all of the young Cardinals got a chance to get acclimated to the full Fenway experience. They could see the happy festive crowd sing “Sweet Caroline.” They saw the Red Sox the best team the Cardinals have played this season. They saw the beast; now maybe they can do something about stopping it. You see this is also the Cardinal way. They goof up and bounce back. How many times did we watch them through these maddening cycles?
Cardinal Way? Game 1 was the wrong way
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Oct 24