Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/23/13
Just like that the World Series arrived at its first pivotal moment. With runners on first and second and one out David Ortiz tapped a groundball to second. Off the bat with the ball heading straight to Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter one presumes that shortstop Pete Kozma had the same curiosity. Instead of receiving the throw and either holding the ball or ensuring a safe transfer Kozma rushed to the point that the Carpenter’s flip clanged off his already closed glove. Yet Dustin Pedroia running from first to second on the play was ruled out by second base umpire Dana DeMuth who thought that Kozma fumbled the ball only after catching it while trying to transfer it to his throwing hand. The difference between a safe and out call was considerable. A safe ruling would mean the bases loaded and one out with Mike Napoli — possessor of a .458/.480/1.000 line with 31 RBI in 25 regular season plate appearances with the bases loaded — at the plate. The out call offered a runners-on-the-corners two-out path to potential escape (though a situation in which Napoli had still been an on-base machine having hit .286/.444/.457 in such moments in the regular season). Red Sox manager John Farrell ran out to DeMuth with a simple request: Just discuss the play. He asked DeMuth to get the feedback of the rest of his umpiring crew to see if they saw Kozma secure the ball or slap it away. The crew did just that and DeMuth’s call was overruled. Pedroia was ruled safe and summoned from the dugout back to second. Napoli dug in and after taking two pitches for balls knowing that Wainwright needed to come at him with a strike he demolished a 2-0 cutter sending a rocket into left-center for a three-run double. The plot line was familiar. Throughout the playoffs the Sox have taken sledgehammers to any cracks created by defensive lapses. Game 1 of the World Series represented more of the same. That was true both with Kozma’s first-inning miscue and again in the Sox’ two-run second when starter Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina watched helplessly as a Stephen Drew pop-up dropped between them and when with runners on first and second and one out Kozma kicked a grounder into the hole to his left for another error to load the bases. The Sox again took advantage with Pedroia bouncing an RBI single to left and David Ortiz nearly clubbing a grand slam but instead settling for a sac fly when Carlos Beltran made a spectacular catch reaching over the wall of the visitor’s bullpen a play on which one of the top postseason players of the last decade incurred a contusion of the ribs that forced him from the game. Two innings into the World Series the Red Sox for all intents and purposes had secured a Game 1 victory. The Sox breezed to an eventual 8-1 victory behind both the early offensive eruption and an absolutely overpowering performance from their starter Jon Lester. The winner of Game 1 of the World Series has gone on to win a title in 67 of the 108 prior World Series (62 percent). The teams will resume the series at Fenway Park on Thursday with John Lackey looking to give the Sox a 2-0 advantage and Cardinals starter Michael Wacha trying to even the series.
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