From worst to first, the Red Sox journey to put their finishing touches an incredible turnaround began tonight, as Jon Lester faced off versus Cardinals' ace Adam Wainwright in Game 1 of the 109th World Series.
Lester was pretty darn good tonight. Most of the time he was electric and located on both sides of the plate, but he did get into some jams as the game progressed. The fourth inning was a hiccup for Lester, loading the bases, but both he and David Ross turned a nice double play on a grounder back to the mound. The fifth inning was another bump, as he had to fight with runners on second and third. Besides that, Lester was pretty freakin' good shutting out the Cardinals.
Lester's line: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 8 K, 112 pitches
For the offense, Jacoby Ellsbury got things started with a walk, which is very uncharacteristic of Wainwright. Both Victorino (although right at Holliday) and Pedroia hit the ball with authority, who got on base for Big Papi. Right at that moment, you knew Wainwright was going to have his struggles for the night.
Things almost came to a hault though, as a very controversial call when Ortiz grounded to second and SS Pete Kozma dropped the ball for a bid at double-play, but the umpire called Pedroia out at secon; a horrendous call to say the least. Like, not even close. However, the umpires met and Pedroia was called safe at second. Unreal, you never see a situation like that. This is exactly why replay needs to exist in this game.
Now all of a sudden, the bases were loaded with one out and Wainwright was in even more trouble with the hottest bat in the lineup approaching, Mike Napoli. Napoli didn't disappoint, as he cleared the bases with a rocket double to left center, giving the Sox a 3-0 lead.
The 2nd inning wasn't any better for Wainwright, as he let a routine pop-up, that a little-leauger could easily field, drop and Kozma committed yet another error, loading the bases again. Pedroia took advantage with a grounder past 3B David Freese to give a Sox a 4-0 cushion. Ortiz followed and was ROBBED of a grand slam by RF Carlos Beltran with a fantastic read on the ball and catch. However, Beltran left the game with a right rib contusion due to hitting the bullpen wall. Either way, the Sox took a 5-0 lead and Wainwright's "pop-up stare" becomes a legend.
The offense went silent after the first two innings until Papi launched a shot over the Red Sox bullpen against Kevin Siegrist in the 7th inning, putting the Sox at a distant 7-0. If you think about it, that should have been his second homer on the night with 6 RBI. Bogaerts added a sac-fly RBI in the 8th to make it 8-0.
Following Lester's depature in the 8th, Junichi Tazawa came on in relief and Ryan Dempster followed in the 9th for mop-up duty (solo-shot allowed to Holliday).
All in all, a perfect Game 1 for the Red Sox. From Lester to the big bats, you couldn't ask for a bigger statement game. John Lackey takes the hill tomorrow night to sqaure off against Cardinals' rookie sensastion Michael Wacha. First pitch is at 8:07pm.