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Red Sox capitalize on Cardinals’ blunders in Game 1

Oct 24, 2013, 1:48 AM EDT

BOSTON — You ever had one of those days when nothing goes right? I’m not talking about big and tragic things going wrong, no, just little things. Little stupid things. You wake up a half hour late because a blackout knocked out your alarm clock. Because of the blackout, the water in the shower is ice. You can’t find your keys. Your car is almost out of gas, so you have to stop at a gas station. You quickly realize you left your wallet at home. You scrounge enough change out of your ashtray to pay for .9 gallons worth. Your boss is waiting when you show up late. The “E” key on your computer is stuck and you can’t fix it. Nobody is around in the tech department. You want a snack but you left your wallet at home. You miss the call back from the tech department. Your boss wants the report, but you have to tell her your computer broke. She angrily suggests you call the tech department. You go out to lunch with borrowed money and get pulled over for a busted tailpipe — and you don’t have your driver’s license because you left your wallet at home. And on. And on. And on.

This was World Series Game 1 for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The final score was 8-1 Boston, the final box score showed the Cardinals committing three errors, throwing one wild pitch, hitting into one devastating double player and striking out five times looking. But those numbers don’t capture the St. Louis feeling. It was embarrassing. It was humiliating. It was so utterly frustrating. There they were in Fenway Park at the World Series, the childhood dream, and then stuff started going wrong, and more stuff started going wrong, and the Boston players fed on their clumsiness, and more stuff went wrong, and the Boston crowd roared happily, like they could not even believe their good fortune. And more stuff went wrong.

The horror probably began with the blown call. That was the first inning, Boston had runners on first and second with one out when David Ortiz hit a ground ball to second that seemed a likely double play. St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter fielded it cleanly and threw to shortstop Pete Kozma. The ball grazed off Kozma’s glove. It was a dreadful defensive play by Kozma, a lost-in-the-fog moment, but umpire Dana DeMuth one-upped him. He called the runner out at second. He apparently thought Kozma had caught the ball and it had popped out when he was making the exchange from glove to hand.

I’m not sure how DeMuth could have thought that. Replays showed two thing clearly — 1) they showed that Kozma did not come close to catch the ball and 2) they showed DeMuth looking RIGHT AT THE PLAY. But he missed the call, the runner was sent off, it was first and third with two outs for Boston.

Only then Red Sox manager John Farrell came out and, I like to think, told DeMuth he had just made the worst World Series call in a quarter century and that he might be remembered for it forever. Maybe Farrell didn’t say that. Whatever he did say, the next thing you knew there were six umpires huddled together to talk about the play. They talked for roughly nine hours. And then, finally, they overruled DeMuth and called the runner safe. It was now bases loaded and one out for Boston.

That put Cardinals manager Mike Matheny in a dreadful spot. On the one hand, he had to go out and argue vociferously — umpires almost NEVER overturn calls. It was so out of character that even Farrell would later admit, “Typically they’re probably going to stand pat.” On the other hand, though, Matheny KNEW the original call was not just wrong but dreadfully, horribly wrong. It wasn’t just a missed judgment call. It was a colossal blunder. The umpires awkwardly had gotten the call right. But they had gotten it right by doing things they almost never do.

“I get trying to get the right call,” Matheny said after the game. “I get that.”

The way Matheny said it, no, you didn’t think he got it at all. That odd overturn was the kick start, it was like waking up a half hour late. It knocked the Cardinals off-balance and they never did regain their balance. They never quite caught up. The next batter, Mike Napoli, cracked a three-run double to left-center. Cardinals’ centerfielder Shane Robinson kicked the ball around a bit in the outfield, which probably allowed that third run to score. Originally that was called an error. Later, the official scorer took the error away. I can only assume it was mercy.

Next inning, Boston’s Stephen Drew hit a pop-up almost straight up. It was a play every Little League team featuring players 10-and-over would make. This time, the ball dropped one foot in front of St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright, who has won a Gold Glove and is one of the better fielding pitchers in the game. That was NOT called an error because … well, because the error is a dumb statistic. But three batters later, Shane Victorino hit a ground ball that shortstop Kozma booted and that WAS called an error. Two more runs scored. It would have been more if Carlos Beltran had not made an amazing and shockingly-graceful, over-the-wall catch on Ortiz’s would-be grand slam.

Beltran had to come out of the game after that because of the way he hit the wall.

All night it was like that. Even good things turned bad. Bad things turned worse. Cardinals hitters who had started off the game very aggressive (“No surprise, we were expecting that,” Red Sox starter Jon Lester would say) suddenly went timid. They watched strike after strike go by.

In the fourth, with a chance to get back into the game, St. Louis’ David Freese hit into a double play with the bases loaded. In the seventh, Freese made a throwing error to allow Dustin Pedroia to reach base. Matheny decided to bring in lefty Kevin Siegrist to face Ortiz. Lefties hit .118 against Siegrist this year and none had hit a home run off him. Until Ortiz. What a player. What a force. He launched the first pitch over the wall and into the stands in right-center. He trotted around the bases at Big Papi speed. He came out of the dugout to acknowledge the cheers.

The Cardinals just looked utterly lost. People will try to assign reasons because that’s what we do at big sporting events. We try to find logical explanations for sometimes illogical things. We will say the intense pressure of the World Series crushed the Cardinals. We will say the Boston crowd simply imposed their will. We will say it was the Fenway ghosts. Maybe it was those things. Maybe not. Maybe it was just one of those rotten days.

“We had a wakeup call,” Matheny would say afterward. “That is not the kind of team we’ve been all season. I think we’re frustrated. Embarrassed to a point. We had an opportunity to show the kind of baseball we played all year long, and it didn’t look anything like we showed today.”

The numbers are not promising for the Cardinals or any other team that loses the first game of the World Series. Those teams lose almost two-thirds of the time. In the last quarter century only the 1996 and 2009 Yankees, the 2002 Angels and the 1992 Blue Jays have lost the first game and come back to win the World Series.

But the Cardinals are a good baseball team. And it was just one bad day. In baseball, you find, there are people who believe in momentum carrying over and people who do not. As you might imagine, the Cardinals are now firmly in the camp of people who do not.

“These days,” Matheny said with a shrug, “you just have to let go of them.”

  1. clavette - Oct 24, 2013 at 3:10 AM

    alarm clock?? i thought everyone just used their cell phone for that

    • henryd3rd - Oct 24, 2013 at 7:10 AM

      Not everyone in is married to their smart phones. Some of us even turn them off at night or heaven forbid leave them in another room at night.

  2. theskinsman - Oct 24, 2013 at 5:15 AM

    It’s only one game. But I enjoyed every bit of it.

    • henryd3rd - Oct 24, 2013 at 7:12 AM

      I missed that game because I was trying to set my alarm clock.

  3. proudlycanadian - Oct 24, 2013 at 6:38 AM

    They may have made a few blunders, but we all know that the Cardinals play the game the right way.

    • bostonjerry23 - Oct 24, 2013 at 7:34 AM


      • paperlions - Oct 24, 2013 at 7:57 AM

        It is PCs attempt at being a dick.

  4. jarathen - Oct 24, 2013 at 7:51 AM

    I like how much talk there has been about “The Cardinals Way” and then Tim McCarver, oblivious to the dripping irony, said, “Nothing is going the Cardinals’ way today.”

    Indeed. Honestly, I don’t care too much who wins the World Series, but there was some schadenfreude at seeing a team that had been deified for their recent success look amateur last night. All this talk about how October is “handed down” from one generation of Cardinals to the next and all that made me sick, so seeing that come undone was nice.

    Sorry, Cards fans. It’s just been a bit much lately.

    • Nate - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:59 AM

      As a Cards fan that hates the “Best Fans in Baseball” myth-building, I would hope that you’re able to tell the difference between a passionate fanbase and a media looking to tell a contrived story.

      • jarathen - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

        I just want the media to stop talking about it.

        I honestly think that with the first game over, some of the overdramatic storytelling will abate (though I think “B” Strong will not). I just like to watch the game without all of the mythos. The history being made is happening on the field, not in books already written.

  5. paperlions - Oct 24, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    Well, that couldn’t have gone much worse. I suppose if somehow Holliday and Molina collided resulting in both having concussions and the UCLs of every pitcher used explded it would have been worse….but that is about it.

  6. patriotsdefense - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    I actually blame Matheny for the unraveling. The blown call took a long time inbetween batters for Wainwright. It was clearly a bad call. I understand Matheny needed to go aruge. But he kinda flipped out. He spent at least 2 to 3 mins arguing with the umps. It all seems hallow though because he was arguing against what was obvious. I understand arguing, but making it into a 3 minute sidebar of him flipping out on the field hurt his starting pitcher who continued to have to have to wait and and wait until he finally got to pitch to Napoli.

  7. indaburg - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:11 AM

    With all due respect, Joe Pos–I’m a huge fan–but your first paragraph read to me like Alanis Morisette’s dreadful song “Ironic.” She wrote an entire song titled “Ironic” and the irony of it is that she didn’t know the meaning of the word.

    Anyhow, it’s just one loss. This is when you hope your team gets over things as quickly as Prince Fielder. It’s over, man. Yes, it’s an embarrassing loss and St. Louis puts a lot of stake in pride. Get over it. You don’t get style points in baseball. The loss counts the same even in Wainwright had pitched a 1-0 gem and lost. More concerning is Beltran’s injury.

    • jarathen - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:30 AM

      Anyone who is counting the Series as done at this point is deluding themselves. It’s one game and momentum is a myth. The Angels got tagged 16-4 in Game 5 in 2002 and then were down 5-0 in the elimination game before it all flipped over.

      I imagine the Cardinals will bounce back and make it competitive, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if took a game in Missouri for that to happen.

    • aceshigh11 - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:42 AM

      I find your post highly ironic.

      Don’t you think?

      • indaburg - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:08 AM

        Yeah, just like rain on your wedding day. Or a green light when you’re already late.

  8. aceshigh11 - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    Who knew that part of the “Cardinals’ Way” included getting shivved in the shower and relentlessly ass raped for 9 innings?

    • jarathen - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:30 AM

      That is a dark analogy for a team that beat itself losing a baseball game.

    • Nate - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:01 AM

      Rape jokes. Classy.

      • stlouis1baseball - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:45 AM

        “Lester didn’t beat the Cards, they beat themselves.”

        Stop it. Just stop. The Red Sox took the Cardinals behind the wood shed.
        In other words…they beat their asses. To make excuses is to insult the other team.
        Much like some of the sorry ass Pirates and Dodgers fans during the NLDS and NLCS.
        The team that played far better baseball won. So don’t be an excuse maker.

        Fortunately, it’s a 7 game series and it’s on to game #2.

      • gostlcards5 - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:02 PM

        @ Nate – Totally agree….nuff said.

        @ stl1 – Agree here also. Yes, the Cardinals did some things to beat themselves, but the butt-whippin’ would not have happened if the Red Sox did not take advantage of those things to apply it. No excuses.

        Kudos to the Red Sox…timely hitting, and Lester was awesome. This year, as in many recently, the ‘birds have been good at compartmentalizing this type of loss and bouncing back from it. Hopefully, they will be able to do that tonight.

    • paperlions - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:07 AM

      If you wanted to announce that you are an asshole, typing “I am an asshole” is much faster and straight forward.

      Funny that so few people realized that when you said of Red Sox fans that “some of them are VERY obnoxious, rude and overbearing” that you were referring to yourself.

      • aceshigh11 - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:22 AM

        Who are you, Mother Cabrini? When did I ever say that I wasn’t part of that contingent of Red Sox fans?

        The Cardinals and their fans got exactly what was coming to them after a week of acting as if they’re better than everyone else.

        So now I’ve got a certified stalker, following me around the site and quoting my own words back to me.

        You’re one creepy, obsessive little bastard.

      • paperlions - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM

        I am obsessive? You are the one obsessing about your perception of another fan base and repeating posting assholish aggressive, juvenile bull shit…..but yeah, I am obsessive.

        You know the Cardinal fans you think you hate? Well, none of us that are posting here (not even fair-weather poster jhaegs) is as big of an asshole or as horrible a person as you are showing yourself to be.

  9. jimranes - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    As a Red Sox fan, I really enjoyed the game and my team. I have watched 153 Red games this year. They have had bad nights, but last night was not one of them. Jon Lester brought his A game. Our defense played very well. Our hitters did what they did all season…put pressure on the pitchers by getting long counts and hitting balls over the plate. I sincerely hope Carlos Beltran is OK. He is IMHO the best player on the Cardinals and his amazing catch was something else. There are six more games and I hope the Sox can win three more. Like most Red Sox fans, I have faith in them! Go Sox!

    • jimmyt - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:57 AM

      Does Lester’s “A” game include loaded up his glove with Vaseline or some other substance to gain an advantage with his breaking pitches?

      • Nate - Oct 24, 2013 at 9:02 AM

        Give it a rest. The Cardinals have had trouble with lefties not names Clayton Kershaw for the last decade or something.

        Lester didn’t beat the Cards, they beat themselves.

      • Anoesis - Oct 24, 2013 at 6:09 PM

        Except the Cards beat Kershaw five times this year.

  10. raysfan1 - Oct 24, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    For the Cards it seemed like quicksand; the more you struggle, the worse it gets.

    For those of use who don’t have a vested interest in either team, let’s hope the rest of the series is more competitive.

    • atlwmn - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:05 AM

      I might be the only one who heard Keanu Reeves when you mentioned quicksand. Ah, the Replacements. 😉

  11. 18thstreet - Oct 24, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    Not sure where to place this comment on this blog, so I’m putting it here.

    My favorite thing about the Red Sox right now is Shane Victorino complaining about called strikes. And I mean it. He’s making me laugh out loud. Dude stands right on top of the plate. Any relatively inside pitch that doesn’t hit him is, almost by definition, a strike. And he keeps arguing with the umpires at inside pitches. I’m loving how oblivious he is to how ridiculous he’s being.

    • rje49 - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Yeah, but the pitch he was most upset about was clearly too far inside. You saw it, didn’t you?

      • 18thstreet - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:17 PM

        Didn’t notice. I start with the assumption that he’s wrong.

      • anxovies - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:12 PM

        Victorino hangs his arms out over the plate. Any pitch that hits him on the hands or forearms is a strike. Watching him bat I have wondered why the pitchers don’t simply inform the ump of that fact and then throw a high hard one inside. After he gets nailed every time he comes up he will either get tired of getting hit or the umps will get tired of calling a hit batter on what is clearly a strike. Not the thing to do in the playoffs or WS, but it should be done in the regular season. Can you imagine what Gibson or Drysdale would do to this guy if he ever faced them?

  12. ayheartsf - Oct 24, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    OMG! MORE PLEASE! You all crack me up. LOVE the dig on Kershaw, Mr. L.A…..bwwaahahaha! I can only make fun of the dodgers because I am a Giants fan and ‘we’ just gave Lincecum a $35M deal so we’ll be taking plenty of flak for that… He’d better be freakier than ever next season.

  13. rje49 - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    As for 2nd base ump DeMuth “looking RIGHT AT THE PLAY”, isn’t it obvious that he was looking down toward the base, not up at the level of the ball and Kozma’s glove??? No excuse for blowing the call, but he couldn’t have been seeing what he needed to see.

  14. stupidthings5 - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    When the enitre pitching staff has career years out of nowhere, you have to wonder. First Buckholtz, now this guy. And Dempster and Lackey!? C’mon. Also, this year, the Redlux have come back 31 times in regular season with a 19-12 record. Additionally they won 15 games after being tied after the 7th inning. This doesn’t include 4 playoff luckbacks and being no-hit for two straight games, but almost winning both of them. And the Victorino close-my-eyes pop-out home run. There are breaks and there is just pure dumb luck – they’ve been doing it all year. Must be the beards. Also, why are pitchers pitching to Ortiz? Especially after his late season shipment came in.

  15. gmensox - Oct 24, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Wainwright hitting his head on the dougout roof wasn’t the only time he was hit hard last night!

  16. gostlcards5 - Oct 24, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    @ Joe Pos – I had the pleasure (yes, maybe a sick pleasure) of being tabbed to start umpiring in local little league games this year. I did 5 games during the 11-12’s season, then umpired 10 games over 2 days in a tournament after the season. (all this after having umpired one game in my life behind the plate, and maybe 2 or 3 on the bases).

    When you say that the replay “…showed DeMuth looking RIGHT AT THE PLAY.”, you’re making an assumption. The replays that I saw were relatively behind him. You cannot actually see what his eyes are watching. I can tell you just from my limited experience that from where he was standing, he should have had a great view of everything (the runner’s foot, Kozma’s foot, the ball hitting or going into the glove), and therefore the call should be no-brainer easy. However, it is easy to get caught up looking at one aspect of the play, rather than allowing your vision to expand to everything in front of you…tunnel vision, basically. After the game, DeMuth said he was watching the foot, and that makes a lot of sense to me (how he could miss it).

    Granted, it shouldn’t happen to these umps, because they’re pros, but everyone makes mistakes. DeMuth just picked a bad time to have one in front of a national audience on the biggest stage. I am glad that the umps conferred and got the call right, although I do agree that the wait to get it there was far too long, especially with all the arguments, and I would’ve been better with Matheny just shutting up, especially knowing that the original call was blatantly wrong. (and saying that, keep in mind, I have loved the guy, both when he was a player and now as the manager.)

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