BOSTON -- Think back a bit. The 1986 World Series. The Bill Buckner game, followed by a Game 7 loss in which the Red Sox a) blew a 3-0 lead and b) couldn't tie the score despite having a runner in scoring position with no outs in the eighth inning.
Apparently, the baseball gods decided that was enough heartbreak for any franchise. Because since then -- in the World Series, anyway -- it's been nothing but sunshine and roses for the Red Sox.
After sweeping to championships in 2004 and 2007, the Sox made it nine straight Series victories Wednesday night with an 8-1 rout of the Cardinals in Game 1 at Fenway Park. Jon Lester was the hero, with 7 2/3 shutout innings -- counting his performance in the Game 4 clincher in Colorado in 2007, he's unscored upon in 13 1/3 career innings in the World Series -- and he had help from Mike Napoli, who got the Sox started with a three-run double in the first inning, and David Ortiz, who put it away with a two-run homer in the seventh.
"A lot of things went right for us," said Napoli. "But we had to take advantage of it, and we did."
It started in the first inning, with the overturned call that preceded Napoli's bases-clearing double. Then, leading off the second, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina let a popup halfway to the mound by Stephen Drew fall untouched between them, and the Sox were off and running again. David Ross followed with a single to center and, after Jacoby Ellsbury flied out, Shane Victorino reached on the second error of the game by shortstop Pete Kozma -- a tough error; even though he bobbled and eventually dropped the ball, it was hit into the hole at shortstop and it seemed unlikely Kozma had a play anywhere -- to load the bases.
Dustin Pedroia singled home Drew, making it 4-0. Ortiz was then robbed of a grand slam by Cardinal right fielder Carlos Beltran, who reached into the St. Louis bullpen to snare his bid for anoither postseason homer. Ross, however, was able to walk home with the fifth run, and Beltran bruised his ribs and had to leave the game.
The only jam Lester had to pitch out of came in the fourth, when St. Louis loaded the bases with one out. But he induced David Freese to bounce into a home-to-pitcher-to-first double play, ending the inning and ending the night for St. Louis. The Sox made it 7-0 on a two-run homer by Ortiz in the seventh and 8-0 on a sacrifice fly by Xander Bogaerts in the eighth. Matt Holliday got the Cardinals on the board with a ninth-inning home run off Ryan Dempster.
"It's great," said Lester of the nine-game Series winning streak. "But that's something that we can talk about at the end, when everything is all said and done. Right now we're focused on ‑‑ we'll enjoy this one and come in tomorrow and be ready to go for Game 2.
"That's all we can worry about right now is just the next one, the next task at hand, and hopefully [John Lackey, the Game 2 starter for Boston] goes out there and does a good job for us.