Sox happy to take what Cards give in Game 1

Sox happy to take what Cards give in Game 1
October 24, 2013, 2:15 am
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GAME 1: RED SOX 8, CARDINALS 1

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BOSTON - In Game 1 of the World Series, the Red Sox did everything right.
      
Just in case that wasn't enough, their opponents, the St. Louis Cardinals, helped out by doing virtually everything wrong.
      
Was it any surprise, then, that the Sox won the Series opener as handily  - 8-1 - as they did?
      
Start with the Sox, who got a terrific start from Jon Lester (7 2/3 scoreless innings) and a balanced attack from their lineup, featuring hits from five different players, a run from another and an RBI from another. Only Jonny Gomes had an empty stat line from among their nine starting position players.
      
The Sox wasted no time jumping on Adam Wainwright, with three runs crossing the plate by the time the sixth hitter of the first inning stepped to the plate. With two more runs in the second, the game was effectively out of reach before half the lineup had batted twice.
      
And what the Red Sox didn't do for themselves, the Cardinals did for them.
      
First Pete Kozma flat-out dropped a double-play feed at second, a fact noticed by everybody in the ballpark and those watching at home, but not, initially, second base umpire Dana DeMuth.
      
Next came a bobble by center fielder Shane Robinson, aiding and abetting David Ortiz, who rounded third like a runaway freight train and reached home.
      
In the second, catcher Yadier Molina and Wainwright allowed a routine pop-up to drop between them and three batters later, Kozma booted a ball in the hole.
      
Gift-wrapped, just like that: Game 1 of the World Series. It was uncertain whether the Cards were thoughtful enough to include a card with their present.
      
"That's not the kind of team that we've been all season,'' said a glum Mike Matheny. "And they're frustrated. I'm sure embarrassed, to a point. We get an opportunity to show the kind of baseball we played all season long and it didn't look anything like what we saw tonight.''
      
There's something about playing the first game of a World Series at Fenway, apparently, that seems to unnerve teams.
      
In 2004, the Cardinals fell behind 7-2 in the Series opener before coming back to make it appear more respectable later in the game, but never regained their footing in the Series, falling in four straight.
      
In 2007, the Colorado Rockies were embarrassed 13-1 in Game 1, and like the Cardinals three years earlier, never recovered. They, too, were swept.
      
And now this edition of the Cardinals trips and spills all over themselves, as if they had been introduced to the game of baseball only hours earlier.
      
These Cardinals aren't inexperienced. Much of this group reached Game 7 of the NLCS last October and, of course, they've already won two series this year to reach the Series.
      
This was hardly what the Sox were expecting.
      
"They're a very good fundamental team,'' said Shane Victorino. "To see that kind of stuff? Being on the other side, he make (all the mistakes) you can. I want to see them make as many mistakes as they can. Surprised? it happens. They're battle-tested, a lot of those guys have played in the playoffs. For us, it was [all about] capitalizing on the situation, which we did tonight.''
      
The Sox have made a habit of taking advantage when the opponent stumbled. When Wil Myers misplayed a fly ball in Game 1 of the Division Series, the Sox pounced. When the Rays and, later, the Detroit Tigers ran into outs or uncorked wild pitches, the Sox made sure to make good on the opportunity.
      
"It working,'' said Victortino. "We definitely take it and run with it and that's definitely a positive for us. Any time you give an extra out to a good teams, most likely they're going to capitalize. We did and that's the most important thing.''
      
Catcher David Ross attempted to be somewhat diplomatic. Even after a one-sided, series-opening win, Ross has been around long enough to know that one  victory does not a series make.
      
"They do have a lot of playoff experience,'' said Ross, "but Fenway Park... a lot of those guys haven't been in Fenway Park, with the World Series and a sellout crowd and national television, too. That could be [a factor]. But I was definitely not expecting...''
      
Here's Ross's words trailed off. He wanted to finish his sentence: "definitely not expecting that.''
      
Instead, he decided on discretion as the better part of valor.
      
"We can't expect that going forward, obviously,'' he concluded.
      
The Sox have their gift. It's not likely to be offered them to again. But it sure is a nice head start.
      
"I've said from Day One, you have to minimize your mistakes,'' said Victorino. "When you don't, other teams capitalize and fortunately enough for us, we're on that end. We were able to capitalize.''
      
Advantage, Red Sox. Assist, Cardinals.