St. Louis — the real Cardinals, not the clumsy imposters of Game 1 — overcame a go-ahead two-run homer by Boston’s David Ortiz with a three-run rally in the seventh inning to knot this struggle at a game apiece.
The key play of the night was a game-tying sacrifice fly by Matt Carpenter in that seventh that turned into a disastrous Red Sox circus. Reliever Craig Breslow, backing up home plate, suddenly found himself in possession of an errant throw. In a moment of haste or panic or simple human fallibility, Breslow tried to throw out the Cardinals’ Jon Jay advancing to third. He probably had Jay dead. That is, if he hadn’t frozen for an instant, then hurled the ball into the third base box seats on the fly. The winning run scored on his heave and the insurance run moved from first to third where Carlos Beltran, the Cards’ clutch answer to Big Papi, scored him with a hit.
Thus, in one crazy instant, the Red Sox had nightmares of their own to match the ugly memories that St. Louis inflicted on itself one night earlier.
In a span of 27 hours, both teams showed they could butcher enough defensive plays to generate a loss. Boston discovered its ace Jon Lester matched up well in a Game 1 win against a St. Louis team that was 19-23 against southpaws this year.
John Lackey, with almost no exposure to St. Louis hitters in his career, had worried the Red Sox stat freaks who couldn’t get their computer Carmine to say whether the Cardinals would crush him. Lackey looked first rate.
However, the new information in this game, and sobering news for the Red Sox, was their first glimpse of three of the best young arms in baseball. Rookie Trevor Rosenthal closed out the ninth with 11 pitches, all fastballs from 95 to 98 mph, except the final pitch which touched 99 to strike out the side. He was preceded by rookie Carlos (Little Pedro) Martinez, 22, whose gas range reached 98 with diving movement, plus a tight curveball that was so evil it did indeed evoke the former Boston ace.
But the central figure again for the Cardinals, the winner of this game, and before this Series is over perhaps this classic’s central figure, was winning pitcher Michael Wacha, a 22-year-old rookie who has now started four postseason games, won all four and has a 1.00 ERA after giving up only two runs in six innings in Game 2.
“I didn’t have my best stuff tonight,” said Wacha. Yet it was good enough to win a vital World Series game with his team facing a two-game deficit before 38,436 decidedly unsympathetic fans in Fenway.