Combine the stakes and the throw – exceptionally wild, finding not the mitt at third base, but the stands behind it – and Breslow’s spot in what, to this point, is an odd World Series is secure. A night after the St. Louis Cardinals handed the Red Sox Game 1, Boston picked up the package and re-gifted it right back to St. Louis, crumbling in a seventh inning that included a pair of errors on one play, the difference in the Cardinals’ 4-2 victory that evened the series.
“Uncharacteristic of the way I think we’ve taken care of the baseball this year,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. He was merely parroting his counterpart, Mike Matheny, from the previous night.
With the series now headed to St. Louis for three games beginning Saturday, there were so many people who, at one point or another Thursday night, looked as if they might own the narrative. Michael Wacha, St. Louis’s remarkable rookie right-hander, seems a leading man, and he made his change-up dance for much of the night, allowing two hits through five innings. But David Ortiz, the indomitable Red Sox slugger, seized that role from Wacha when he launched a 3-2 change-up over the Green Monster, sending Fenway Park into a frenzy in the bottom of the sixth and giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.
“We had a chance there,” said Red Sox right-hander John Lackey.
But it came down to a series of plays in a pivotal seventh inning, one of those frames that provides a window into how Octobers become either cherished, joyful memories, or black stains that would be wonderful to forget – if only you could.
Ortiz’s homer had given the Red Sox life against Wacha, who had the “worst” of his four outings of the postseason – six innings, three hits, two runs, four walks, six strikeouts. “The kid continues to impress,” Matheny said, and it was true – even as he was losing when he walked off the mound in the sixth.
Farrell stuck with Lackey, who hadn’t yet thrown 90 pitches, heading to the seventh. With one out, Lackey walked David Freese. With the left-handed hitting Jon Jay up, Farrell again stuck with Lackey rather than turning to Breslow, his left-hander – and Jay singled to right. Tying run on second. Lead run on first.
Here, then, came Breslow to face the ninth-place hitter, left-handed Daniel Descalso. Pete Kozma – the goat of Game 1, when he made two of the Cardinals’ three errors and continued to look inept offensively – came on to pinch run for Freese at second. From the moment the two entered the game, it was apparent Kozma was timing Breslow, trying to lead a double steal.