Nine years after sweeping the Cardinals in the World Series, the 2013 Red Sox picked up right where the 2004 group left off as they pounded St. Louis, 8-1, in Game 1 to take a 1-0 series lead Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
Game 1 was never seriously in doubt for the Sox past the first few innings as David Ortiz put the Cards to bed for the night with a blast over the Boston bullpen in the seventh inning. Ortiz’s fourth home run this postseason put the Red Sox up, 7-0.
The majority of the offensive action for Boston came straight out of the chute as, in the first inning, Ortiz hit a ball up the middle that should have wound up as an easy double play for St. Louis. Shortstop Peter Kozma flat-out dropped Matt Carpenter’s toss at second base, but a sliding Dustin Pedroia was called out by umpire Dana DeMuth. Red Sox manager John Farrell bolted out of the dugout and his arguing eventually paid off as the team of umpires agreed that DeMuth was in the wrong. The reversed call loaded the bases for Mike Napoli, who continued his hot streak and sent a ball shooting into the gap in left-center field. It reached the wall as Jacoby Ellsbury, Pedroia and Ortiz all scored to put the Sox up, 3-0, in the first.
The Red Sox tacked on a pair of runs off of Cards’ starter Adam Wainwright in the second as well, though the damage could have been much worse for St. Louis as Ortiz was inches away from another postseason grand slam. Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran, however, did what Detroit’s Torii Hunter could not do as he nonchalantly reached over the short Fenway fence with his glove and pulled back a would-be Ortiz homer. David Ross scored easily from third on the play but St. Louis escaped a situation which could have quickly escalated into an early blowout. Beltran did have to leave the game an inning later with a right rib contusion and it could prove to be a devastating blow to the Cardinals’ chances in this series if he misses even an inning more going forward. [embedgallery id=241641]
Jon Lester was tremendous for the Red Sox, receiving a standing ovation from the fire marshall’s nightmare of a crowd at Fenway with two outs in the eighth inning. Lester wrapped things up having not allowed a run over 7.2 innings of work. He gave up five hits, walked one and struck out eight on 112 pitches.
Wainwright ended his night having pitched 5.0 innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits. He struck out four and walked one on 95 pitches.
Game 2 is Thursday night, again at Fenway (8:07 p.m., FOX).
What they'll be saying: The big news coming out of Game 1 was regarding the health of Beltran and the health of Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz. Beltran was hitting .337 in postseason play heading into the series and was one of the more potent bats in the Cards' lineup. If he's done, St. Louis is likely done.
If that's the case, the status of Buchholz might not even matter. After a day of questioning, the Red Sox finally stated that Buchholz won't start Game 3 Saturday in St. Louis as he is not "100 percent." Jake Peavy will get the start Saturday for Boston. One would think if the Sox took the next two games that Buchholz would be held out of Game 4 as well as Boston would have a comfortable lead in the series. It also appears that they aren't too confident in the righty right now as he has appeared shaky at times this postseason.
In the big picture, the Red Sox took a huge step forward in their quest to win the eighth title in franchise history. They outclassed St. Louis for much of the night and the early returns show that the Cards may not be able to match Boston's offensive firepower - particularly if Ortiz and Napoli keep up this pace.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS