Quick thoughts: Good Lester, bad defense

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
11:26
PM ET
Thoughts on a Game 1 of the World Series that was over early and ended up 8-1, Red Sox over Cardinals ...

Hero: Jon Lester. The line score says it all: 7 2/3 innings, five hits, no extra-base hits, no runs, one walk, eight strikeouts. He tied his season high with five strikeouts on his cutter. Get this: Lester is the third southpaw to start Game 1 of a World Series for Boston. Babe Ruth pitched a shutout in 1918. Bruce Hurst pitched eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 win in 1986. And now Lester.

Goat: Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma made two costly errors, arguably leading to five runs (although only two of the five were charged as unearned). He dropped the relay throw on what should have been an easy inning-ending double play on David Ortiz's grounder in the first and then booted Shane Victorino's grounder in the hole in the second. Really, though, you can blame the entire Cardinals defense. Shane Robinson bobbled Mike Napoli's double that followed Kozma's error in the first, removing any shot of throwing out Ortiz at home. Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina miscommunicated on Stephen Drew's popup leading off the second. And David Freese showcased his limited range when Dustin Pedroia's RBI single scooted under his glove later in that inning. Wainwright wasn't sharp but he could have easily escaped with no runs allowed.

Turning point: Second-base umpire Dana DeMuth originally and inexplicably missed the call on Kozma's first-inning error, even though Kozma clearly never caught the ball. Red Sox manager John Farrell went out to argue the call, the umpires gathered and correctly changed the call. Napoli followed with a bases-clearing double, lining a 2-0 cutter into left-center.

At-bat of the night: Has to be Napoli's double. How often does Wainwright fall behind 2-0? Including the playoffs, he'd thrown only 103 pitches with a 2-0 count, so that means just 103 batters out of 1039 batters faced -- just under 10 percent of the time. Even though Wainwright has that great curveball, he only threw it nine times out of those 103, usually throwing his fastball or cutter. Napoli was sitting on something hard, Wainwright caught too much of the plate and it was 3-0 in the first inning.

Revealing statistic: The first Boston batter to swing at the first pitch was leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury -- his second time up, the 10th Boston batter of the game. No team works the count like the Red Sox and Wainwright threw 31 pitches in the first (just the third start this season he threw 30-plus pitches in the first inning) and 60 through two innings. He had just four outs after 52 pitches.

Injury of the night: Carlos Beltran, playing in his first World Series game, robbed Ortiz of a grand slam but slammed into the low right-field fence in the process, exiting the game with a rib contusion and departing to the hospital for X-rays. Needless to say, if he can't go in Game 2 or beyond it's a devastating injury for the Cardinals.

Debate of the night: There was some debate on Twitter on whether Mike Matheny should have removed Wainwright after two innings, either to save him for a possible Game 4 start or just to get him out of there considering he's thrown more innings than any pitcher in baseball. The Cardinals have 12 pitches on their roster, including starter Shelby Miller available in relief, so Matheny has more pitchers than he can use. Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher -- and smart guy -- Brandon McCarthy argued for leaving in Wainwright, that his pitch count was high enough that Matheny would be unlikely to start him in Game 4 anyway and he's your ace, so leave him in and give your team a chance to come back. Another argument for taking him out, however: In postseason history, the team that led by five-plus runs after two innings was 45-0. A comeback was extremely unlikely regardless (not that Matheny would have known that data, of course).

One swing and the Cardinals could have been back in it: They loaded the bases in the fourth with one out and Freese up. Lester induced a 1-2-3 double play. Since hitting .397 in the 2011 postseason, Freese is hitting .239 with two home runs in 25 games. So ... maybe he's not clutch and just happened to have a postseason for the ages?

Keep this one in your back pocket: Ortiz crushed a two-run homer (off a first-pitch fastball) in the seventh off rookie lefty Kevin Siegrist, who hadn't allowed a home run to any of the 84 left-handed batters he'd faced. This is a matchup we could see again, in a more crucial situation.

It's just one game, but ... The team that won Game 1 has won 21 of the past 25 World Series.

David Schoenfield | email

SweetSpot blogger

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