Defeating the best team in the National League, with their ace on the mound, should have presented more of a challenge for the Boston Red Sox during Game 1 of the World Series. At least, in theory. In reality, there was very little resistance at all provided by the St. Louis Cardinals during the 8-1 rout.
Instead, there were Cardinals' miscues that either kept the door open or opened the door for the Boston Red Sox to walk through and obtain multiple-run scoring opportunities. Yet, just because the Cardinals committed defensive mistakes does not mean the Red Sox only scored with the assistance of their opponent. The Boston Red Sox still had to earn their runs, since none of the three defensive miscues by the Cardinals led directly to the Red Sox scoring a run.
The first chink in the Cardinals' defensive efficiency showed up in the very first inning of the game. With runners already on first and second bases with no outs, thanks to a Jacoby Ellsbury walk and a Dustin Pedroia single, David Ortiz hit a grounder to second base that seemed routine. A throw from second baseman Matt Carpenter to shortstop Pete Kozma should have resulted in at least a force out at second base; with non-speedy David Ortiz running to first, the Cardinals being able to turn a double play and get out of the inning was also a likely proposition.
What actually happened, with reality rearing its ugly head again and telling theory that its presence was no longer required since the events actually transpired, is that Kozma did not even secure the throw from Carpenter. Pedroia was originally called out at second base, but after a conference by the umpires, the incorrect call was overturned and the correct call gave the Red Sox bases loaded with one out and Kozma his first error of the contest; those who are experts on foreshadowing can probably guess it was not his only error of the evening.
While Kozma's error did extend the inning and raise the Red Sox win expectancy slightly (from 0.93 to 1.59), Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright was still in a manageable position as far as preventing the Red Sox from scoring a multitude of runs. Then again, throwing 20 pitches to the first four batters he faced in the game may have taken a toll on him so perhaps it was inevitable he would end up making a pitch that Mike Napoli could drive. And on Wainwright's 23rd pitch of the inning, well above Wainwright's regular season average of throwing 14.6 pitchers per inning, Napoli did drive a pitch into center field for a double that scored all three base runners to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead.
The Cardinals' defensive miscues reared their ugly heads again in the second inning as a lapse in concentration afforded the Red Sox more base runners than they might have had. Leading off the inning for the Red Sox was Stephen Drew, who hit a high infield fly ball that should have been caught by someone. Wainwright waved his hand as if to suggest that he would take care of the fly ball, only to inexplicably fail to do so by following up his gesture by actually making the play, allowing the ball to drop between himself and catcher Yadier Molina.
Once again, though, the defensive mistake that gifted Drew a single only resulted in a small increase in the Red Sox run expectancy (from 0.51 to 0.91). David Ross still had to earn his way on base by getting a single and advancing Drew to second base with no outs. However, adding in Kozma's second error of the game that resulted in the Red Sox having bases loaded with one out did make it a lot more likely that the Red Sox would score at least one run during the inning; the Red Sox, like in the first inning, after the Kozma error, saw their run expectancy increased from 0.93 to 1.59.
The Red Sox ended up scoring two runs, one off a Dustin Pedroia RBI single and the second off a near-grand slam that ended up being a sacrifice fly by David Ortiz, giving the Red Sox a 5-0 lead and a win expectancy of 91.9 percent after just two innings.
Having accumulated such a big lead so early in the contest, the Red Sox basically cruised through the rest of the game as the offensive explosion was backed up by the sharp pitching of Jon Lester. Lester mowed down the Cardinals line-up as he went 7.2 innings without giving up a single run and struck out eight of the 28 batters he faced; he actually struck out more batters than he allowed to reach base.
Lester's only spot of trouble came in the fourth inning when the Cardinals loaded the bases against him with just one out in the inning. The trouble was wiped clean, though, when David Freese grounded into a double play that ended the Cardinals' run-scoring threat. That was the best chance the Cardinals had all night to score a run against Lester, and they failed to do so.
Overall, the Red Sox victory in Game 1 was of the best kind for them. The club received superb starting pitching, and the offense came up big in the biggest spots to score even more runs than their run expectancy suggested they should; the Red Sox hitters finished the contest with an RE24 of 3.89. Going forward, the Cardinals are unlikely to make as many defensive errors, but it is important to remember that the Red Sox still outperformed the advantageous positions in which they found themselves. If there is any sort of carryover of that level of production, the Red Sox are set up well for the rest of the World Series.