The 2013 World Series couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the St. Louis Cardinals. The National League champs committed several miscues in their blowout loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game One, 8-1.
The series opener was, arguably, St. Louis's worst effort of the season. Even with ace Adam Wainwright on the mound, they allowed five runs in the first two inning, and didn’t score until Matt Holliday hit a rather meaningless home run in the ninth inning. The Cardinals gave the No.1 hitting team in baseball multiple second-chances, committing three errors and surrendering three unearned runs.
"We had a wake-up call. That is not the kind of team that we've been all season," manager Mike Matheny said after the loss. "And they're frustrated. I'm sure embarrassed to a point."
On Thursday, the Cardinals will look for redemption in Game Two. They have a good chance of tying the series with perhaps the best pitcher of the 2013 postseason on the mound.
Michael Wacha hadn’t played in the Majors before May 30 of this season, but he’s made the most of his limited time. He’s followed up his 2.78 ERA in the regular season with a 3-0 record in the postseason. In 21 playoff innings, the 22-year-old has allowed just one run and 12 base runners. His last start was the biggest of his young career, and he pitched seven scoreless inning in the NLCS clincher, going head-to-head with Los Angeles Dodgers' star Clayton Kershaw.
"I'm just trying not to think too much about it, just trying to approach every game the same, trying not to get too caught up in the moment," said Wacha. "I'm sure after the season, I'll be able to look back and think about, 'Hey, I pitched in the World Series,' and that kind of stuff. So, you know, right now just trying to get focused on the next start coming up and just go from there."
The Red Sox will also send a pitcher to the mound who outperformed a former Cy Young winner. John Lackey, who sat out the entire 2012 season after a miserable 2011, outdueled Justin Verlander in a 1-0, Game Three victory in the ALCS. Lackey had a losing record in the 2013 regular season, but posted an impressive 3.52 ERA in a comeback year.
Lackey gets the call with some controversy surrounding Boston's Game One starter. Cardinals prospect Tyler Melling tweeted that it looked like Jon Lester may have been using Vaseline from inside his glove to doctor the ball. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the substance in Lester’s glove was BullFrog sunscreen, which helps pitchers get a better grip on the ball and is perfectly legal.
The Cardinals don't have much experience against Lackey, and the hitters who have faced him have not had success. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday, are a combined 0-16 against the pitcher. It remains unclear if Beltran will start in Game Two after leaving in the third inning with a rib injury on Wednesday.
Las Vegas Betting Odds: Boston-120, St. Louis+110
Where To Watch Online: Postseason.TV (International only)
Audio Live Stream: MLB.TV
First Pitch: 8:07 PM Eastern Time
TV Channel: FOX
Prediction: St. Louis 4, Boston 2