BOSTON (CBS) – Fenway Park went from ecstasy to agony in the blink of an eye on Thursday night, with the joy of David Ortiz’s two-run home run in the sixth wiped away by a series of defensive miscues in the seventh inning.
After that deflating seventh inning, in which the Cardinals scored three runs to take a 4-2 lead, the Red Sox couldn’t mount a comeback, eventually losing by the same score.
John Lackey pitched a solid game for Boston but seemed to run out of steam in that seventh, walking David Freese and giving up a single to Jon Jay with one out before getting the hook at just 95 pitches. He got no run support until that sixth-inning home run, and once he was given the lead, he couldn’t hold on.
The Key Moment
What took place in that seventh inning was a sore sight for Boston, but after getting the gifts in the series opener, perhaps it was an instance of the baseball gods correcting things.
After a double steal gave the Cardinals runners at second and third with one out, Craig Breslow got Matt Carpenter to send a shallow fly ball to left field. Jonny Gomes made the catch, but his throw home was off line. The tying run scored, but the play didn’t end there.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia let the ball squirt away, and when Craig Breslow recovered it, he decided to throw to third base. It was a late throw, and it skipped into the stands, allowing the go-ahead run to cross the plate.
The life was stolen from Fenway Park, and that was essentially all she wrote.
Michael Wacha was the potential unknown heading into Game 2, with all of his accomplishments thus far always being followed with the caveat that he’s still young and inexperienced.
But he sure didn’t look that way on Thursday night, as he kept Boston hitters off balance all night with his 96 mph fastball, 86 mph changeup and mid-70s curveball. He did allow a double to Dustin Pedroia and the homer to Ortiz in that sixth inning, but the kid turned in a solid outing for the Cards – something they desperately needed after losing with their ace on the mound in the series opener.
The events of the seventh inning were ugly, but they would not have been quite so bad if not for Craig Breslow – and that’s not even an indictment of his pitching.
While he wasn’t perfect on the mound, his decision to throw to third proved very costly, as it turned a tie game into a Cardinals lead.
Breslow shouldn’t shoulder all the blame, though. It was a flawed play all the way out to left field, from Gomes’ slightly off-target throw, to Saltalamacchia’s inability to corral it, to Breslow’s throw. It was just a few seconds, but it decided the game.
A 1-1 series tie is not the worst thing for Boston, which should be able to send Clay Buchholz to the mound Sunday in Game 4. That obviously puts quite a bit of pressure on Jake Peavy in Game 3, which will be Saturday night in St. Louis. Joe Kelly, who allowed four runs in five innings in his last start, will be on the mound for St. Louis.