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This is not a position the Boston Red Sox wanted to be in after two games of the 2013 World Series.
With a chance to go up 2-0 in the Series at home in Fenway Park, the Red Sox lost a seventh-inning lead on their way to a Game Two defeat. And now Boston must go to the home field of the St. Louis Cardinals for three straight games, knowing they’ve lost home-field advantage — and a franchise Series winning streak, as well.
When the Red Sox finally busted the “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004, they started off strong against these same Cards, winning the first two games at Fenway while scoring 17 runs. Boston won those two games despite making a whopping eight errors. And that didn’t even come close to slowing them down as the Red Sox took Games Three and Four in St. Louis by a combined 7-1 score on their way to their first championship in 86 seasons.
Boston continued its World Series streak in 2007 against the Colorado Rockies, again winning the first two games at home, this time by a combined 15-2 score. When the Sox took Games Three and Four on the road at Coors Field, they had completed another Series sweep.
Throw in the 2013 Game One win on Wednesday night, and Boston had won nine straight World Series games.
They could have made it 10 in a row on Thursday night, but the Cardinals had other plans. And now, the Series has really begun, because the home team has lost a game.
The Red Sox, perhaps, shouldn’t have lost this one. After a two-run bottom of the sixth, they took a 2-1 lead into the seventh inning. This postseason, the Boston bullpen had put up a staggeringly good ERA of just 1.08 in 33 1/3 innings this October. But Manager John Farrell didn’t go to that bullpen soon enough — Red Sox starter John Lackey couldn’t get that shutdown inning in the top of the seventh.
Throw in an error by relief pitcher Craig Breslow, and Boston somewhat returned the gifts St. Louis so graciously gave in Game One.
Momentum is now not on the side of the Red Sox — the Cardinals clearly own it, as they head home for three games. And strangely, the last three times the St. Louis organization has found itself tied 1-1 in the World Series after two games, it has gone on to win the World Series title (1982, 2006, 2011). In fact, this situation is most similar to that 1982 team which lost the opening game of the Series at home, 10-0, before rebounding to win a close Game Two against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Boston surely doesn’t care about that right now, but the Red Sox do need to be a little concerned. This is not like the American League Championship Series, where they were lucky to get a split of the first two at home after a big Game Two comeback win — that momentum carried them through three games in Detroit, where the Sox won twice.
This split should feel like a hole to Boston, since they were just a handful of outs away from a 2-0 lead.
It’s a whole different ballgame for the Red Sox now, as they face some significant adversity in the World Series for the first time in a long time. Even if the players have changed (mostly), Boston had this aura around it — especially after the Game One win — which has now been shattered.
And all it took was that fateful seventh inning of Game Two to remind the Red Sox and their fans that this World Series stuff is a grind, and sometimes, you don’t win the Series, it wins you.
With Game Three looming for Boston in St. Louis on Saturday, and the Sox expected to start Jake Peavy — and his career 10.31 postseason ERA, compiled over four starts in October since 2005 — the Cardinals may have their opponents right where they want them.