Welcome to the “Bi-Polar” World Series, where “You’re up one day, and the next you’re down.”* and Mr. Mo Mentum and his lovely date Lady Luck refuse to stay in the same seats at the games.
When the Cards humiliated themselves in Game One and it looked like their veteran leader, Carlos Beltran was surely headed for the DL, some writing wags were ready to bury them in a catacomb and hand the Commissioner’s Trophy to the Red Sox.
Demonstrating why they call it “professional” baseball, the Cardinals “turned the page” and used their second best starter, a rookie, Michael Wacha, who threw 114 pitches [65 strikes], but although the phenom, who had not given up a run in 19 innings in the Post-season, gave up 2 on the Ortiz HR, but just 3 hits to Boston’s Bashers in 6 innings, his team was behind 2-1 and he was wearing a scarlet letter “L.”
Then with the Sox committing 4 errors and Beltran miraculously returned from dead after a shot of Toradol, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, he knocked in a key insurance run when he looped a single into right; playing with a right rib contusion, he finished 2-for-4.
The Game Two victory revived the Cardinals like a pinch of salt sprinkled on a floating goldfish; suddenly there deep depression was lifted and they went from feeling “out of it” to “feeling back into it.”
In Game Three, just as the Cards came to bat in the bottom of the 9th with the game tied at 4, Mr. Mo Mentum and his lovely date Lady Luck decided to sit just behind the Cardinal dugout: it was the Red Sox turn to feel the humiliation of beating themselves.
Although the game will be memorialized by the “Middlebrooks Obstruction” ruling that ended the game 5-4 Cardinals, the aggressive throw to 3rd to make a double play by Sox catcher Saltalmacchia, which began the chain of events that resulted in a Boston loss, will remain in the shadow of the glare of the game-ending ruling.
Now the Cardinals were 2-1 and emotionally and statistically had the upper hand; Statheads revealed that the team that won Game Three in previous World Series won the trophy 2 out of 3 times.
Now St. Louis could avoid returning to the Pinball Palace on Yawkey Way in Boston by winning Games Four and Five at home. Imagine, the team that was in the depths of depression after Game One, was now having dreams of a team victory dance at Busch Stadium.
And, there were rumors circulating that Boston’s Game Four starter, Clay Buchholz, who came down the stretch winning 6, losing 1 with a 2.26 ERA over his last 10 starts, might not be able to answer the bell; something about “shoulder tightness.”
Game Four: But Buchholz did start the game and, although he did not have his electric stuff that he used to run up a spectacular 12-1 record with a miniscule 1.71 ERA, gutted it out for 4 innings by mixing his pitches and locations, allowing just 3 hits, K’d 3, walked 4 and was touched for one run—unearned. Buchholz threw 66 pitches in 4 innings, 38 strikes.
While Jony Gomes was taking batting practice, he was informed that Shane Victorino had a stiff back and he would be starting in Game Four.
Mr. Mo Mentum and his lovely date Lady Luck were “delayed” at their hotel and didn’t show up until the top of the 6th inning, when, with Ortiz and Pedroia on base, Jony Gomes was at bat with a 2-2 count.
|In play, run(s)||90||Sinker||38||5.7||10|
Gomes waited patiently, expecting Cards’ reliever S. Maness to go to his “go-to” pitch—the sinker—shifted his batting stance to dip down in the zone with his bat.
Sure enough Maness fired his “out pitch,” a sinker, at the kneecaps, in the center of the plate and Gomes’ bat, which had already started into that part of the zone, collided with the ball and lifted it out for a 3-run HR: Boston 4, Cardinals 1.
Then, just when it seemed that nothing could end a World Series in a more shocking manner than an obstruction call by an umpire, something that had never happened in a Post-season game–Red Sox closer Koji Uehara picks off pinch runner Kolten Wong for the last out.
Now, the Cards, who entered Game Four with a 2-1 lead and the chance for a home field World Series trophy, ceremony were suddenly tied at 2 with the Sox and a guaranteed return to Fenway for Games Six and, maybe Seven, and facing a “must win” in Game Five, their last game of the season at Busch Stadium.
If they can bounce back in Game Five tomorrow, with Game One winner, Jon Lester [ERA 0.00] vs. Game One loser, their ace, Adam Wainwright [ERA 5.41], the Cards will only need to win 1 of 2 to collect the Commissioner’s trophy.
BUT, the need to win that single game in Boston despite the Red Sox “Fenway-Friendly-Factor.”
If the Cards lose tomorrow in Game 5, they will be back in the well of depression that they fell into in Game One; confronted by the seemingly insurmountable challenge of winning both games at Yawkey Way, where the home team was 52-28, and the best Home-Road record in the American League.
FUN FACT: The teams that won Game Five of the World Series, won the trophy 65% of the time.
It is a Baseball Truism that, if you ask all the current players in MLB: “What is the key to succeeding in baseball?”—the vast majority will say:
“Maintain your equilibrium; don’t get too high; don’t get too low; just try to stay in that middle zone all the time.”
And, here is another:
“Ju-nebber-know” [former Cardinal pitcher Joaquin Andujar]
*John Prine, “That’s The Way That The World Goes ‘Round”