The Red Sox beat the Cards tonight at Fenway, 11-9, in the highest scoring first game in the hundred years of World Series history. They combined for 24 hits, 14 walks, and five errors. And even though 20 total runs were scored both teams left plenty on base: Red Sox 12, Cards 9.
There were plenty of turning points in game that was a play in four acts: first, the Red Sox jump to a big lead, 7-2 in at the end of the third; the Cardinals tie it up, 7-7 at the end of the sixth; the teams trade runs, 9-9 in the middle of the eighth; and finally, the Red Sox pull out the win, 11-9.
In the first act, the first three innings, were ruled by David Ortiz's three-run shot with one out in the first. The Sox mounted two rallies in the first, going up 4-0. Woody Williams slider was not biting all night and just about every out he recorded in his scant two and one-third innings were hard to come by.
Meanwhile, the Cards were at first having trouble scratching out hits. Through the first three innings Larry Walker's double and home run accounted for two thirds of the Cardinals hits, the other being a bunt single by Jim Edmonds against the shift.
In act two, relievers Dan Haren and Bronson Arroyo took over. Haren at first had trouble, giving up a single on his first pitch to Orlando Cabrera, putting the Sox up 6-2. However, with the bases loaded and one out, he got Manny Ramirez to ground out to short (with Orlando Cabrera looking to dance with Tony Womack on that play), pitch around David Ortiz to walk the bases again full, and then got Kevin Millar to ground out.
After Tim Wakefield walked the bases full to lead off the fourth, Mike Matheny hit a sacrifice fly to Trot Nixon in right, scoring Jim Edmonds, 7-3. Kevin Millar wisely cut off the throw, but then he threw about twelve feet wide of third and into the dugout. The second runner scored, 7-4, and the runner at first (Womack) went to third. So Taguchi hit a high hopper to third. Womack ran inside the foul line. As Bill Mueller came down with the ball he double-clutched, and then threw to first. Had he thrown home and hit Womack, he would have been called out for running outside the basepath.
After Renteria walked, Wakefield was pulled. Reliever Bronson Arroyo's first pitch was hit to right for Larry Walker for his third hit. But Albert Pujols grounded out to end the inning. The Cards had scored five runs but had only four hits, three by Walker. Pujols and Scot Rolen had been up five times and had accounted for five outs.
The relievers calm things done for one inning, the fifth. But then the Cardinals got a two-out rally going in the meekest of manners. So Taguchi hit a slow chopper down the third base line. Bronson Arroyo got to the ball but then pivoted wildly and threw the ball wide of first and into the camera crews beyond the dugout, putting Taguchi at second. Inserting Taguchi in the lineup was the first of a handful of typically odd moves by LaRussa. However, Taguchi was effective enough, scoring one run and driving one in without getting a ball out of the infield.
Edgar Renteria followed with the first non-Walker, non-infield hit for the Cards, a single to center (7-6 Red Sox). And then of course, Larry Walker, doubled down the first-base line for his fourth hit, tying the ballgame 7-7.
That's how it remained until Kiko Calero relieved Haren in the seventh and quickly walked two of the first three batters he faced. After Manny Ramirez singled and the Red Sox took a one-run lead, Calero was gone (and Ramirez almost got caught trying to stretch a single to a double). Ray King came in to face David Ortiz, who hit a sharp grounder to second. The ball hit the infield cutout and then caromed off Tony Womack's collar bone, removing him from the game and possibly the series.
The Cards got the runs back in the eighth. After a one-out single by Mike Matheny, LaRussa made his second odd move. He put game four starter Jason Marquis in to pinch-run. After a bloop single by pinch-hitter Roger Cedeno (pinch-hitting for So Taguchi, erasing his first odd move). Jason Marquis tumbled into second doing his best Jerry Lewis impersonation.
Boston then called on closer Keith Foulke, who gave up a single to Renteria to bring the Cards within one, 9-7. The hit was a hard grounder through on the left side. Marquis unwisely went home on the play but Jason Varitek fielded the ball on a high hop and couldn't get the tag down in time.
Larry Walker hit a shallow fly to left, but Manny Ramirez tried to slide under it for catch, and apparently his cleats caught. He them tumbled headlong, the ball bounced off the back of his glove, and the score was again tied, 9-9. Manny Ramirez was charged with an error on both plays. Albert Pujols was walked with first empty.
Scott Rolen had the bases loaded and one out but popped out on the first pitch. Then Jim Edmonds struck out on two highly questionable inside strike calls.
In the bottom of the eighth with one out Jason Varitek reached on an attempt by Edgar Renteria to duplicate Manny Ramirez backhand prowess in the top of the inning. Then, on an 0-1 count Mark Bellhorn turned on an inside pitch but drove it foul. On 1-2, reliever Julian Tavarez gave him the same pitch, but grooved a little bit better. Bellhorn socked it to right for two runs and an 11-9 lead.
The Cardinals mounted a minor rally in the bottom of the ninth on a one-out double the opposite way by Marlon Anderson. But Tony LaRussa decided to leave scrubs Yadier Molina and Roger Cedeno in instead of calling on lefty John Mabry. He was stuck with Mlolina having pinch-run for Mike Matheny with Marquis earlier on. And while Cenedo is a better hitter from the left side, he's still Roger Cedeno.
So that's it. The Cards somehow scored nine runs with Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen going a collective 0-for-8 with 9 men left on. The Cardinals middle relief woes continued. The Red Sox defensive woes from mid-season returned. The Red Sox got five and one-third from their bullpen and that might become a big issue with potentially injured Curt Schilling going tomorrow. The Cards can feel good that they got to Keith Foulke. Tony Womack's injury may be an issue. Those are the more salient results. We'll have to see how they build in game two.
If Schilling is ineffective the Cards can come away with a split and go home able to put the Sox away. If the Sox win bug with Schilling, they have Pedro Martinez going in game three and could put the Cards away early.