A crazy inning gives the Cardinals life, and now we have a World Series
The Cardinals were struggling, and it didn't look good for them. But a three-run inning helped them win Game 2, and now they and the World Series both have life.
BOSTON -- The Cardinals weren't making mistakes, but they still weren't hitting.
They were losing again.
And then, quite suddenly, they weren't.
They still may have issues, but they also have life. What's more, so does this World Series, which could still be every bit as close and every bit as interesting as so many of us expected (hoped?) it would be.
Game 2 was certainly a lot closer and a lot more interesting than Game 1, and the Cardinals won it 4-2 with an inning that perhaps appropriately included two of just about everything.
Two singles, two walks, two stolen bases, two errors and two big runs eventually scoring on one sacrifice fly.
It wasn't David Ortiz driving in four runs with one swing, as he did to swing the ALCS in Boston's favor in the eighth inning of another Game 2. But just as that inning changed that series, perhaps this inning just changed this one.
"I don't know if you can say that," said Daniel Descalso , who was right in the middle of it. "But that was definitely where the game changed. It was a big inning, but I don't know if you can say it was series-changing just yet."
Maybe not, but even it didn't change the series, it sure as heck changed the story.
The story before the seventh inning began: The Cardinals aren't hitting, and they're about to head home down two games to none. One of their best hitters ( Carlos Beltran ) is compromised by a Game 1 rib injury, and another ( Allen Craig ) may not start the next three games because his foot injury may not allow him to play in the field.
The story after the seventh inning ended: The Cardinals may not be hitting, but they still find ways to score, and they're headed home in a World Series tied at a win apiece. A night after celebrating his first World Series by heading to a local hospital, Beltran was the symbol of the Cardinals' revival with two hits. And now the Boston Red Sox face the questions, with Jake Peavy and Clay Buchholz (possibly) scheduled to start the next two games.
A big inning? This was the very definition of a big inning.
"These guys made stuff happen," said Jason Motte , the injured closer who has watched his teammates do this again and again. "Obviously, if we didn't have that inning, we don't win the game. And that was a big win. It wasn't must-win, but it was close."
And after six innings, the Cardinals trailed 2-1, after yet another big Ortiz home run. After six innings, the Cardinals had three hits and were about to waste a brilliant effort by rookie Michael Wacha , who had already thrown 114 pitches and was coming out of the game.
Then David Freese walked and Jon Jay singled. Red Sox manager John Farrell went to the bullpen that never surrendered a lead against the Tigers, but a double-steal and then Descalso's walk loaded the bases.
And then the sacrifice fly, which was a lot more exciting and a lot more crucial than it sounds.
Matt Carpenter hit a fly ball to left, and Jonny Gomes figured he had a shot at getting pinch-runner Pete Kozma at the plate. The throw was off-line, but catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia still should have caught it. He didn't (one error), and when pitcher Craig Breslow picked it up, he threw it on one hop into the seats down the left-field line (second error).
Beltran followed with a single, and the Cardinals had their inning. They had their lead, and nine outs from their own fantastic bullpen ( Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal ) later, they had their win.
They had followed a Game 1 they all called "uncharacteristic" with a Game 2 that everyone in the Cardinals clubhouse felt was totally characteristic. They still have issues (Beltran's health as the series goes on, Craig's ability to play in the field in three games that will be played without a designated hitter), but they now have room to breath as they think about those issues.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox can't feel all that confident in their next two starting pitchers. Jake Peavy, who starts Game 3 on Saturday, has a 10.31 career ERA in four postseason starts and was awful against the Tigers. Clay Buchholz is scheduled to start Game 4, but has health issues that have many doubting that he'll even pitch.
Even with that, a two games to none lead would have looked mighty big.
But it's not two games to none.
In one crazy inning, the story changed. After one crazy inning, the Cardinals had life.
And this World Series did, too.
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