The Red Sox offense erupted early and often in Game 1 of the World Series on Friday night at Fenway Park, as Boston steamrolled the St. Louis Cardinals 8-1.
Like all four games of their 2004 World Series sweep over St. Louis, the Red Sox scored in the first inning. Mike Napoli blasted a three-run double to give Boston a 3-0 lead, and the Red Sox stretched their lead to 5-0 in the second inning, when Dustin Pedroia added an RBI single and David Ortiz followed with an RBI sacrifice fly.
Only an unbelievable catch by Cardinals oufielder Carlos Beltran – reaching over the right-field fence to rob Ortiz of a grand slam – limited the damage.
Ortiz got his revenge in the seventh inning, smashing a two-run home run into Boston’s bullpen to make it 7-0.
The great catch by Beltran also came at a cost: He left the game with bruised ribs shortly after the play.
While St. Louis star pitcher Adam Wainwright struggled, Boston ace Jon Lester cruised. In 7 2/3 innings, he allowed no runs, five hits and struck out eight.
He received a thunderous standing ovation when he was removed from the game, and appreciative hugs from teammates.
Despite the eventual blowout, the World Series was less than 20 minutes old before the first controversy struck.
With one out and runners on first and second, Boston slugger David Ortiz hit what looked to be an inning-ending double play. But St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma dropped the ball as he took the throw at second base.
The umpire initially called Boston base runner Dustin Pedroia out, saying Kozma only dropped the ball after catching it and trying to transfer it to his throwing hand. But the replay showed otherwise, and the Fenway crowd showered boos onto the field.
After an argument by Red Sox manager John Farrell, the umpires changed the call – a rarity in Major League Baseball – leaving the bases loaded for Napoli and the crowd in a frenzy.
After a brief counter-argument by St. Louis manager Mike Matheny, Napoli cleared the bases and Boston never looked backed.
In the fourth inning, the Cardinals threatened to get back into the game by loading the bases, but David Freese grounded into a rare 1-2-3 double play to end the inning.
In the fifth, the Cardinals again got two runners into scoring positing, but again Lester escaped.
Both Boston and St. Louis are vying for their third World Series championship in the past 10 years. Each won 97 games during the regular season, tying for the best record in baseball.
The team that wins Game 1 has won 20 of the last 24 World Series.
Amazingly, it’s only the third time in the Wild Card era, dating back to 1995, in which the teams with each league’s best record met in the World Series. It happened in 1995 (Atlanta Braves vs. Cleveland Indians) and 1999 (New York Yankees vs. Atlanta Braves), and hasn’t happened in the 14 years since.
It was 50 degrees at game time.
The World Series always attract big stars and Wednesday was no different. Among those spotted at Fenway was actor Matt Damon, country music superstar Kenny Chesney, New England Patriots wide receivers Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola and “Mad Men” co-stars Jon Hamm and John Slattery.