Okay. There’s no need to be scared or read into this. Just because the last two times we’ve been to the World Series we’ve been able to sweep and get it done in four games doesn’t mean that we’ll lose the World Series just because we lost the second game. It’s fine. Honestly, we shouldn’t even have lost this one. My point is that there is plenty of baseball still to be played. True, we’re going away now, but that hasn’t stopped us before. We’ll just have to get past it.
So Lackey did a great job while he was on the mound. He pitched six and one-third innings and gave up five hits and two walks while striking out six. He gave up a single in the first, a single in the second, and nothing in the third. He cracked in the fourth when he gave up a triple to lead it off that turned into a run on a groundout.
That one run was a big deal because we had yet to score. We went down in order in the first, and Napoli walked to provide our first baserunner in the second. Ellsbury provided our first hit in the third with a single, and the bottom of the fourth looked promising. Pedroia doubled and Papi walked, setting up Napoli. Who then grounded into a double play.
Lackey went one-two-three in the fifth; Salty walked in the bottom of the inning, but that was it. Lackey gave up a single in the sixth, and in the bottom of the inning, it looked like the game might be ours after all.
I’ve often said that, in a close game, one run feels like ten. This one was no exception. Because the longer you go without scoring runs, the more difficult it feels to score them. After Victorino grounded out, Pedroia walked, and then it was Papi’s turn. And I was busy thinking how great it would be if he just went yard, just like that, just because we really needed him to.
He took a fastball for a ball, fouled off a second fastball, and then received four straight changeups. He took the first for a ball, the second for a strike, and the third in the dirt.
And he went yard on the fourth. Hit that ball into the Monster seats. Seriously. Just like that. Just because we needed him to.
It was huge. It didn’t tie the game. It gave us the lead. In a close one. In which scoring one run felt like scoring ten. And as a result of that phenomenon, scoring two runs on one swing felt like a real jump out in front.
Unfortunately, the whole thing unraveled in the seventh. That can not be overstated. Literally the whole game was completely undone in the seventh inning alone. It was one of the worst innings you can possibly imagine to occur during, of all things, the World Series. Honestly, that kind of bad baseball is not even excusable during the regular season, let alone the postseason, let alone the pinnacle of the entire postseason.
Lackey led off the seventh with a strikeout. Then he issued a walk and gave up a single, so John went with Breslow. The Cards managed to execute a double steal, putting both runners in scoring position. And Breslow walked his first batter to load the bases.
A double play would have ended it all. But Breslow induced a sac fly. Technically, that’s not so bad; you take the out in exchange for the run, which in this case would not be winning but rather tying.
But the whole thing went completely and epically awry. I saw it with my own eyes, and I couldn’t believe it was happening. I think that that had something to do with the fact that I didn’t really want to believe it was happening.
Not one but two runners scored on the sac fly, indeed providing the Cards with the winning run. Salty missed the catch, Breslow made an error on the throw, and the whole thing turned into a huge mess as a result. And then, to top it off, Breslow gave up an RBI single. Thus, while Lackey was charged with three runs, he was also the victim of a situation in which some of them scored on someone else’s watch.
The final score was established right there. We lost, 4-2.
Tazawa pitched the last out of the seventh, after which we went down in order. Workman pitched the eighth, which for us looked like it had some potential. Ellsbury reached on a fielding error, and Papi singled two outs later. But Napoli popped out to end it. Uehara pitched the ninth, after which we went down in order.
So at one point the game looked like it would be really good. Then it was really, really bad. All because of one play that was supposed to be routine but that instead cost us Game Two. We need to pull it together. Not only were those errors completely inappropriate for the World Series, but we also didn’t even have enough hits or runs to absorb that damage. At the same time, I saw too many swing-and-misses and too many stare-at-strikes. All of that needs to change immediately. If we’re going to get this done, we need to take the proper steps.
In other news, hockey is back in Boston as the Bruins began their new season this month. So far, we’ve beaten the Lightning, Red Wings, Panthers, Lightning again, Sabres, and Sharks, and we’ve lost to the Avalanche and Red Wings.
Boston Globe Staff/John Tlumacki
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