A searing series: Red Sox vs. Cardinals MLB playoff wrap-up

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Well, baseball friends, it has been a playoffs to remember. As the Cardinals and Red Sox vied for the World Series title, you might have thought, “Wow, these are such boring teams. Just the usual suspects. This is really grinding my gears!” Maybe you wanted the Pirates or the Rays or the Tigers to be playing in the last week of October. Well, I wanted an underdog too, but that didn’t happen, so we need to live with the teams the baseball gods provided us with. The Cardinals and the Red Sox were the two best teams in baseball in the regular season and were a joy to watch in what I think is the most magical sporting event on the planet. As someone who is not tied to either team, I found the World Series to be surprisingly fun to watch, with the Red Sox winning Wednesday night in six games.

Boston and St. Louis are steeped in baseball-rich tradition. Boston fans are essentially rabid animals that hate everything that isn’t “Boston.” The Red Sox provide us with East Coast elitism when the Yankees are not there to fill that void. The Cardinals have quietly become one of the best organizations in sports with sneaky player development, some of the coolest, classiest uniforms, and hoards of sweet, sweaty, lovable midwestern fans who adore watching the game of baseball played “The Cardinal Way,” (whatever that’s supposed to mean). Here’s a quick recap of essential events that you missed while doing less enjoyable activities over the last week or so.

Game 1: If you chose not to watch Game 1, then you made the right choice. This was one of the few times that not watching baseball may have served you well. In fact, it was one of the worst baseball games I have ever seen. The Cardinals were abysmal on defense. Shortstop Pete Kozma was a human sieve at shortstop, pop flies were dropped in the middle of the infield and Cardinals ace, Adam Wainwright, was not his usual self. This is the World Series! These teams were supposed to be good! David Ortiz hit a monster home run and Mike Napoli added a three-run double (Series Score: Red Sox 1, Cardinals 0).

Game 2: A cleaner and closer affair. Eighteen months ago, Michael Wacha, the Cardinals’ Game 2 starter, was a pitcher at Texas A&M University. Now he is not. He has been the Cardinals’ ace for much of the postseason and proved it last Thursday. Wacha tossed six innings, gave up two runs and struck out six. David Ortiz hit another bomb to tie the score, but the game was decided by an error from Boston reliever Craig Breslow, which allowed the winning run to score (Red Sox 1, Cardinals 1).

Game 3: This was the one to watch, a back and forth romp that was tied on two different occasions late in the game. The Cards took first blood with two RBI singles from Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina RBI in the first inning. Rookie starting pitcher Joe Kelly maneuvered through the first five innings, only yielding a couple runs. The Red Sox tied the game in the sixth inning. After a two-run double by Holliday made it 4-2, the Red Sox tied it again in the eighth when Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox’ 21-year old phenom, singled up the middle to make it 4-4. In the bottom of the ninth, Molina singled and Allen Craig cracked a double against Boston’s superb closer, Koji Uehara. (Craig has not been playing most the Series due to a foot injury). Men on second and third, with one out, the stage was set for Jon Jay. Jay whacked a sharp ground ball, which Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia smothered and whipped home to throw Molina out at home. But! Oh no! The limping Allen Craig broke for third base! The Red Sox catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, threw to third, hoping to turn a double play. The throw sailed wide past third baseman Will Middlebrooks! Craig broke for home, but was tripped by Middlebrooks. Craig picked himself up and kept going for home. The throw home from left field was a gem. Craig looked doomed.
Saltalamacchia tagged Craig well before he swiped home plate. Umpire’s call? SAFE SAFE SAFE! The third base umpire ruled Craig safe on an obstruction call, which went against Middlebrooks for tripping Craig on his way home; by rule, Craig was given the base and the Cardinals won 5-4. One for the ages! (Cardinals 2, Red Sox 1).

Game 4: The second of three games in St. Louis. This one had the looks to be a solid game until Red Sox utilityman Jonny Gomes, who got the start, hit a three-run home run over the left field fence. World eater David Ortiz gathered three more hits in this game, giving him a .727 average (shaking my head) for the World Series. The game ended somewhat anticlimactically. Mr. Clutch for the Cardinals, Carlos Beltran, came to bat with rookie Kolten Wong on first in the bottom of the ninth against Uehara. In the middle of the count, Uehara caught Wong leaning the wrong way and picked him off for the final out. The Red Sox won 4-2 with the tying run at the plate for St. Louis. (Red Sox 2, Cardinals 2).

Game 5: Showcasing the same pitching matchup as Game 1, Adam Wainwright and Red Sox ace Jon Lester duked this nail-biter out. David Ortiz continued his ridiculous streak with three more hits (.733 average in World Series…) including an RBI double in the first inning. After that first run, Wainwright was dominant in six innings of work until Boston’s grey-bearded, unlikely hero (backup catcher David Ross) laced a double to left field, giving the Red Sox the lead, 2-1. The Red Sox added one more run that inning, making it a 3-1 game. Lester remained dominant until Uehara closed the door on the Cardinals in typical Ueharian fashion. (Red Sox 3, Cardinals 2)

Game 6: The Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead with a three run double by Shane Victorino, the clutch flying Hawaiian veteran. Stephen Drew added a solo shot to make it 4-0 in the fourth inning. The Red Sox weren’t done until they added two more runs that inning. The Cardinals had opportunities to score in the top of the fifth and seventh, but blew their chances and only came away with one run. Uehara came in as he had earlier in the series and shut em’ down, ending it all by striking out Cardinals star Matt Carpenter.

(Red Sox 4, Cardinals 2.) That’s all, folks.

Another fall classic, over. Boston sports fans will continue to be spoiled. Cardinals fans will continue to be lovable… and also spoiled. Hopefully next year some new teams will be able to able to quench the thirst for victory of fans who have sat in the hot and cold, waiting and waiting some more for their teams to win the World Series. Now April, hurry up.