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World Series Game 2 Preview: Cardinals at Red Sox

World Series 2013

World Series – Game 2
St. Louis at Boston
8:07 ET Fox
Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78) vs. John Lackey (10-13, 3.52)

Last night quickly turned into the dream or nightmare from 2004, depending on which dugout you’re in. The Cardinals made multiple miscues in the field and the Red Sox mixed in a few good at-bats around the mistakes taking St. Louis out of the game early. There were no positives for St. Louis in Game 1 — unless you consider John Axford’s 1-2-3 strikeout performance — and there were few negatives for Boston. The Red Sox won handily without any contribution from Shane Victorino and nothing from leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury after the first inning. The Cardinals must turn the page quickly and once again lean heavily on rookie Michael Wacha. The young righthander took the ball in a do-or-die game in a hostile environment at Pittsburgh and was brilliant. This isn’t technically a do-or-die game for St. Louis, but it’s close. The Red Sox counter with John Lackey, the starter and winner for the Angels in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series (but that was 11 years ago).

Keys for Boston
Keep the pressure on St. Louis. One way they can do that is to force the Cardinals to make plays defensively. Put the ball in play and be aggressive on the bases. It won’t take a long outing by Lackey, but winning will require a quality outing, even if it ends after five innings. Last night the Red Sox took the first two pitches the first time through the order. Expect a more aggressive approach tonight as Wacha will pound the strike zone. Taking too many pitches could leave Boston batters battling from behind in the count all night.

Keys for St. Louis
They must get back to the “Cardinal Way,” whatever that is exactly. It should start with playing a clean game defensively. Last night’s slow delivery to second by Matt Carpenter that resulted in the Pete Kozma error (and minor controversy), and the pop that dropped between Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina appeared to be the result of playing not to lose rather than playing to win. That mindset must change dramatically overnight. Getting yet another super-human effort from Wacha may be too much to ask of the rookie with just nine regular-season starts in his career. But that’s exactly what the Cardinals need.

Red Sox to Watch
Lackey twirled a gem his last time out. He shut out the Tigers over 6.2 innings, allowing only four hits in Boston’s 1-0 win. Ortiz, who homered last night and had a grand slam turned into a sac fly by right fielder Carlos Beltran, remains the focal point for St. Louis. They were forced to pitch to him with runners on last night. If that’s the case again tonight for Wacha, it will be another banner night for the BoSox. Mike Napoli, a member of the Texas Rangers whom the Cardinals defeated in the 2011 World Series, is swinging the bat extremely well and focused on beating St. Louis.

Cardinals to Watch
Wacha is the man of the hour for the St. Louis faithful. In three postseason starts and 21 innings, the lone run he’s allowed was a solo homer by Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates. Carpenter and Matt Adams must provide some offense tonight. Carpenter by getting on base, and Adams by driving in runs. Of course, Beltran, the top run producer for St. Louis in the postseason, is questionable to play after injuring his ribs and leaving last night’s game in the third inning.

Key Stats
The Red Sox were 9-4 in Lackey’s 13 home starts this season, 9-1 when scoring three runs or more…Opponents batted just .232 off of Lackey at Fenway Park this season…Wacha is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in his three postseason starts…Matt Holliday swung at the first pitch in his first three at-bats before taking a pitch prior to his homer in the ninth inning…Both teams threw 141 pitches in Game 1…Boston came to bat three times with the bases loaded. Napoli doubled, Pedoria singled and Ortiz hit a sac fly that was headed over the fence for a grand slam…St. Louis came to bat once with the bases loaded. David Freese grounded into a 1-2-3 double play.