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Tim O

Tim O’Sullivan: Red Sox do what they want in Game 1 victory

  • Boston Red Sox's Jonny Gomes makes a catch on a ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Adams during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Boston Red Sox's Jonny Gomes makes a catch on a ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Adams during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • St. Louis Cardinals' Pete Kozma can't handle a throw as Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia slides into second during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    St. Louis Cardinals' Pete Kozma can't handle a throw as Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia slides into second during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran makes a catch by Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz during the second inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran makes a catch by Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz during the second inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Boston Red Sox's Mike Napoli hits a three-run double during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Boston Red Sox's Mike Napoli hits a three-run double during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Boston Red Sox's Jonny Gomes makes a catch on a ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Adams during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    Boston Red Sox's Jonny Gomes makes a catch on a ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Adams during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • St. Louis Cardinals' Pete Kozma can't handle a throw as Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia slides into second during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

    St. Louis Cardinals' Pete Kozma can't handle a throw as Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia slides into second during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

  • St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran makes a catch by Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz during the second inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

    St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran makes a catch by Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz during the second inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

  • Boston Red Sox's Jonny Gomes makes a catch on a ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Adams during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
  • St. Louis Cardinals' Pete Kozma can't handle a throw as Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia slides into second during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran makes a catch by Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz during the second inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
  • Boston Red Sox's Mike Napoli hits a three-run double during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
  • Boston Red Sox's Jonny Gomes makes a catch on a ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Adams during the fifth inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
  • St. Louis Cardinals' Pete Kozma can't handle a throw as Boston Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia slides into second during the first inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
  • St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran makes a catch by Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz during the second inning of Game 1 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

All season long the Red Sox have done whatever they needed to win games. They were at it again last night in Game 1 of the World Series, but the Sox took things a step further – they did whatever they wanted.

Boston scored five runs in the first two innings, chased St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright after just five innings, got a scintillating performance from starter Jon Lester, played timely defense and produced an 8-1 win that made for an impressive opening statement.

Figuring out ways to win became a theme for Boston before the season even began as General Manager Ben Cherington, a New Hampshire native, rebuilt last year’s last-place disaster with players known as much for their personalities as their statistics. During the season, the Red Sox kept winning even after they lost their top starting pitcher (Clay Buchholz) for months and their first two closers for the year. And they did it with improbable comebacks and unlikely heroes.

So when the Cardinals opened the door for Boston in the very first inning last night, the Sox knew just how to walk through it – by any means necessary.

St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma was the door opener, committing an error on what could have been an inning-ending double play. Kozma got credit for making one out initially, but Boston Manager John Farrell made his presence felt by arguing the call, which was eventually overturned. Chances are any big league manager would have done the same, but there was no way Farrell was going to let that

out slip away. These Red Sox do not operate that way.

After Farrell’s lobbying and the umpires’ (correct) reversal, Mike Napoli kept the ball rolling with a double. It could have just plated two runs, but when center fielder Shane Robinson bobbled the ball, David Ortiz completed his lumber all the way from first base to make it a 3-0 Boston lead. Give them an inch and these Red Sox will take 90 feet.

This wasn’t the first time Boston took advantage of the opposition imploding at Fenway Park during the postseason. Tampa Bay was sitting on a 2-0 lead in the first game of the Division Series back on Oct. 4 when its defense disappeared and the Sox pounced for five runs. The Rays never really recovered from that inning and Boston has never really looked back.

Who knows how far into the World Series the ripples will stretch from the Cardinals’ first-inning gaffes, but there’s no doubt they spread into the second inning. Wainwright called for an infield popup only to watch it drop at his feet, and then Kozma made another error later in the frame. The Red Sox, naturally, jumped on the extra chances to score two more runs as Dustin Pedroia delivered a run-scoring single and David Ortiz drove home another run with a sacrifice fly that was nearly a grand slam.

After blowing several easy plays, St. Louis got a defensive gem from Carlos Beltran on that Ortiz fly ball, but even that may turn out in Boston’s favor. Beltran, the Cardinals’ most dangerous postseason hitter, crashed into the right field wall as he was reaching into the bullpen to make the catch and had to leave the game with a rib contusion.

The Boston bats quieted for a time after those first two innings, but it didn’t matter. The pitching and defense were more than willing to take over for a while as the Sox did what was required exactly when the situation called for it.

Lester made sure his team kept all the momentum after it scored its runs by following up with a pair of 1-2-3 innings. The Cardinals threatened loudly in the fourth by loading the bases with one out, but the Sox squashed that by turning a 1-2-3 (pitcher to catcher to first) double play, the first 1-2-3 double play in the World Series since 1973.

The defense came up big again to start the next inning as Jonny Gomes made a diving catch in left field. And when Gomes committed an error later in the inning, shortstop Stephen Drew covered for him by turning a slow roller that could have been trouble into the third out, ending another St. Louis threat just when it needed to be ended.

Maybe the Cardinals thought they were getting to Lester at that point. They weren’t. Boston’s big lefty reasserted himself in the sixth and seventh with another pair of 1-2-3 innings, striking out four of the six batters he faced in the process.

Finally, as if to re-re-emphasize this ability to convert at all the right moments, Ortiz launched a two-run home run in the seventh after Pedroia reached on the Cardinals’ third error of the game. Not only did Boston capitalize on another St. Louis blunder, but Ortiz’s long ball came against left-handed reliever Kevin Siegrist, who was supposed to specialize in retiring left-handed hitters like Ortiz.

Sure, it was only one game. But it went exactly how the Red Sox wanted it to go, exactly when they wanted it to.

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3371 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)

Related

Lester, Red Sox rout sloppy Cards in Series opener

Thursday, October 24, 2013

BOSTON – Given a bit of help by the umpires and a lot more by the Cardinals, the Boston Red Sox turned this World Series opener into a laugher. Mike Napoli hit a three-run double right after the umps reversed a blown call, Jon Lester made an early lead stand up and the Red Sox romped past sloppy St. Louis, …

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