After the Red Sox offensive explosion in Game 1, the Cardinals needed strong outings from their pitching staff to prevent the Sox from taking command of this series.
A solid start from rookie Michael Wacha, as well as stellar performances from relievers Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal, let the Cardinals take Game 2 and send the World Series to St. Louis tied at one game apiece.
“I felt the bullpen did a great job,” said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. “We saw a little bit of [Martinez] yesterday, and what we saw here today is a lot more of what we’ve seen here recently of Carlos [Martinez]…. He got us out [of a jam in the eighth.] Then [we] got an opportunity for Rosenthal to get in, that’s what we’ve seen Trevor do for a good part of the season.”
Wacha was not as strong as he had been in his three previous starts in this postseason, allowing just two runs over six innings on three hits, while striking out six and walking four, but did enough to give his team a chance to win.
“The kid [Wacha] continues to impress,” said Matheny. “I don’t know what else you could ask. Put him on any stage and he does a real nice job of limiting distractions. He and [Yadier Molina] work well together and make good adjustments along the way. He stuck with his strengths and really went out and was aggressive, and that’s exactly what we needed him to do.”
“[My]nerves weren’t too bad, [I was] just kind of anxious to get out there,” Wacha said. “It’s the World Series, [a] big time game. So I just tried to use it to my advantage to go out and pitch with some adrenaline, and just try to block out the fans and the crowd. I didn’t have my best stuff tonight: definitely a little bit more wild [and I] didn’t have the command. I tried to let my defense be behind me and pitch to contact, and they made some great plays.”
After defensive miscues plagued the Cardinals in Game 1, it was the Red Sox this time that had untimely errors, as two errors in the top of the seventh on a fly out by Matt Carpenter allowed the Cardinals to tie the game 2-2 and then take a 3-2 on the same play. Carlos Beltran then singled to bring in the fourth Cardinal run of the night.
Martinez, the 22-year old rookie who pitched just 28 innings in the regular season, was called on to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh against a fearsome Red Sox offense. He pitched brilliantly in that inning, striking out Saltalamacchia and getting Drew and Bogaerts to ground out for a 1-2-3 frame.
Martinez was called on again in the eighth, and after Jacoby Ellsbury reached on an error by Carpenter, Martinez struck out Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia to get two important outs.
Then, on an interesting decision by Matheny, Martinez was left in the game to face David Ortiz, who had already homered in the game, despite having a lefthander ready to go in the bullpen. Martinez got Ortiz to hit a ground ball, but Carpenter was unable to come up with a throw and everyone was safe.
“It’s not an easy decision [to leave Martinez in] knowing that we have a left hander up and ready to go,” Matheny said. “A lot of it has to do with what we see, how the ball is coming out of [Martinez’s] hands at that time. We have two guys on base, one by an error and another by a ball that made its way kinda through the infield….[It was] not an easy call, but we liked the way [Martinez] was throwing the ball at that particular time.
“Carlos [Martinez] gave up [a] run yesterday. He wasn’t happy with how he went about it. He was very animated about how badly he wanted to pitch again and get back out there. And he proved that it wasn’t just a lot of talk. He went out and did a great job.”
Martinez didn’t let the hit faze him, though, getting Mike Napoli to pop out to third to end the threat and preserve the two-run lead heading into the ninth.
“Obviously [Ortiz is] a very good hitter, but I trust myself and I knew I had the stuff to get him out,” Martinez said after the game. “But I wasn’t thinking about if they’re going to bring in the lefty or not, I was just ready until they take me out.”
In the bottom of the ninth, closer Rosenthal was his usual dominant self, striking out the side of Jonny Gomes, Saltalamacchia, and pinch-hitter Daniel Nava to end the ballgame and secure a big win for St. Louis. The World Series now shift to St. Louis for Games 3, 4, and 5.
“We feel confident and feel good about ourselves because we know how well we play at home,” said Beltran. “And having the fans on your side is a big factor. It’s like Boston playing here [at Fenway Park]. It’s kind of hard to play here when you play on the road, and you’re playing against everything, the whole team, the fans, everybody.
“You have to go out and perform and execute and find a way to play good baseball, but it’s comfortable for us to go back home.”
Sophomore Joe Kelly, who is 0-1 with 4.41 ERA in three postseason starts, will get the Ball for the Cardinals; he will be opposed by Jake Peavy, who is 0-1 with a 8.31 ERA in two starts this postseason.
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