Were it errors that hurt the Cardinals in Game 1? In Game 2 a throwing error by Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow gave the Cardinals the lead and they never looked back. We have been witnesses of some sloppy play in the first two games of the series, but thankfully there were also majestic home runs and some great pitching.
The good pitching in Game 2 came from starters John Lackey and Michael Wacha. For 5½ innings the only run in the game scored on an RBI groundout by Yadier Molina, then it was David Ortiz who gave the Red Sox the lead with his second home run off the World Series. Wacha, who had only given up one run in three starts, had now given up two in six innings. In the top of the seventh the wheels came off for Lackey and the Sox.
With runners on first and second, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny decided to call for a double steal and it paid off. After Descalso was walked to load the bases Craig Breslow was brought in. He gave up a sacrifice fly to Matt Carpenter. Johnny Gomes' throw from left field to home plate was wide. Breslow, who backed up the play, picked up the ball and threw it to third base where he tried to throw out Jon Jay. He overthrew though and Jay was able to score the go ahead run as the ball disappeared into the crowd.
St. Louis relievers Martinez and Rosenthal struck out six and allowed just one base runner in the final three innings. The series are tied at 1-1.
Back to Busch
The Cardinals return to their own stadium, where they've been very strong throughout this year's playoffs. They've won five out of six games at home, losing only to the Pirates in the NLDS. The Red Sox have fared quite well on the road, going 3-2 in away games with two very important wins in Detroit in the ALCS.
Key in this crucial third game of the series could be the performance of the two players that have been the most successful in the playoffs over their careers: Carlos Beltran and David Ortiz. Beltran returned to the lineup after leaving Game 1 with an injury and got two base hits. Ortiz already has two home runs and will get the chance to go for more in Game 3 even though both teams will play without a DH in the National League ballpark. This means Mike Napoli, the other slugger and first baseman, will be benched while Ortiz will play first base for only the seventh time this season.
Game 3 pitching matchup
Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69 ERA) vs. Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 ERA)
Kelly has been another great rookie surprise for the Cardinals this year and has been very good in the postseason as well. His home-road splits, though a very small sample size, is unexpected. He seems to perform better on the road than at home.
Peavy has been bad on the road (5.27 ERA) as well as in the playoffs (10.31 ERA) as shown by his last start in Detroit when he coughed up seven runs in just three innings. His worst nemesis on the Cardinals? Carlos Beltran! He has a .400 career average of the former NL Cy Young with three doubles, a triple and a home run in just 25 at bats.
The bookies believe the odds in this game are even (-105), but I don't see the Red Sox winning this game. It's almost a must win for them though, because Game 4 starter Clay Buchholz has been battling injury over the last few days, which is why he was pushed back to Game 4.
Losing two games in a row would almost certainly mean the end of their title aspirations for the Sox. Let's see how they handle this pressure tonight.