The St. Louis Cardinals are a terrific baseball team. They pitch well, they hit well enough, they do the little things people always say are needed to win ballgames, and they usually play decent enough defense, particularly in the infield and especially behind the plate.
Not really any of that was the case in the Cards' 8-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday. In fact, St. Louis' performance can be best be described as a comedy of errors.
Exhibit A: Pete Kozma, who was worth 1.3 rWAR on defense alone during the regular season, apparently forgot how to catch a baseball:
Had Kozma done what he undoubtedly has done hundreds of thousands of times in his life, the Cardinals might have escaped the first inning without allowing a run. Instead, his miscue resulted in a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity for Mike Napoli, who did not disappoint:
Exhibit B: Adam Wainwright, who seemingly never screws anything up and Yadier Molina, who is probably the best defensive catcher of his era, took no interest in catching this routine pop-up to begin the second inning:
Exhibit C: At least Kozma got a bit more leather on it this time:
Those two gaffes resulted in another bases-loaded chance for the Red Sox. This time, Dustin Pedroia came through with a single and David Ortiz added a sacrifice fly that was almost a grand slam to put Boston ahead by five runs.
The Cardinals couldn't avoid hurting themselves on offense, either, as Jon Lester kept them off-balance for 7⅔ scoreless innings.
And, to make matters worse, Jonny Gomes of all people was making plays that are actually difficult look easy:
Meanwhile, the Cardinals' best defensive play resulted in the early exit of one of the greatest postseason players in recent memory:
The reaction of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny immediately upon completion of the game says it all:
Fortunately for the Cardinals, Thursday is a new day, and they'll send rookie standout Michael Wacha to the mound to try to even the series.