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World Series Game 1
October 23, 2004 • Fenway Park, Boston

Red Sox 11, Cardinals 9

Box Score

          1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9   R  H  E
___________________________________   _______

St. Louis 0  1  1  3  0  2  0  2  0   9  11 1
Boston    4  0  3  0  0  0  2  2  x   11 13 4

The 2004 World Series began on a cold, damp, windy night in Boston. It was a matchup of classic franchises with long traditions and loyal fans. The Red Sox were coming off their dramatic, history-making series against the Yankees, and the St. Louis Cardinals were fresh off a seven-game series of their own, in which they had to come back and win the final two games at home. They had won 105 games in the regular season on the strength of their powerful offense. The two teams had met twice before in the Fall Classic, with the Cardinals winning in seven games in both 1946 and 1967.

The Game 1 matchup was Tim Wakefield versus Woody Williams. I had wondered about Terry Francona's use of Pedro Martinez in the seventh inning of Game 7 of the ALCS. With a big lead at the time, it seemed to make more sense to bring in Wakefield then and save Pedro for Game 1 of the World Series. But Wake had missed his chance to start Game 4 of the Division Series when the Sox swept it in three, and he had given up the chance to start Games 4 and 7 in the ALCS when he volunteered to pitch in relief in Games 3 and 5. After ten years with the Sox, it was nice to see him pitch the World Series opener at Fenway Park, and as it turned out, that left Pedro ready to go for Game 3 in St. Louis. Pedro had done better in warmer weather all year, so starting in St. Louis instead of Boston made sense, and it also lined him up for a Game 7 start if the series went that far.

Larry Walker doubled with one out in the first, but a strikeout and two popups got Wakefield out of the inning. Johnny Damon picked up where he had left off against the Yankees, smacking a leadoff double. After Orlando Cabrera was hit by a pitch and Manny Ramirez flied out, David Ortiz came to the plate. Big Papi quickly got the whole series off on a good note, launching one over the right field foul pole for a quick 3-0 lead. Kevin Millar followed with a double, and moved to third on a fly ball. Bill Mueller promptly singled him home, making it 4-0.

In the second, the Cardinals got one run back, National League style. After a bunt hit and a walk opened the inning, a sacrifice bunt and a sac fly got the run home. The Red Sox loaded the bases with two out in the second, but they weren't able to score. In the third, Larry Walker hit a solo home run down the right field line, making it 4-2, but an inning-ending double play helped Wake escape any further damage. In the home half, the Red Sox loaded the bases again, on walks to Mueller and Mark Bellhorn and Doug Mirabelli's single. Damon's single scored one run and knocked Woody Williams from the game in favor of 24-year-old Danny Haren. Cabrera greeted him with a single, plating another run. Manny Ramirez's grounder to short gave the Sox a 7-2 lead before Haren finally got out of the inning.

A five-run lead was fun, but things were about to get crazy. Knuckleballers prefer the wind blowing into their faces, but tonight's wind was strong in the opposite direction. It was also a cold, damp night, making it hard to get a feel for the ball. Wakefield issued consecutive walks to Jim Edmonds, Reggie Sanders, and Tony Womack to open the fourth. Mike Matheny hit a fly to right, and Edmonds tagged and scored. Trot Nixon's throw went to cut-off man Millar, who threw it errantly to third in attempt to catch Sanders advancing. The throw went into the dugout, allowing Sanders to score and Womack to move to third. So Taguchi followed with a grounder to third that took a high hop so Mueller's only play was at first, while Womack scored the Cardinals' fifth run of the night. After Edgar Renteria walked, Bronson Arroyo was called in to relieve Wakefield. He gave up a single to Walker, then got Albert Pujols to ground out to end the inning.

The World Series featured the two teams with the most runs scored in their respective leagues, and they were living up to it tonight. But Haren and Arroyo quieted things down, keeping both teams from scoring... for a couple of innings, anyway. With two outs in the sixth, Taguchi hit a dribbler to the third base side of the mound. Arroyo fielded it, but made an off-balance throw that went past Millar and into the stands, allowing the runner to take second. Renteria's double made it 7-6, and Walker's fourth hit of the night tied the game. That can be deflating to a team after having a 7-2 lead. They certainly did not want to drop the opening game, but after all the Fenway magic in the ALCS, I knew they'd find a way to come back in this one. Sure enough, Bellhorn led off the seventh with a walk. One out later, Cabrera walked, too. Manny singled to center, to score Cabrera and give the Sox the lead again. Ortiz followed with a grounder to second that bounced off the sloppy infield and hit Womack on the collarbone before rolling into right field. That brought home another run, giving the Sox a 9-7 lead.

Singles off Mike Timlin and Alan Embree put men on for the Cardinals with one out in the eighth, and Keith Foulke was called in to get out of it. (Tony LaRussa sent Jason Marquis, his projected Game 4 starter, in to pinch-run for the catcher Matheny. That seemed a little risky, because if Marquis got injured on the basepaths, especially dangerous on this wet night, they'd be in big trouble pitching-wise.) Renteria hit a single to left that Manny bobbled, an error that allowed Marquis to score after a collision with Jason Varitek at the plate. The next batter was Walker, and he hit a fly into left. It should have been an easy out, but Manny tripped on his way to the ball, kicking up a chunk of turf. After having made only two errors in the whole postseason up to this point, this was the fourth of the night for the Sox, and the second in a row for Ramirez. Another run came in, and the game was tied again, at 9-9.

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Now it was starting to get disturbing. How many times could the Sox keep coming up with dramatic rallies? If this game slipped away (no pun intended) it would be completely disheartening. Strange things always seemed to happen to the Red Sox in the World Series. But in the bottom of the eighth, it was Renteria who couldn't come up with a grounder, allowing Varitek to reach base with one out. That brought up Bellhorn, who hit one down the right field line that the wind blew foul. But two pitches later he hit another one to right, and it clanked off the foul pole for a dramatic two-run homer. Bellhorn had now homered in three straight games, and this one was just like his Game 7 homer that had hit the Yankee Stadium foul pole. It gave the Sox an 11-9 lead, and Foulke had no problem dispensing with the Cardinals in the ninth to preserve the Game 1 win for the Red Sox. It might not have been the best-played game ever, but it got the Series off on a good note. "There goes my Gold Glove," Manny joked after the game. ("He just went from silver to bronze to green glove on those plays," said Dave Roberts.) "That was not an instructional video to send to the instructional league," Terry Francona added, "but we persevered and we won."

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