Cardinals Flop in Game 1; Carlos Beltran Day-to-Day with Bruised Ribs

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals flopped in every single aspect of the game, both predictable and unpredictable. We saw a host of poor defensive plays, a near-complete offensive shutdown, and an awful start from Adam Wainwright.

Game 1 was bad in every single aspect. In addition to poor defense (not surprising) and silent offense (not completely surprising), normally outstanding Adam Wainwright laid a five-run egg in his first World Series start (surprising). In relief, human run-suppression machine Kevin Siegrist allowed a two-run homer to a left-handed batter; granted, it was David Ortiz. Then Carlos Martinez allowed an eighth run to score. Matt Holliday managed to drive a solo homer in the top of the ninth to prevent the humiliation of a shut-out, but that was about it from a Cardinals offense that sprinkled 7 hits and one walk across nine innings.

Good guys lost, 8-1.

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Game 1 is over, but its impact may continue to resound. In a slightly eerie recall of Hanley Ramirez's rib injury from a Joe Kelly fastball, Carlos Beltran bruised his ribs while crashing Fenway's ridiculously low right field boards to rob Ortiz of a grand slam. At the time of the play, it appeared to be merely a brilliant defensive play that hearkened back to Beltran's once-astonishing ability in the outfield.

By the close of the inning, word trickled up from the dugout that Beltran was complaining of rib pain from where he hit the top of the wall. Beltran was replaced by Jon Jay (who was sitting out in favor of right-handed Shane Robinson). Beltran would later take a ride to Massachusetts General Hospital to verify that his ribs were not broken. He was last reported as day-to-day.

If Beltran's status remains in doubt beyond tomorrow, that puts the Cardinals in an unenviable spot in terms of their roster construction. Against the advice of some wiser voices (including those here), the Cardinals kept Edward Mujica on the roster, despite the club's apparent unwillingness to use him. The club has also refused to clarify the twilight unperson status in which they keep Shelby Miller; he probably deserves a role at least in the bullpen, but if they intend to refuse to use him, they might as well make use of the roster spot.

If Beltran returns to full duties, obviously this problem will fix itself. If Beltran's condition is clearly serious, he will obviously have to come off the roster and be replaced by Chambers. But there's a very real chance that the club and Beltran will need some time to figure out if he has any chance of return during the series. If Beltran remains on the roster in a reduced role, the club will have to start all three of its functioning outfielders, without any replacement. Allen Craig remains questionable for serving at first base, much less in a corner outfield spot.

Kolten Wong could serve as a plausible emergency outfielder, but Beltran's injury has quickly exposed the lack of outfield depth on the roster as currently constructed. Fenway Park is not the kind of place where I would like to get a sudden crash course in playing the outfield. Don't be surprised to see Kolten Wong out shagging flies before the game this afternoon.

On a personal note, the injury to Beltran is particularly frustrating, as Beltran had until yesterday been the longest serving active player to never play in a World Series. If Beltran's injury keeps him out of the Series, it would be especially cruel to fight so long only to be eliminated after a few innings.  Let us all hope that Beltran's injury heals quickly and leaves him functioning at 100%.

Otherwise, the Cardinals need to clear Game 1's bad taste out of their mouths and prepare for Game 2. Frank Robinson once said that a closer needs to have a short memory; I think that goes for all ballplayers, especially in the postseason.

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At the risk of rejoicing in an opponent's injuries, the Cardinals are favored by the continuing health issues surrounding the Boston rotation. Clay Buchholz was the nominal number two pitcher for Boston, but he had already been bumped from the Game 2 slot by John Lackey. It was announced last night that Buchholz would not start Game 3 either; non-spring chicken Jake Peavy will start Game 3. Buchholz is nominally the Game 4 starter, although his shoulder feels tight. Boston training staff are continuing to test and observe him. Buchholz himself was noncomittal about starting Game 4, which suggests that Boston may have to make a different move for Game 4. Game 4 alternatives include Felix Doubront and Lester on short rest.

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Springing off that question of starting Lester on short rest: for reasons that remain totally unclear, the Red Sox allowed Lester to stay in through seven and two-thirds innings, for 112 pitches, despite the fact that they were up 7-0 at that time. While 112 pitches isn't an extraordinary pitch count, you might think that they would have pulled Lester after the sixth or seventh inning. Even if the Sox have no intent of starting Lester on short rest, you'd hate to see your number one starter knocked out of the series on a comebacker in the eighth inning of a blowout.

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Since we can't have a World Series around this joint without some drama about mystery substances, here's a closeup of Lester's glove with glue/pine tar/a-giant-loogy/something-possibly-innocuous stuck between the fingers of it. I'm honestly not all that perturbed about it, since most of these controversies end up being much ado about nothing. I also never know that the pitchers on my club are any more virtuous than others. Still, it will be interesting to see if this gets any traction. Hopefully, the TV cameras will try to catch some good views of the inner part of Lester's glove later in the series.

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Between Beltran's injury and Torii Hunter's pratfall over the same fence a week ago, I think it's high time Fenway considered raising the right field fence height to something more like eight or nine feet. There's no good reason for the fence to be so low out there. Low outfield fences are so rare in the majors that most outfielders are not anticipating such a low barrier. Fielding around outfield fences is already tough enough, in terms of avoiding slamming into them. Adding the danger of either toppling over the fence (like Hunter) or crashing down onto it (like Beltran) creates an unnecessary hazard. I realize that Fenway is 101 years old, but the right field fence is not some integral part of its structure such that altering it would affect the historical nature of the park.

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