Mike Matheny did not pick up Tony La Russa's obsession with granular bullpen advantages, but Thursday night against the Red Sox the St. Louis Cardinals' manager did pull out another La Russa trick: He was terrifyingly unpredictable. Staked to a lead for the first time after Matt Holliday's triple, Michael Wacha's command began to falter as he approached 100 pitches. The conservative decision to leave Wacha in led to a go-ahead home run from David Ortiz.
Then a startlingly aggressive double-steal led to go-ahead runs on the basepaths. A walk from David Freese and a single from Jon Jay with one out in the seventh seemed to trigger a different Matheny entirely; Pete Kozma replaced Freese on the bases and promptly led a double steal. Daniel Descalso walked against a left-hander to load the bases, and Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly drove in two when the Red Sox committed two errors on their way to home plate.
Matheny had another chance to bring in a left-hander against David Ortiz in the eighth inning, when he again represented the tying run. This time, though, his young right-hander looked as sharp as ever, and Carlos Martinez got out of his second inning of work unscathed.
Finally—on a night marked by an unusual amount of devotion toward Mariano Rivera—Trevor Rosenthal came in, and the bottom of the ninth inning was over almost before it began: 11 pitches and three strikeouts later, the Cardinals had evened the 2013 World Series on their way back to St. Louis.