As if this World Series wasn’t interesting enough, things just cranked up to 11 after last night’s dramatic, albeit controversial ending. After eight and a half innings of spectacular baseball, the game was decided when the umpires made an obstruction call on third baseman Will Middlebrooks that allowed Allen Craig to score the winning run from third. the decision went over about as well as one might expect from the Boston side of the situation.
Leading up to that point, the Red Sox and Cardinals were locked in a back and forth battle that had the makings of a game to remember. That was before the controversial ending.
The Red Sox starter, Jake Peavy, labored his way through four innings. He allowed two runs on six hits while striking out four. Usually reliable, Peavy has struggled mightily this postseason. He was roughed up against the Tigers in the ALCS and struggled last night against the Cardinals. The two runs he allowed in the first inning on RBI singles by Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina set the tone for the game and made it blatantly obvious that Boston would be facing an uphill battle all night long.
Meanwhile, St. Louis starter Joe Kelly lasted innings, also allowing two runs to cross the plate before exiting with one out in the top of the sixth. Whereas Peavy struggled for most of his start, Kelly was solid. He allowed only two hits and struck out six. The one blemish on his line was three walks he issued during those 5.1 innings of work.
Boston scored their first run off of Kelly in the top half of the fifth. Xander Boegarts tripled to start the inning and eventually came around to score when Matt Carp grounded into a fielders choice. Their second run off of Kelly came around the following inning. Shane Victorino walked to lead things off and came around to score three batters later on a single by Daniel Nava.
The Cardinals took the lead back in the bottom half of the seventh inning. Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran both reached base off of Craig Breslow to start the inning. Matt Holliday followed with a two run double off of Junichi Tazawa to put the Cardinals up 4-2 heading into the late innings. With Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal waiting in the bullpen, it would be no easy feat for the Red Sox to mount a comeback.
Of course, that’ why they play the games. After loading the bases with one out in the top of the eighth, Martinez was pulled in favor of Rosenthal to preserve the lead and earn a five out save. That didn’t quite work out. Daniel Nava hit into a fielder’s choice to score Jacoby Ellsbury to make it a 4-3 game. Xander Boegarts then singled up the middle to plate the game tying run and make it 4-4.
That would eventually set the stage for the controversial ending in the bottom of the ninth.
Yadier Molina singled with one out and Allen Craig doubled to left to put runners at second and third with one out against the usually unhittable Koji Uehara. With the infield drawn in to cut off the run at home, John Jay hit a bullet to Dustin Pedroia at second. Pedroia made the diving stop and threw home to nail Molina at the plate.
With Craig attempting to make his way to third, catcher Jarrod Saltalamcchia made an ill-advised attempt to throw him out. The throw was low and wide of the bag, causing Will Middlebrooks to dive to his left. The ball got past his attempt and flew into left field. Craig, who had slid into third got up and broke for home, tripping over Middlebrooks in the process and earning an obstruction call from third base umpire Jim Joyce. Craig was “thrown out” at home, but it didn’t matter. The obstruction call voided the play and Craig was awarded home for the game winning run to give the Cardinals the 5-4 win and a 2-1 World Series lead.
Lost in the controversial ending… Allen Craig had to be carried off the field after re-injuring his already sprained right foot.