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Post-season Gameday Thread #22: Can the Cards come back?

Last night's was a blowout, propelled equally by awful fundamentals by the Cardinals, and the impotent nature of their offense. What happened in previous World Series that opened in such a one-sided fashion?



Michael Wacha, RHP
2013 Reg: 4-1, 2.78
2013 Post: 3-0, 0.43

John Lackey, RHP
2013 Reg: 10-13, 3.52
2013 Post: 2-0, 3.00

5:07pm Arizona time, Fox. Red Sox lead 1-0.
It was the sixth time in World Series history that the opening game was decided by a margin of seven runs or higher. What happened in the rest of those series?

The team which won the opening blowout went on to take four of the five World Series. Though overall, they didn't dominate the rest of the games as much as you might expect, going 13-10 of the 23 games played the rest of the way. Two of the series ended in sweeps, but two went to a win-or-die contest; the fifth saw the Yankees lose the first two games against the Braves, before coming back. Even more impressively, the first two defeats were in New York, before they swept the three contests in Atlanta, and clinched back at Yankee Stadium. That does show it's possible for St. Louis to come back - but it won't be easy.

It's likely the mere defeat which is problematic, not necessarily the size of it. Most teams who lose Game One end up losing the World Series. Since those Yankees prevailed after being blown out in the opener, the only who won after dropping the first decision were the 2009 Phillies and 2002 Angels. That's two in 16 seasons, significantly less than you'd expect by chance (in an even series, if you're 1-0 down in a best of seven set, you've got about a one in three chance - 22 in 64 to be precise - of taking the four of six necessary to come back from 1-0). It seems the psychological impact of that first defeat is significant.

We'll see if Wacha, the MVP of the NL Championship Series, can continue his strong run of playoff performances and square the series. Considering he didn't even make his major-league debut until May of this year, his success has been startling, but the Cardinals will need to step up the other aspects of their game, notably deficient last night, if they're to have any chance of preventing the Red Sox from going two up. And that would be a mountain which could be approaching the insurmountable.