After Game Three ended on an obstruction call, Game Four was concluded by Cardinals pinch-runner Kolten Wong being picked off from first base.
Apologising for the pun, Wong committed a cardinal sin, like a batsman in cricket being run out for failing to ground his bat.
Being picked off in any situation is a mistake; having it happen with two outs in the ninth inning of a World Series game makes it infinitely worse and considering the game situation it was a shocking error.
The Cardinals trailed 4-2, so there was not a significant amount to be gained in Wong inching out a good lead at first base to either steal a base or get around to third base on a single.Â That was particularly the case considering Carlos Beltran was at the plate, arguably St. Louisâ€™s best hitter. The look of disbelief on Beltranâ€™s face as he slowly walked back to the dugout said it all.
Wongâ€™s mistake created the opportunity, but we shouldnâ€™t overlook the lightning-quick work of pitcher Koji Uehara and first baseman Mike Napoli in taking advantage. Based on Bostonâ€™s luck throwing the ball around so far this series, it wouldnâ€™t have been a surprise to see Ueharaâ€™s throw skip off down the right-field line, allowing Wong to sprint around to third base with the St. Louis crowd suddenly sensing a Boston meltdown.
There was no hesitation on Ueharaâ€™s part, no thought that errant throws had cost his team recently and it might be safer not to risk anything. He had the confidence that he would make a good throw and got his reward.
The pick-off allowed Jonny Gomes to be the hairy hero for the Red Sox. The bearded-wonder was a late addition to the Boston lineup following an injury to Shane Victorino and he took his chance by clouting a three-run homer in the sixth inning.
It was a poor pitch by reliever Seth Maness, the sort that probably had him shouting â€˜oh noâ€™ (or words to that effect) to himself as soon as it left his hand, but a mistake pitch only counts for the offence if the man at the plate takes full advantage.
Gomes certainly did that and in doing so gave a pumped-up Red Sox team a decisive advantage in the game and potentially a decisive advantage in the series.
Thereâ€™s a big difference between the series being tied 2-2 and the Cardinals holding a 3-1 lead with a potential series-clinching Game Five at Busch Stadium. You would perhaps make the Red Sox marginal favourites with two of the potential three remaining games taking place in Boston; however there is little to choose between the two teams and itâ€™s not mere fence-sitting to conclude that the series could still go either way.
The only thing we should expect is the unexpected. ESPNâ€™s report of Game Four states that prior to these last two games, none of the previous 1,404 postseason games in MLB history had ended on either an obstruction call or a pick-off.
I canâ€™t wait to see what new ending the Cardinals and Red Sox will conjure up for Game Five.