BOSTON -- On the road, on the biggest stage, against the Major League leaders in runs and with an ace pitcher on the other side, the Cardinals suffered two critical errors by their shortstop, let a fly ball drop between the pitcher's mound and home plate and made a couple of other misplays -- all within the first two innings.
It's no wonder they never stood a chance against the Red Sox in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night.
"That's how we've been playing the whole season," David Ortiz said. "When the opposition makes a mistake, we try to take advantage of it."
The Red Sox rode that concept all the way to a breezy 8-1 win at Fenway Park, turning a couple of key errors into five early runs and continuing what they've done ever since the calendar flipped to October: Taking advantage of basically every opportunity.
Ten errors have been committed against the Red Sox in these playoffs, and they've been able to turn nine of them into runs.
"I don't think that's something we're starting to do; I think that was an identity and a character we built throughout the season," left fielder Jonny Gomes said. "That just goes into the 2013 Sox."
With two on in the first, Ortiz bounced a ball right into the shift, but shortstop Pete Kozma dropped second baseman Matt Carpenter's feed, spoiling a tailor-made double play and -- after umpires met to reverse their decision -- loading the bases with one out. The next batter, Mike Napoli, laced a three-run double into left-center field, with Ortiz able to score from first after Cardinals center fielder Shane Robinson bobbled the ball as it came off the wall.
In the second, Stephen Drew lofted a pop fly just in front of Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, who thought he'd be called off by catcher Yadier Molina and instead watched the ball drop right between them. David Ross followed it up with a bloop single, Shane Victorino reached base when his chopper bounced off Kozma's glove, Dustin Pedroia added an RBI single and Ortiz made it a 5-0 game with a sac fly on the potential grand slam that Carlos Beltran took away.
By the end of the second, the Cardinals trailed by five, Jon Lester was rolling and Wainwright had exerted 60 pitches. Five innings later, third baseman David Freese extended the inning with a wild throw to first and Ortiz followed with a two-run homer, capping a night in which the middle of the Red Sox order -- Pedroia, Ortiz and Napoli -- went 5-for-11 with four runs scored and seven RBIs.
"That's the game in the playoffs," Kozma said. "If you give them extra outs in the playoffs, they're going to score."
And that was essentially how the Red Sox got past the Tigers in the American League Championship Series.
There was the errant throw from shortstop Jose Iglesias to start the bottom of the ninth of Game 2, allowing Gomes to advance to second before scoring on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's walk-off single past a drawn-in infield. There was Miguel Cabrera's error in the fifth inning of Game 5, helping set up the three-run inning that led to a 4-3 win. And there was Iglesias' error on Jacoby Ellsbury's grounder in the seventh inning of Game 6, setting the stage for the Victorino grand slam that sent the Red Sox to the Fall Classic.
"It's about capitalizing on mistakes, like we did tonight," Victorino said. "That's the kind of little things that are going to add up to a big thing."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.