Game 2 of the World Series proved to the baseball world what everyone figured in the first place: the Cardinals are really good and they're not going to let one bad game get them down.
Oh, and they have a solid lineup and one ridiculously talented young pitcher after another.
The gritty effort by the St. Louis bats, the stuff and composure of 22-year-old starter Michael Wacha, and the display of pure gas put on by 22-year-old reliever Carlos Martinez and 23-year-old closer Trevor Rosenthal added up to one big exclamation point in a 4-2 St. Louis victory at Fenway Park on Thursday night.
"Excited to get home," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I know everybody is. Being able to take the World Series back to St. Louis and have our home fan base supporting us. … It's a pretty unique experience for a lot of guys that have never played here before to be able to do it on this stage [at Fenway].
"But there's no place like home. There's no doubt about it."
Now the Road to the World Series winds its way back to the banks of the Mississippi River near the Gateway Arch for Game 3 in Busch Stadium on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET on FOX), and it's all even once again. The seven-game Series is now a best-of-five.
For a little while, it looked like Boston might use its home-field advantage to the fullest.
Starter John Lackey was cruising along and David Ortiz did what David Ortiz usually does at this time of year, crushing one into the Green Monster seats to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.
But this is one tough bunch of Redbirds, and they were relentless on Thursday and took care of their one-run deficit right away by scoring three in an eventful seventh inning.
St. Louis worked its way into the Boston bullpen and capitalized.
The Cardinals scored all the runs they would need on a David Freese walk, a Jon Jay single, a Daniel Descalso walk, a Matt Carpenter sacrifice fly that tied it, errors by Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and reliever Craig Breslow that helped make it 3-2, and a Carlos Beltran RBI single that cemented the score at 4-2.
Two innings from Martinez, a good morning, good afternoon and good night three-strikeout ninth by Rosenthal, and here we are, all tied up heading into Friday's travel and workout day with absolutely no one in baseball surprised in the least.
"This time of the year, with what our guys have proven over the long haul, we're looking forward to the challenge of going into what should be a great environment over in St. Louis," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
"I thought with the exception of one inning, I know it's only two games, we continued to throw the ball well from the mound, and you fully expect that to continue."
A Friday off on the Road to the World Series will give banged-up players a chance to rest, bullpens a day to recuperate, and Farrell and Matheny and their coaches more time to strategize.
Farrell on shifting to STL: "This team has responded well to challenges on the road and at home. I know we'll be ready to go on Saturday."— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) October 25, 2013
On Saturday, the Sox and Cards will be back at it, with a few wrinkles in the first of what are now a guaranteed three games in the National League park.
Pitchers will hit. We'll see Ortiz at first base and possibly Mike Napoli out of the Boston lineup. We'll see plenty of red in the crowd.
Red Sox starter Jake Peavy is a veteran big league presence who would like very much to make up for his last October start, a poor outing in Detroit in which he departed after three innings as he gave up seven runs on five hits while walking three and striking out one.
Now Peavy, who spent the first seven and a half years of his career as a member of the San Diego Padres, will take the ball on nine days' rest in an NL stadium.
"I love the National League style of game and I'm excited to participate in one of the World Series games," Peavy said. "I love being a part, feeling like a ballplayer, and you certainly do when you're in the National League. I enjoyed my time over there.''
As for the Cardinals, it will be up to 25-year-old right-hander Joe Kelly to keep the momentum going.
Kelly, who moved into Matheny's starting rotation in July, stopped the three longest losing streaks of the Cardinals' season and pitched in both playoff series leading up to the Fall Classic, so he should be ready to handle the pressure.
"He stepped up in a lot of big opportunities. In a lot of ways, he became somewhat the guy you could go to for a period of time," St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak said. "He sort of liked that role. He didn't back down."
Saturday's World Series game
Game 3: Red Sox (Peavy) at Cardinals (Kelly), 8:07 p.m. ET Preview >
2013 MLB POSTSEASON
Wild Card: Rays 4, Indians 0
Division Series: Red Sox beat Rays, 3-1 | Tigers beat A's, 3-2
Championship Series: Red Sox beat Tigers, 4-2
Wild Card: Pirates 6, Reds 2
Division Series: Cardinals beat Pirates, 3-2 | Dodgers beat Braves, 3-1
Championship Series: Cardinals beat Dodgers, 4-2
2013 postseason schedule
NL Division Series
Game 1: Cardinals 9, Pirates 1
Game 2: Pirates 7, Cardinals 1
Game 3: Pirates 5, Cardinals 3
Game 4: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1
Game 5: Cardinals 6, Pirates 1, St. Louis wins series, 3-2
Game 1: Dodgers 6, Braves 1
Game 2: Braves 4, Dodgers 3
Game 3: Dodgers 13, Braves 6
Game 4: Dodgers 4, Braves 3, Los Angeles wins series, 3-1
AL Division Series
Game 1: Red Sox 12, Rays 2
Game 2: Red Sox 7, Rays 4
Game 3: Rays 5, Red Sox 4
Game 4: Red Sox 3, Rays 1, Boston wins series, 3-1
Game 1: Tigers 3, A's 2
Game 2: A's 1, Tigers 0
Game 3: A's 6, Tigers 3
Game 4: Tigers 8, A's 6
Game 5: Tigers 3, A's 0, Detroit wins series, 3-2
NL Championship Series
Game 1: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (13 innings)
Game 2: Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0
Game 3: Dodgers 3, Cardinals 0
Game 4: Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2
Game 5: Dodgers 6, Cardinals 4
Game 6: Cardinals 9, Dodgers 0, St. Louis wins series, 4-2
AL Championship Series
Game 1: Tigers 1, Red Sox 0
Game 2: Red Sox 6, Tigers 5
Game 3: Red Sox 1, Tigers 0
Game 4: Tigers 7, Red Sox 3
Game 5: Red Sox 4, Tigers 3
Game 6: Red Sox 5, Tigers 2, Boston win series, 4-2
World Series (All games on FOX)
Game 1: Red Sox 8, Cardinals 1
Game 2: Cardinals 4, Red Sox 2, series tied 1-1
Game 3: Red Sox at Cardinals, Saturday, airtime 7:30 p.m. ET, game 8:07
Game 4: Red Sox at Cardinals, Sunday, airtime 8 p.m. ET, game 8:15
Game 5: Red Sox at Cardinals, Oct. 28, airtime 7:30 p.m. ET, game 8:07
*Game 6: Cardinals at Red Sox, Oct. 30, airtime 7:30 p.m. ET, game 8:07
*Game 7: Cardinals at Red Sox, Oct. 31, airtime 7:30 p.m. ET, game 8:07
* - if necessary