ST. LOUIS - This World Series, like many before it, is chock full of fun storylines.
There's David Ortiz, hitting .667 with two home runs and four walks in 16 plate appearances. If the Red Sox win this thing, he's surely the MVP of this Fall Classic.
How about the Cardinals' Allen Craig, hobbling around on essentially one foot and having not played a game since his injury, returning for the Series and immediately shaking off the rust to the tune of four hits in eight at-bats? He also scored a big run in Game 3, if memory serves.
St. Louis' Carlos Beltran deserves credit for gutting through a rib injury suffered while making a heroic, over-the-wall catch to rob Ortiz of a grand slam in opener. Boston's Felix Doubront, with 4 2/3 innings of one run ball split over two nights, has served as a credible bridge between the Red Sox' starters and late relievers.
But what is standing out, like the proverbial sore thumb, are the mistakes being made at crucial times in games.
"We saw things that didn't quite look right but, once again, this is a game that has humans involved and there are going to be errors," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "It's just going to happen and we've got to figure out how to minimize them as much as we can and get ahead of them."
Red Sox manager John Farrell prefers to look ahead.
"There's been a lot of uniqueness to this entire postseason, not just this series," said Farrell. "When you consider how closely games have been played, whether it's been Divisional Series in both leagues, Championship Series in both leagues, I can't imagine Major League Baseball wanting anything more than what's taken place on the field."
Pete Kozma had a first game to forget. He dropped a Matt Carpenter throw to start a would-be inning ending double play, resulting in a bases loaded, one out situation for the Red Sox. Boston would score three times in that first inning.
Kozma hadn't settled down by the second. With two on and one out, he couldn't corral a Shane Victorino chopper, again resulting in a bases loaded situation for the Red Sox. Boston would score twice more, lead 5-0 after two innings and would go on to win 8-1.
The shoe was on the other foot in Game 2. The Red Sox led 2-1 in the seventh when the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter hit a bases loaded sacrifice fly to left field to bring home the tying run. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia couldn't handle the throw from left fielder Jonny Gomes and it was a good thing pitcher Craig Breslow was backing up. A good thing, until Breslow tried to throw out base runner Jon Jay trying for third. He hurled the ball into left field, Jay scored the go-ahead run and St. Louis went on to win the game 4-2.
Game 3 ended with an obstruction call against Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks. It was Saltalamacchia's errant throw during the play, however, which created the awkward situation between Middlebrooks and base runner Craig. Provoking eerie memories of Breslow two nights before, Saltalamacchia attempted to throw Craig out at third after he tagged out Yadier Molina trying to score. It was another ill-advised mistake and St. Louis took the series lead with a 5-4 win.
Then, in Game 4, while it wasn't the reason the Cardinals lost, Boston closer Koji Uehara's pick-off of pinch runner Kolten Wong at first base for the final out was stunning. At the very least, the play took the bat out of Carlos Beltran's hands; he was up as the potential tying run in a 4-2 game.
The strategies of both managers, too, have come into question, particularly Farrell's in Game 3 and Matheny's in Game 4. Playing under National League rules, with the increased usage of bench players, pinch hit scenarios and defensive replacements via double switches, opens the door to greater scrutiny.
For both teams, there can be no looking back. Down to a best of three, the club which wins the required two likely will be the one that makes the fewer number of mistakes. Sloppiness will be costly.
"It hasn't been typical for our style of play," said Matheny. "But we're still figuring out a way to get past it and getting ready for the next one."