- Jayson Stark, Senior Writer, ESPN.com
- 0 Shares
Look both ways before crossing this column. There's plenty of traffic in this Game 2 edition of our Useless Information Department:
On Saturday, the Red Sox became the first team in 52 years to make four errors in a World Series game and still win it. On Sunday, the Red Sox became the first team to make four errors in a World Series game and still win it since, well, Saturday.
Before this team came along, no team had ever committed four errors or more in back-to-back World Series games, let alone done that and won two.
In fact, no team had totaled eight errors over two World Series games in any denomination since (who else?) the Red Sox did it in Games 7 and 8 of the 1912 World Series. They made three in Game 7, five in Game 8 -- and, naturally, won the game in which they committed five.
But what the Red Sox have done in these first two games isn't just a rarity for October. It's a rarity for any kind of month -- July, March or December.
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that even in the regular season, no team has won consecutive games in which it made four errors or more in 18 years -- since the Baltimore Orioles did it on May 28-29, 1986.
The Red Sox are now 3-0 since the All-Star break in games in which they've committed four errors. They also won the last regular-season game in which they did that (July 24, against the Yankees).
And thanks to that creative leatherwork, the Sox also broke a 95-year-old record for most errors in the first two games of a World Series. The old record was held by Wild Bill Donovan's 1909 Tigers, who made eight (including six in Game 2).
Even before they met Sunday night, Curt Schilling and Matt Morris had already matched up for two stupendous postseason duels -- back in the 2001 Cardinals-Diamondbacks NLDS. Schilling won both -- 1-0 in Game 1, 2-1 in Game 5. But the fascinating part of their mound reunion Sunday was this:
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marks the first time in the division-play era that any two pitchers who had already met up at least twice in the postseason, then opposed each other in a World Series game.
(This doesn't include instances such as the 1973 World Series, where John Matlack and Ken Holtzman faced each other in Games 1, 4 and 7 of the same Series -- the last time we've witnessed that phenomenon.)
Counting this start, Schilling now has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 12 of his 14 career postseason starts. In the division-play era, according to Elias, only four other pitchers have matched or beaten that:
In the years from 1903 to 1968, when the World Series was the only level of postseason play, just Whitey Ford (12 of 22) had that many starts of two earned runs or fewer.
If the Red Sox win the World Series, Schilling would join a very prestigious group of pitchers who have won 20 games for a World Series champ in at least two different seasons. Just two pitchers have done that in the expansion era (since 1961), according to Elias: Catfish Hunter (1972-73-74) and Sandy Koufax (1963 and '65).
Neither of the Cardinals' Game 1 and 2 starters (Morris and Woody Williams) made it through the fifth inning. Last team to do that in a World Series: the 1989 Giants. Scott Garrelts and Rick Reuschel lasted four innings apiece. Their team lasted four games -- and got swept by the A's.
Manny Ramirez's defensive adventures in Game 1 should have come as no big shocker to those who have followed his longtime defensive exploits. He was dead last in the big leagues this year in Zone Rating (the percentage of balls fielded in his "zone"). Yet his seven errors in 209 chances gave him the lowest fielding percentage (.967) of any qualified leftfielder.
Ramirez's career fielding percentage is a messy .977. According to Lee Sinins' sabermetric baseball encyclopedia, only six other active outfielders with as many games as Ramirez have fielding percentages that low -- Ruben Sierra, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Bobby Higginson, the barely active Raul Mondesi and Jeromy Burnitz.
This is the third time the Cardinals and Red Sox have met in a World Series. If you toss out the Yankees, only two other NL-AL rivals have met more times than that in the Series, according to Elias: A's-Giants (four) and Cubs-Tigers (four). But the Cardinals and Red Sox are the only teams, excluding the Yankees, to have met three times since World War II.
Albert Pujols was 1-for-17 lifetime against Curt Schilling before Game 2. Then, naturally, Pujols got hits off Schilling in his first two at-bats.
Meanwhile, Bill Mueller came into this game with a weird history against Morris. According to Elias, he started his career by reaching base in six straight trips against him, then went 0 for his next 8 coming into this game. So of course, he went 2-for-2 off Morris, with a single and double.
David Ortiz's home run in Game 1 was the first Red Sox homer in a World Series game at Fenway since Carlton Fisk hit a slightly memorable home run in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. In between, 155 Red Sox came to the plate at Fenway without any of them hauling out his home run trot.
We know you're wondering. So Jason Varitek's triple was the first by a catcher in a World Series since that speedy Joe Girardi bopped one for the Yankees against Atlanta in Game 6 of the 1996 World Series.
That Tim Wakefield-Woody Williams matchup in Game 1 turned into one of ugliest Game 1 "duels" of all time. According to Elias, this was the third time that both starting pitchers lasted less than four innings in a World Series opener.
The other times: 1966 (the Dodgers' Don Drysdale vs. the Orioles' Dave McNally) and 1923 (the Yankees' Waite Hoyt and the Giants' always-stubborn Mule Watson).
But Wakefield and Williams combined to give up 12 runs (all earned). Watson and Hoyt allowed seven, McNally and Drysdale just six. So you can argue this was the most grisly Game 1 starting-pitching performance in Series history.
Game 1 lasted exactly four hours, meaning it was the third-longest nine-inning game in World Series history. The only two that were longer: the equally goofy 15-14 Blue Jays-Phillies game in 1993 (4:04) and the 14-11 game the Marlins and Indians played in the snow in 1997 (4:02).
Loyal reader David Hallstrom reports that the Red Sox are the only team in history that has lost four straight World Series and have all four of them go seven games (1946, '67, '75 and '86).
But the Sox still have a ways to go to match the longest streaks of all time. The Dodgers and Cubs each lost seven Series in a row -- the Dodgers from 1916-53, the Cubs from 1910 into eternity.
Matt Thomas, of the tremendous postseason Web site, whowins.com, reports that this is the ninth best-of-seven postseason series in which one team finished seven games ahead of its opponent during the season. The bad news for the Cardinals? Five of the previous eight lost the Series. That includes the 1946 Red Sox -- who lost to (yep) the Cardinals.
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
Game 2 of the World Series provided plenty of useless fodder for the information department.