BOSTON -- If you happen to see the St. Louis Cardinals wandering the streets, stop what you're doing, call security, and tell them the World Series started.
Certainly, those weren't the real Cardinals that showed up Wednesday night, embarrassed 8-1 by the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 at Fenway Park, leaving Little Leaguers covering their eyes in horror.
BOX SCORE: Red Sox 8, Cardinals 1
"We got a wake-up call,'' Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That's not the kind of team we've been all season.
"They are frustrated. I'm sure embarrassed to a point. We get an opportunity to show the kind of baseball we played all season long, and it didn't look anything like what we saw.''
If the loss wasn't painful and ugly enough for the Cardinals to endure, the Cardinals played the last seven innings of the game without All-Star right fielder Carlos Beltran, and aren't sure of his return.
Beltran bruised his right ribs while robbing David Ortiz of a grand slam in the second inning when he crashed into the right field fence. He spent the rest of the game at the Massachusetts General Hospital undergoing X-rays and a CT scan, which were negative.
Yes, it was that kind of night for the Cardinals, who resurrected memories of the last time they were in town for the World Series. It was 2004. They were swept in four games by the Red Sox.
The Red Sox, whether they're clean-shaven idiots or bearded wonders, just don't lose when they get to this point of a season. It has been 27 years since the Red Sox lost a World Series game, winning nine in a row since Game 7 of the 1986 World Series, tying the Cincinnati Reds for the fourth-longest streak in World Series history.
The Red Sox, who love regaling fans with their history, don't mind providing a few reminders for the Cardinals to wrap their head around. They are hauling out players from that 2004 World Series team to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2. What's next, inviting Don Denkinger from the 1985 World Series, and re-living the blown call that cost the Cardinals the title?
Yes, you know times have changed when second-base umpire Dana DeMuth can miss a call, once again in favor of the Cardinals, only for it to be correctly overturned.
It changed the Cardinals' fate for the night, and left Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright wondering why the Houston Astros were playing behind him all night in the field. The Cardinals dropped balls. They kicked balls. They watched balls drop in front of them.
"Everything I threw tonight,'' said Wainwright, who gave up six hits and five runs (three earned) in five innings, "was pretty much garbage.''
No, it was the defense behind him that looked like trash blowing across the field. If it wasn't shortstop Pete Kozma making errors, it was third baseman David Freese. If it wasn't catcher Yadier Molina missing a pop-up, it was Wainwright, with both players taking the blame for Stephen Drew's infield popup that dropped between the two of them.
"We absolutely gave up too many bases, too many opportunities,'' Matheny said. "And extra outs in situations like this, against teams like this, they're' going to kill you.
"And that's what happened tonight.''
The Red Sox, behind Jon Lester's 7 2/3-inning scoreless innings, now can only hope history repeats itself. Every home team to win Game 1 has gone on to win the World Series since 1993.
"A lot went right for us,'' said Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli, who drove in three runs with his bases-loaded double in the first inning, "but when you get opportunities, you have to take advantage of them. We did that.''
The Red Sox drove along Cardinals Way, and bulldozed everything in their path. If games like this continue, it may be time to put out those orange construction barrels to caution folks.
It could get ugly.
Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY Sports