BOSTON -- Six-foot-7 Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright rose to take the mound Wednesday, banged his head on the roof of the dugout at old Fenway Park and could not have known that his World Series start was about to get even worse.
Burned by disastrous defense and mechanics so out of whack he described it as an "out-of-body experience," Wainwright slipped into a five-run deficit by the end of the second inning. While he would recover, the Cardinals never could, and they lost Game 1 to the Red Sox, 8-1, with Wainwright asking for all of the blame.
He stood amid a sea of camera and microphones outside the Cardinals' clubhouse and discussed a "terrible" night, then navigated the cramped visitors' clubhouse, found more cameras and microphones waiting and discussed it some more.
In the end, when the room finally emptied, Wainwright was the last man talking.
"I watched my game back. I've seen every pitch," he said. "From the very first pitch on, I was terrible. When you come out after the fifth, you have a lot of time to watch the game over."
Now he has a lot of time to think about taking the baseball again, perhaps as early as Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday in St. Louis on three days' rest. Game 2 is on Thursday (6:30 p.m. CT air time on FOX, 7:07 first pitch).
"We're not ruling out anything moving forward," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Wainwright's history suggests that his next start will be much better than this one: Five innings pitched, six hits, five runs (three earned), one notable walk and four strikeouts. He'd already thrown 60 pitches and trailed, 5-0, after two innings. He held the Sox scoreless from the third through the fifth, but took little solace in that.
"To be honest with you, I still made a lot of bad pitches," he said. "The only positive I can take away from this is I didn't show them anything that I can normally do. So next start should be a fresh start again."
Wednesday's start began inauspiciously, with the head bump followed by a walk of Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury. Seven pitches into the game, Wainwright had equaled his walk total from his previous 32 1/3 postseason innings spanning five starts, back to last year's National League Division Series.
Shane Victorino lined out to left field and Dustin Pedroia singled to center field before the Cardinals botched a potentially game-changing play. It began with a David Ortiz grounder to second baseman Matt Carpenter, and every Cardinals player, from catcher Yadier Molina to Wainwright to shortstop Pete Kozma, thinking "double play."
Instead, the Cardinals did not record an out. Carpenter's feed ticked off Kozma's glove, and while second-base umpire Dana DeMuth initially ruled Pedroia out, the call was reversed after the umpires converged.
Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli followed, saw a 2-0 cutter he could handle, and drove it to left-center field for a bases-clearing double and a 3-0 Boston lead.
"That's what great hitters do -- they hit horrible pitches hard," Wainwright said. "You can say what you want to about the play at second base, but if I don't go out there and cast the ball in the middle of the plate, we probably get out of that inning.
Later, in the clubhouse, Molina wanted to know, "Did [the umpires] get it right?"
When the response was yes, he shrugged and said, "So it was a good call. You want the call to be right."
Even though things quickly went wrong for the Cardinals.
"That was huge. If we turn the double play right there, it's going to be a different game," Molina said.
More trouble followed in the second inning that should have begun with an easy Stephen Drew popout to the pitcher's mound. Wainwright and Molina converged, but neither caught the ball, and Drew was awarded the first of Boston's three hits in an inning that also included another Kozma error and a potentially serious injury for Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran.
Beltran bruised his right ribs robbing Ortiz of a grand slam in that inning and left the game. Ortiz settled for a sacrifice fly, and the Red Sox settled for a 5-0 advantage.
"That whole second inning could have been avoided if I catch the ball," Wainwright said. "The first guy pops up to me. The second guy [David Ross, who blooped a single over second base], if we're not playing double-play depth, he's back a little more and he catches that standing up, no problem, and then we've got a 1-2-3 inning. Those are the kind of mistakes you can't make against great teams, and we're in the World Series, so we're playing a great team in Boston ...
"I didn't take charge on the mound and I didn't take charge on that play, and it cost us a lot of runs."
When was the last time Molina saw Wainwright struggle like this?
"It's been a while," Molina said. "He doesn't make mistakes a lot."
Wainwright insisted his team's mistakes had nothing to do with jitters.
"I don't know what happened," he said, "but I can tell you that their starting pitcher set a bad tone. That's all I know. Hopefully, the next start I have, they'll feed off me in a positive way rather than a negative way."
The one positive?
He wasn't too badly hurt when he smacked his head on the dugout, unless you count his pride.
"I'm all right," Wainwright said. "This is a dugout made for shorter people. Trust me, that did not have anything to do with anything. It may have knocked the sense out of me. Apparently, it didn't knock it into me."