Jon Lester has put together an outstanding postseason with David Ross on the receiving end.
Boston's light-hitting backup catcher has been behind the plate for Lester's last three outings, and the left-hander has allowed just three earned runs in 19 1-3 innings.
"Me and him (have) kind of fallen into a little bit of a pattern, a little bit of a routine together, and it's worked," Lester said after pitching 7 2-3 shutout innings in Boston's 8-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night. "And we'll just keep riding it out until the end."
Lester was 1-2 in his first three games with Ross this season. Since then, they are 5-1. The only loss came in Game 1 of the AL championship series, a 1-0 win by Detroit in which the Tigers allowed just one hit, coming with one out in the ninth inning. Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught Lester's first postseason game, a 12-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
Count on the Lester-Ross combination to make another appearance in Game 5, if there is one.
"They've really developed, I think, a really good rapport," Boston manager John Farrell said. They have the "ability to read swings and make some adjustments from at-bat to at-bat or each time through the lineup. And we did it in the two games that Jon pitched against Detroit.
"So everything right now would point to that same tandem."
ALL WRONG FOR WAINWRIGHT: Nothing went right for Adam Wainwright early in the World Series opener.
The Boston Red Sox refused to chase his swooping curveball, took advantage when the right-hander let a popup fall in front of the mound for a hit in the second inning and went on to beat the Cardinals 8-1 on Wednesday night.
Wainwright started the second by getting Stephen Drew to hit a high pop in front of the mound, and he raised his hands as if signaling that he would catch it. Instead, Wainwright let the ball drop between him and catcher Yadier Molina, a fellow Gold Glove winner, for a single that started a two-run inning that opened a 5-0 lead.
"Tonight was a clear case of our starting pitching, being me, going out there and setting the wrong tone. That second inning completely (changes) if I catch the ball," Wainwright said.
A 19-game winner in the regular season, Wainwright threw 60 pitches through two innings. He looked more like an ace after that but left after the fifth, trailing 5-0 and having thrown 95 pitches.
Wainwright allowed just one hit in his last three innings but, by then, it was too late.
"The good news is, I didn't show them anything I had. Everything I threw tonight was pretty much garbage," he said.
WANT WHIPPED CREAM WITH THAT? Michael Wacha walked into a restaurant in St. Louis and found himself on the menu.
So he tried the "Wacha Wacha" milkshake.
"It was pretty good," the Cardinals rookie right-hander said Wednesday night.
It's been a quick move from the shadows to the spotlight for Wacha, called up for the final time this season after rosters expanded in September. Now he's the flavor of the month in October, scheduled to start Game 2 against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.
Wacha was 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA in three regular-season stints with the Cardinals. In the postseason, he's 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA, allowing just one earned run in 21 innings. In the clinching sixth game of the NL championship series, he allowed two hits in seven innings of a 9-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Now he's recognized more in public.
"It was pretty much the same until after this last start in the NLCS," Wacha said. "But, yeah, I went to go eat at just a little restaurant and I had a milkshake named after me, and that was pretty weird. So I had to try that out."
But his life hasn't changed much, he said, "just a lot more texts and phone calls and stuff."
There could be plenty more of those after Thursday night's game.
"This World Series start will definitely be the No. 1, the highest, biggest, most important game that I've ever pitched in," Wacha said.
Afterward, he'll head back to St. Louis for Game 3 on Saturday night. And, perhaps, for his namesake beverage.
"It was like a vanilla," he said. "It had some Crackerjacks in it, added a little baseball flair to it. And then there's some chocolate chips, I guess, in there, too. I can't really remember everything. "
MANAGING HOTBED: Boston's John Farrell is one of five members of the 1988 Cleveland Indians who went on to become major league managers.
He was teammates with Bud Black, Terry Francona and Ron Washington. And Charlie Manuel was the hitting coach.
"Must have been something in Lake Erie," Farrell said before Wednesday night's World Series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals.
For those five, baseball "is more about a life as opposed to a job," Farrell said. "There was a real desire to continue on after playing days were over."
CHAMPIONSHIP SUPPORT: The Boston Red Sox are trying to match the New England Patriots' haul of three championships in this century.
And quarterback Tom Brady has a bold prediction:
"Red Sox in five," he said Wednesday. "We'll give (the Cardinals) one."
Boston's bid for a World Series title began Wednesday night with an 8-1 win over St. Louis, a matchup widely predicted to go more than five games. But in his 14 years with the Patriots, Brady has developed a strong allegiance to his baseball brethren.
So have some of his teammates.
"That's our team," Brady said at his weekly news conference. "I've been here awhile so I've got to see a lot of Red Sox games over the years and watched them win a few championships. You know, you don't take these for granted because you don't know if they will ever come again."
PREGAME ACTIVITIES: Mary J. Blige belted out the Star-Spangled Banner before Game 1 as baseball honored medal of honor recipients in the pregame ceremony Wednesday night. Color guards from five branches of the armed services stood in the outfield, where a "B Strong" logo was shaved into the grass.
The Red Sox also held a moment of silence for Colleen Ritzer, a high school teacher in nearby Danvers who was killed this week.
Red Sox great and baseball Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
MARIANO MOMENT: Mariano Rivera will receive the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award before Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night.
The New York Yankees closer, who retired after the regular season, will be recognized on the field during pregame ceremonies.
The award last was presented in 2011 to Ken Griffey Jr. It recognizes achievements and contributions of historical significance.
OFFICIAL FIRST: Gaku Tashiro of Sankei Sports became the first Japanese official scorer at a major league game. He was one of three scorers for Wednesday night's opener of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox. The others were Mike Shalin, the regular-season official scorer in Boston, and Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.