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 off the second by getting Stephen Drew to hit a high pop in front of the mound, and he raised his hands as if signalling 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 through.
Wainwright allowed just one hit in his last three innings but, by then, it was too late.
"He did get better as he went," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
Wainwright allowed three earned runs in his shortest stint in his last 10 games. He was 6-1 in his previous eight starts with the only loss coming in Game 3 of the NL championship series when he gave up two runs in seven innings of a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"The good news is, I didn't show them anything I had. Everything I threw tonight was pretty much garbage," Wainwright added.
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 before the World Series opener 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 flavour 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 post-season, 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.
Farrell had a 14-10 record as a right-handed starter. Former Boston and current Cleveland manager Francona led the team with a .311 batting average but had only 212 at-bats.
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 against 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."
The Patriots won the 2002, 2004 and 2005 Super Bowls. The Red Sox captured their first crown in 86 years in 2004 with a sweep of St. Louis. They did it again in 2007, beating the Colorado Rockies in four straight.
Now they're back, one year after their worst season in nearly 50 years.
"The Red Sox had a great year, and what they've done based on what happened last year shows everybody what fighting through adversity is about," Brady said. "They've obviously got a lot of mental toughness, and it's a great thing to see."
ALL IN THE FAMILY: A Molina brother is in the World Series for the fourth time in five years, with Yadier catching for the St. Louis Cardinals for the second time.
Jose made it with the New York Yankees in 2009, Bengie with the Texas Rangers in 2010, and Yadier in 2011 with St. Louis.
They have eight World Series appearances between them, third-most among brothers in baseball history. Joe and Dom DiMaggio lead with 11, and Bob and Irish Meusel had 10.
RED SOX COUNTRY: Country music star Kenny Chesney grew up watching the Boston Red Sox and was excited to see his first World Series game in Fenway Park.
Growing up in east Tennessee, Chesney watched the Red Sox on television often and became a big fan.
"Oddly enough, it was a product of where I grew up," he said, standing in front of the St. Louis Cardinals' dugout as the Red Sox were taking batting practice before Game 1 on Wednesday night. "We didn't have cable as a kid. Every Saturday there would be this show called 'This Week in Baseball with Joe Garagiola.'
"I watched that every Saturday. Usually, they would have a Red Sox game on or a Cincinnati Reds game on. I loved the sport so much. It was a part of my life. When I was a kid playing Little League, I either wanted to be on the Reds or the Red Sox."
The music star was impressed by Boston's turnaround after only 69 wins last season.
"It's incredible what they've achieved to be in this spot, to be in the World Series after where they were last year," he said. "It says a lot about the players and the manager. An unbelievable achievement."
But he didn't have a prediction on the Series.
"I read a stat today that the team that wins the first game has won a good percentage," he said. "Tonight's important."
PREGAME ACTIVITIES: Mary J. Blige belted out the Star-Spangled Banner before Game 1 of the World Series as baseball honoured medal of honour 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.