BOSTON – St. Louis, they say, plays textbook baseball. Boston does, too, only it is the idiot's guide to the sport.
That means committing four errors for the second consecutive game on Sunday, thus making your injured ace, who just hours before the start didn't think he was capable of pitching, labor longer than necessary. But it didn't matter.
Not when you have big sticks up and down the lineup, a strong bullpen and a bunch of defensive specialists to make everything nice.
The Boston Red Sox are up 2-0 in the World Series, halfway to winning their first championship in 86 years, thanks to another ho-hum night of a strange winning baseball formula that delivered a 6-2 victory.
This is what makes the Red Sox maddening to play. They may not be perfect, but no one takes advantage of any weakness or opportunity better than Boston. And no one is better at putting crushing mistakes such as errors behind them.
"Maybe four is our lucky number," Boston manager Terry Francona joked.
Easy for him to laugh. He has a lineup so tough that it scored all six runs with two outs. And he has a pitcher in Curt Schilling, who despite questions about his troubled right ankle, snuffed out every possible St. Louis Cardinals rally.
"If you get the two-out hit and if you can stop the two-out hit, that's one of those formulas that will win a lot of games for you," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
La Russa didn't have any answers for how to get St. Louis back on track here, and you can hardly blame him. Seventy-seven percent of previous teams that won the first two games of the World Series went on to win the title. The Sox, however, don't care about stats like that after coming back on the Yankees from down 0-3 in the ALCS.
Besides, when things are going this right for you, why mess with success?
"We'll try to show up and win [Game 3]," Francona said. "You start thinking too far ahead and it just doesn't really do any good. We know how good of a team we are."
Everyone should at this point. Boston's offense is powerful, just grinding down pitchers while seemingly starting every inning with a runner at second.
When the Red Sox get pitching like Schilling's effort – six innings, four hits and one unearned run – it means their opponent has to try playing catch-up against a bullpen that's too good.
Schilling again cemented his legend in New England by pitching with his ankle skin stitched so that a tendon could not pop out of place. It was a repeat of the unique procedure that he used to win Game 6 of the ALCS in New York, and once again blood from the stitches soaked through his sock.
This time, however, he didn't think he would be able to walk, let alone pitch when he woke up Sunday morning.
"I just wish everybody on the planet could experience the day that I just experienced," said Schilling, who became the first pitcher to win a World Series start for three different teams.
"I wasn't going to pitch," he continued. "I couldn't walk. I couldn't move. I don't know what happened, but I knew that when I woke up there was a problem. I wasn't going to go out on the mound with the way I felt today. And that's kind of when everything started."
He saw signs bearing good-luck wishes on his drive to Fenway Park. He prayed to his Lord to give him the strength to compete. When he got there, doctors took out an extra stitch that was hitting a nerve and causing the pain. And the sight of his teammates made him believe anything was possible again.
"I mean, you can't understand unless you are in that clubhouse," Schilling said. "I care more about these guys than anybody I've ever played with."
Even when they let him down in the field, Schilling, like everyone else, shrugged it off. After Bill Mueller committed his World Series record-tying third error of the game, no one would have blamed Schilling if he became the first pitcher to throw a brush-back pitch at his own third baseman.
Instead he told Mueller everything would be OK.
"I wanted to get out of that inning and make it all right for him as much as possible," Schilling said.
That's the simple difference between these Red Sox and all the Boston teams that failed to win the World Series over the years.
It is a strange group playing the game a strange way, but the togetherness on the squad is like nothing else. They can beat themselves and still win games going away.
Heading back to its home park for games starting Tuesday, St. Louis needs to find a solution for that.
It won't be easy.