Turned out he was wrong, and all was right with the Cardinals.
The 16-year veteran playing in his first Series singled twice and drove in a run to help St. Louis tie it at one game apiece with a 4-2 win over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.
“When I left the ballpark yesterday, I had very little hope that I was going to be in the lineup,” Beltran said. “Tomorrow, I know for sure I’m going to wake up feeling sore.”
But there’s no game on Friday, so he has a day to recover before the Series resumes in St. Louis on Saturday night.
“We feel confident and we feel good about ourselves because we know how well we play at home,” Beltran said. “Having the fans on your side is a big factor.”
An eight-time All-Star, Beltran had waited a long time to finally get to the World Series. And he arrived with a bang, smacking into the low right-field wall and reaching into the Cardinals’ bullpen to rob David Ortiz of a grand slam in the second inning of Boston’s 8-1 win in Game 1.
Beltran walked slowly back to his position, rubbed the right side of his rib cage and finished the inning. But he was replaced when the Cardinals took the field in the third.
“For all the years he played and the first World Series game he comes out in the second inning, I’m just glad he’s OK,” Cardinals infielder Daniel Descalso said. “It could have been a lot worse”
Especially without the pain-killer Toradol. Beltran said an injection he received before the game was expected to block the pain for five or six hours.
“Carlos is such a pro,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He knows how to handle when he doesn’t feel completely 100 percent, which he probably hasn’t felt since February. But he’s the kind of guy that knows how to make the best of what he has.”
“I was pretty sure if the guy could swing he was going to be in the lineup,” Descalso said. “The guy is just a competitor and a gamer and nobody wants to be out there more than him. So I was keeping my fingers crossed that he would be in the lineup.”
And Beltran delivered right away.
He singled in the first inning and then singled again to drive in the final run in the three-run seventh when St. Louis capitalized on fielding blunders by Boston to erase a 2-1 deficit.