The Red Sox and the Cardinals will be playing in the World Series for the fourth time. The Cardinals took the title in seven games in 1946 and 1967, but the Red Sox swept St. Louis en route to their 86-year-drought-ending championship in 2004.
Each team has won two championships in the new millennium; here’s a look at 10 of the direct matchups that will have an effect on who takes home the Commissioners Trophy in 2013, and your chance to vote on who has the edge in each matchup.
Red Sox offense vs. Cardinals starters
The ace of the Cardinals pitching staff is Adam Wainwright. Wainwright went 19-9 in 2013 with a 2.94 ERA and 219 strikeouts. So far, Wainwright has gone 2-1 in three postseason starts with an even better 1.57 ERA. Only two of the Red Sox starting nine have faced Wainwright in their careers: Shane Victorino is 5-for-22 with a home run and three RBIs, while Stephen Drew is just 2-for-19 with two walks. David Ross and Jonny Gomes have faced Wainwright 11 and 10 times, respectively, and each have two hits with one home run against him.
The three bigger question marks for the Red Sox offense will be how they will fare against young Cardinals starters Michael Wacha, Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn. Wacha, the NLCS MVP who nearly no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLDS, went just 4-1 in nine regular season starts, but has been on fire in the postseason, shutting out the Dodgers over 13.2 innings in the NLCS. No current Red Sox hitter has ever faced Wacha.
Kelly has been very good as well, going 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA in the regular season, but has struggled more in the postseason, allowing eight earned runs over 16.1 innings in three starts. Just two Red Sox hitters have ever faced Kelly: Victorino and Drew have each faced him three times, with Victorino recording one hit and Drew drawing one walk.
Lance Lynn, St. Louis’ fourth starter, is another mystery to the Red Sox. Lynn, who went 15-10 with a 3.97 ERA in the regular season, has started two games this postseason and come out of the bullpen in one other, and has allowed seven runs over 11.2 total innings. Only David Ross and Quintin Berry have faced Lynn more than two times; each have one hit against him. Victorino is the only other Red Sox player to have a hit against Lynn in his career.
Cardinals offense vs. Red Sox starters
Just like the Red Sox have little history with the Cardinals pitching staff, the Cardinals hitters haven’t seen much from the Red Sox’ hurlers. Only three players on the Cardinals roster have hit against Jon Lester, the lefty who has gone 2-1 in three postseason starts with an ERA of 2.33. Matt Holiday has six at-bats against Lester, recording two hits with one RBI. Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina have each faced Lester three times, with Beltran recording a hit and two walks.
John Lackey, who outdueled Justin Verlander in Game 3 of the ALCS, has seen just two of the Cardinals hitter in his career: Beltran and Holiday. Both are hitless in 20 combined plate appearances, with Beltran recording an RBI and two walks, while Holiday has a walk.
The most familiar Red Sox starter to the Cardinals is Jake Peavy after the righthander spent most of his career in the National League. Holliday, Beltran, and Molina have all seen Peavy more than 20 times. In their careers against Peavy, Holliday is 8-for-28 in his career with one home run and five RBIs; Molina is 8-for-20 with a home run and six RBIs; and Molina is 4-for-22 with one RBI. David Freese also has three at-bats against Peavy, with one hit.
No Cardinals have ever faced Clay Buchholz.
The Cardinals, like the Red Sox, have won multiple tight games over the course of their pennant run. Unlike the Tigers’ bullpen, which the Red Sox hitters mostly used as a punching bag, the Cardinals relievers shut down the hot hitters of the Pirates and Dodgers over 11 playoff games. The St. Louis bullpen has pitched 30 innings and has a 1.80 ERA, holding opposing hitters to a .177 batting average.
Trevor Rosenthal, the Cardinals’ 100-mph throwing rookie closer, has allowed just three hits and no runs over seven innings in six appearances. Saving three games, Rosenthal has also struck out nine and walked just two this postseason.
No Red Sox players have ever faced Rosenthal.
Red Sox bullpen
The Red Sox managed to win the American League championship despite not having their offense clicking at all times. What propelled them to three one-run wins in the ALCS against the electric Tigers was their shutdown bullpen. Since the playoffs started, the tandem of Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa has formed a strong bridge to closer Koji Uehara. The Red Sox bullpen has pitched 32 innings and combined for a 0.84 ERA with 28 strikeouts, holding opposing hitters to a .209 batting average.
The unlikely hero heading into 2013, Uehara has become the most effective pitcher on the Red Sox. Since taking over as closer in June, he has been nearly unhittable, going three months without allowing a run and at one point retiring a team record 37 consecutive batters. Uehara has allowed just one run in the playoffs, a home run to Jose Lobaton in Game 3 of the ALDS. He has thrown 9 innings, recorded five saves, and was a factor in all four of the Red Sox’ ALCS wins against the Tigers, with a win and three saves, on his way being named ALCS MVP.
Carlos Beltran is the only Cardinals hitter who has faced Uehara, recording one hit in three at-bats.
In a series of teams as tightly matched as the Red Sox and Cardinals, the games can come down to who makes a mistake in the wrong time. That was certainly present in Game 6 of the ALCS, when the normally sure-handed Jose Iglesias bobbled a possible double-play ball that could have ended the seventh inning with the Tigers leading 2-1. Instead, it loaded the bases for Shane Victorino, who blasted a grand slam into the Green Monster seats to turn the tide in the game and help send the Red Sox to the World Series.
In the playoffs, the Cardinals have 424 total defensive chances and committed just three errors: one by Matt Carpenter, one by Pete Kozma, and one by David Freese. As a team, the Cardinals hold a .993 fielding percentage for the playoffs.
The Red Sox have been similarly steady in the field, committing just three errors themselves in 365 total chances, with only two coming from everyday players. Shane Victorino and Stephen Drew each have one, while pitcher Brandon Workman has the third. The Red Sox’ postseason fielding percentage is just a tick lower than that of the Cardinals, standing at .992 heading into the World Series. The Red Sox lead all postseason teams in double plays with 16. The Cardinals have turned 15.
Both John Farrell and Mike Matheny were working for their respected teams the last time each won the World Series – but not as manager. Farrell was the pitching coach under Terry Francona in 2007 and Matheny was a Special Assistant in Player Development while Tony La Russa was managing the Cardinals.
After the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011, La Russa decided to retire after 33 years managing the White Sox, A’s, and Cardinals. In November, Matheny was named the new manager of the Cardinals, and at 41 became the youngest active manager in the majors. In his first season, Matheny led the Cardinals to a wild-card berth, a win against the Braves in the wild-card game; a series victory over the Nationals in the NLDS; and held a 3-1 series lead over the Giants in the NLCS before falling just short of winning the pennant.
Matheny’s second season was different, and after battling the Pirates and Reds throughout the course of the season, the Cardinals captured the NL Central title, going on to beat the Pirates in the NLDS and the Dodgers to win their fourth pennant in nine years.
Farrell served as pitching coach of the Red Sox from 2007 to 2010, when he was hired to manage the Toronto Blue Jays, a position he held for two seasons. Coming to the Red Sox in October 2012 after the firing of Bobby Valentine, Farrell instantly changed the atmosphere in the Boston clubhouse, leading the team in an entirely different direction. The Red Sox went from 69 wins in 2012 to 97 wins in just one year, a single-season turnaround frequently compared to the Sox’ 1967 “Impossible Dream.’’
Farrell led the Red Sox to their first playoff appearance since 2009 and their first AL East title since 2007, taking down the Rays and the Tigers on the way to winning the American League championship.
Farrell and Matheny are both looking for their first World Series titles as a manager.
Red Sox bench vs. Cardinals bench
The Red Sox during the 2013 season prided themselves on the ability to shift around their lineup to get the best possible matchups, at the plate or in the field. The Red Sox have used Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, and Mike Carp prominently throughout the year, with Gomes mostly starting so far in the postseason. Xander Bogaerts, who is now starting at third base, has shown incredible poise at the plate in these playoffs, as the 21-year-old has worked pitch counts and gotten timely hits and walks to score key Red Sox runs on their way to the postseason. Former starter Will Middlebrooks is now coming off the bench and could provide pop in later innings, especially in St. Louis where there is no DH. Quintin Berry has also played a pivotal role since joining the Red Sox, primarily used as a pinch-runner when they need to steal a base late in games, and has not been caught stealing in 27 attempts in the big league career.
When first baseman Allen Craig went down with a foot injury in September, Matt Adams stepped up to become the starting first baseman for the Cardinals, playing the rest of the year and starting in the NLDS and NLCS, hitting .268 with a home run and four RBIs in the playoffs so far. Craig, who hit .315 with 97 RBIs in the regular season, has said he is ready to play in the World Series, so expect for them both to be in the lineup when the games are played in Boston, with Craig most likely serving as DH. Whether he or Adams takes a seat when the series shift to St. Louis, either will be a big bat off the bench for Mike Matheny for pinch-hitting late in games. David Descalso and Shane Robinson (pictured right) have been streaky hitters off the bench: Descalso has seen time in 10 of the Cardinals 11 postseason games, while Robinson hit a home run in Game 4 of the NLCS and drew the start in Game 6. St. Louis has also used Adron Chambers and Kolten Wong off the bench in the postseason, but with Adams starting at first base, the other four Cardinals have just one hit in 14 pinch-hit attempts in the playoffs.
Red Sox at home vs. Cardinals on the road
The Red Sox went 53-28 at Fenway Park this season, good for a winning percentage of .654. Their 53 home wins were the highest in the American League, third overall in the majors. Playing at home was key for the Red Sox in the postseason, as they won four out of the five games they played in Boston. The Red Sox are 4-0 in their last four World Series games at home, sweeping the Cardinals and the Rockies on their way to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.
The Cardinals, while not as good as they are at home, have won more than lost on the road this year, posting a record of 43-38 and a winning percentage of .531. They had the third-best road record in the NL in 2013. The Cardinals are 2-5 on the road in their last three World Series trips in 2004, 2006, and 2011.
Red Sox on the road vs. Cardinals at home
On the road this season, the Red Sox ran into more trouble than at home, posting a record of 44-27 that was still good for second in the American League behind the Texas Rangers. In the 2013 playoffs, the Red Sox have won on the road, going 1-1 in the ALDS against Tampa Bay and impressively taking two out of three games in Detroit in the ALCS. The Red Sox are 4-0 on the road in their past two World Series trips to St. Louis in 2004 and Colorado in 2007.
The Cardinals were just a bit better than the Red Sox at home in 2013, winning 54 games and losing just 27, second in the majors only to the Atlanta Braves. So far in the playoffs, the Cardinals have been almost unbeatable at home, losing just once – Game 2 of the NLDS against the Pirates – with an overall record of 5-1. After falling in two home games to lose the 2004 World Series to the Red Sox, the Cardinals have gone 6-1 in seven home games in the Fall Classic in 2006 and 2011.