ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (104-69)
at BOSTON RED SOX (104-68)
World Series - Game 1
First pitch: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Line: Boston -115, St. Louis +105, Total: 7
The Cardinals begin their quest for their second World Series title in three years on Wednesday night against a Red Sox team looking for a repeat of 2004 when they swept the Redbirds in the Fall Classic.
Adam Wainwright (21-10, 2.82 ERA) will take the mound for underdog St. Louis in this one with a 2-1 record and 1.57 ERA this postseason, adding to his career-long playoff success (4-1, 2.10 ERA). Opposing him will be Boston southpaw Jon Lester (17-9, 3.64 ERA) who has been way better at home this year, where he is 8-2 (team is 12-30 with a 2.93 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. The Cardinals have generally struggled against lefties this season, going 22-25 (.468). Overall, St. Louis is 45-41 (.523) away from Busch Stadium in 2013, while the Boston is a dominant 57-29 (.663) at Fenway Park. The Cardinals have struggled at the plate this postseason with a .210 BA and 3.8 runs per game, but their pitching has been outstanding, limiting opponents to a .207 BA and 2.5 runs per game. The Red Sox lineup has been up-and-down during the playoffs, batting .236 with 4.5 runs per game, but their pitching has also been strong with a 3.05 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.
Wainwright (1.05 WHIP) has led the Cardinals to victory in 25 of his 37 starts (.676) this year, including a 7-1 mark in his past eight starts where he has not allowed more than three runs in any outing, tallying a 1.71 ERA and 0.88 WHIP with 52 K's and just seven walks in 58 IP during this span. He has been slightly worse on the road this season with a 3.31 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, but he still amassed a 10-4 record (team 12-6) away from Busch Stadium. And he lives for October, now with a 2.10 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 16 career postseason outings, seven of which were starts. He has 62 strikeouts and only seven walks in those 55.2 postseason innings. That mirrors his dominance this year where he has 239 strikeouts and a pithy 36 walks in 264.2 innings. He has never pitched against the Red Sox in his career, though has some experience pitching well against some of their current hitters, holding them to a combined .162 BA in 68 career at-bats. SS Stephen Drew is 2-for-19 with five strikeouts, C David Ross is 2-for-11 with 4 K's, OF Jonny Gomes is 2-for-10 with 4 K's while ALCS Game 6 grand slam hero OF Shane Victorino is just 5-for-22 (.227 BA) against Wainwright in his career. Despite the struggles, Ross, Gomes and Victorino have a homer and 3 RBI off the right-hander. Wainwright doesn’t usually need much bullpen help with 7.2 innings per start this year, but the Cardinals bullpen is usually pretty solid with a 3.35 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. On the road they’re even better with a 3.11 ERA, but have a slightly worse 1.23 WHIP. But during the postseason, the St. Louis bullpen has been lights-out with a 1.80 ERA and 0.83 WHIP over 30 innings, which includes a 1.42 ERA and 0.74 WHIP in the NLCS win over the Dodgers.
Lester (1.28 WHIP in 2013) has also been great in the postseason so far with a 2-1 record and 2.33 ERA this October. That echoes his historical postseason dominance, as he has a 2.49 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 11 career postseason appearances, nine of which were starts. He has 191 strikeouts in 232.2 innings this year, though he sometimes struggles with his control with 74 walks. He has one career start against the Cardinals, earning the win against them while giving up two earned runs on nine hits in 7.1 innings in 2008. Only three current Cardinals have ever faced Lester, as OF Matt Holliday is 2-for-6 with 1 RBI and 1 K, OF Carlos Beltran is 1-for-1 with two walks and C Yadier Molina is 0-for-3. The important thing to watch out with the St. Louis hitters will be monitoring the health of 1B/OF Allen Craig, whose status for the series is questionable with a foot injury. Craig batted .315 with 13 HR and 97 RBI during the regular season, but has not played since Sept. 4 because of his injury. Despite some injuries of its own, Boston’s bullpen has been extremely reliable this year with a 33-23 record, 3.53 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. At Fenway Park, the unit is 18-9 with a 3.45 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. During the 2013 postseason, Red Sox relievers have been outstanding with a collective 3-1 record, 0.84 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and five saves, all by Koji Uehara.