So often, the
Major League Baseball postseason shakes out differently than what the
majority of fans anticipate. After all, the top seeds in each league
haven’t met in the World Series since 1999, a rather incredible feat
if you think about it. But 2013 had a different feel all along, and
that streak is officially over. The 97-65 Boston Red Sox and St.
Louis Cardinals seemed on a collision course from the onset of the
playoffs, and now here they are in the 109th edition of
the Fall Classic. It may be a case of destiny vs. density: the Red
Sox have looked like the team supposed to win it all along, but the
young, naïve Cards know no better, so here they are trying to bring
the franchise its third title in eight seasons. So how will this
series shake out? A closer look:
led the majors in runs scored, but looked mortal against the Tigers
deep pitching in the ALCS. Nevertheless, they found ways to score
when it counted, and the depth of their lineup outstretches the depth
of the Cardinals’. The toughest part of Boston’s lineup is the top
third; the Sox essentially feature three leadoff hitters 1-2-3, with
Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia giving Boston a
lethal dynamic that can kill you in plenty of different ways.
power is there too if needed. Whether it’s Big Papi or Mike Napoli in
the middle or one of the guys at the top muscling up, Boston can go
long. The Cardinals excelled in the clutch all year, setting a Major
League record for hitting with runners in scoring position, but the
big question will be how Allen Craig returns in his first action
since early September. If St. Louis needs a roundtripper, can they
dial one up at a moment’s notice? Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday
would seem to be the most likely candidates, as they hit 24 and 22,
respectively, in the regular season, but Holliday is more of a line
drive hitter and Beltran may not get enough right-handed at bats to
utilize the Green Monster properly. Edge: Red Sox.
Cards appear to be more potent at the top of their rotation with Adam
Wainwright and rookie phenom Michael Wacha, but the depth of Boston’s
rotation as a whole could be what makes the difference in this
series. After all, having the pitcher that likely would have been the
AL Cy Young winner had it not been for a midseason injury pitching
Game 3 is a major plus. Jon Lester is just as capable as Wainwright,
and the Cards’ struggles against left-handed pitchers this season is
cause for concern. John Lackey has always been a big-game pitcher,
and the series could swing on Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy outdueling
young Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn in the middle part of this series.
for the bullpens, both relief corps are absolutely stacked. For
Boston, it’s all about the back end. Craig Breslow and Junichi Tazawa
are unflappable bridges to the simply-unhittable Koji Uehara,
although there is mild concern about the bullpen if it is needed in
the earlier part of the game. For the Cardinals, it is a “clown
car” of young fireballers, from southpaw Kevin Siegrist to Seth
Maness to Carlos Martinez to closer Trevor Rosenthal, who can touch
triple-digits with his fastball at times. Edge: Red Sox.
games at Busch Stadium will give St. Louis a decided advantage
because Allen Craig is not expected to play first base, but Boston is
no slouch when it comes to the extra guys. Mike Carp and Daniel Nava
are weapons late in the game, and David Ross is not your average
backup catcher. Shane Robinson stepped up big for the Cards in the
NLCS, and Adron Chambers could provide a spark on the basepaths for
the Redbirds. Edge: Even.
John Farrell and Mike Matheny are as good as it gets in the business.
But there is just something about Farrell; every move he makes seems
to be the right one, and his work with the pitching staff is
unparalleled. He knows matchups inside and out, and is not afraid to
use Uehara for more than an inning to get a save. Both men work their
bullpens magnificently, both Farrell just seems to have that knack
for always making the right call at the right time. Edge:
isn’t much else to say concerning the Red Sox other than that it
feels like “their year.” From “Boston Strong” to one
improbable comeback after another, it is almost literally a new hero
every night for the Sox. The Cards have been here before as recently
as two years ago, but there offense can go into slumbers at times and
has more holes in it than Boston’s, which is stacked top to bottom.
In the late innings of close games, never bet against Boston. Fenway
Park is a magical place for the Sox, and while Busch Stadium has been
quite kind to the Cards of late, the Red Sox are just as equipped at
handling the pressures of winning on the road. Edge: Red
is finally the World Series that Boston celebrates in front of its
fans. The previous two Series wins have been wipeouts that have been
closed out in St. Louis and Denver, but this series figures to be a
little more challenging. Nevertheless, this Red Sox team is all about
“finding a way,” and in the end, that’s exactly what they’ll do.
Red Sox in 6.
Series MVP: Jacoby
Series goat: John
Big Sox comeback:
Koji hits allowed
in series: 2.
Series HR leader:
David Freese, 2.
Red Sox stolen
Final out made by: